Complex Smart Collections


Today’s Question: Is it possible to create a collection in Lightroom Classic (probably a smart collection) which filters for year, rating (5 stars), flagged. and color labels (green and yellow)?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can create a smart collection in Lightroom Classic based on multiple metadata criteria, such as photos captured during a specific year with a 5-star rating, pick flag, and particular color labels.

More Detail: A smart collection in Lightroom Classic can be thought of as a saved search result. You can specify multiple criteria based on metadata, and only the photos that match the criteria will be included in the smart collection. As the metadata for photos gets updated, the contents of the smart collection will update automatically, so only photos matching the criteria will appear in the smart collection at any time.

You can get started by clicking the plus symbol to the right of the Collections heading on the left panel in the Library module and choosing “Create Smart Collection” from the popup menu. In the Create Smart Collection dialog you can enter a meaningful name for the smart collection in the Name field. You can also add the collection to a collection set if you’d like with the controls in the Location section.

You can then specify the criteria for the smart collection. In this example you might start by choosing Date > Capture Date from the first popup in the criteria area. You can then choose “is in the range” from the second popup so you can specify the date range you want to filter by. This will enable two fields where you can enter the starting and ending dates. For example, if you want to include only photos from 2023 you could enter “2023-01-01” in the first textbox and “2023-12-12” in the second textbox.

You can then add additional rows to the set of criteria, clicking the plus button at the far right to add a new row. To add a star rating to the filter you could then add a row with “Rating” selected from the first popup, “is” from the second popup, and select the five-star rating to the right of that.

If you want to create a smart collection based on multiple values for the same metadata field, you’ll need to take advantage of an additional conditional option. For example, if you want to include images with either a green or yellow color label, the standard criteria options won’t work, because you can only compare the various criteria using the “all” or “any” options.

To add conditional items, you can hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, which will cause the add buttons to change from showing a plus symbol to a pound symbol. While holding Alt/Option click the button with the pound symbol, which will add two more rows below. From the first row specify how you want the values below to be evaluated, such as by choosing “Any of the following are true” in this example. Then set the popup below to “Label Color” for the color label field, set the second popup to “is”, and choose a color (such as green in this case) from the third popup. Click the plus button to the right of this color label row, and create another rule, which in this case would be for a yellow color label.

In this way you can define the overall criteria, as well as a set of conditional criteria, giving you more flexibility in defining the smart collection. Assuming you want to only include images in the smart collection if they meet all criteria you’ve specified, you can choose “all” from the Match popup. Then click the Create button, and the new smart collection will appear in the Collections list of the left panel in the Library module, populated with all images from the catalog that match the criteria you specified.