Keywords as Color Labels


Today’s Question: In your video about migrating from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom you mentioned that color labels become keywords since color labels aren’t supported in Lightroom. Is there a way to use those color label keywords in the same way you have recommended in the past such as to mark photos that still need to be reviewed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The keywords assigned to images that are imported with existing color labels can be helpful, but they don’t provide the flexibility of being able to use color labels in a more typical way in your workflow.

More Detail: As noted in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, the cloud-focused version of Lightroom (as opposed to Lightroom Classic) does not support the color label feature. You’re able to assign star ratings as well as pick and reject flags in Lightroom, but not color labels.

As regular readers may know, I assign a red color label to all photos upon import into Lightroom Classic as a way of marking those photos as still needing to be reviewed to identify favorites versus outtakes. In the non-Classic version of Lightroom this isn’t supported because color labels aren’t directly supported.

If you migrate from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom using the built-in utility, color label assignments are converted to keywords. For example, a red color label will be converted to a keyword of “label_red”. However, this same process does not apply to photos that are simply browsed via the Local tab in Lightroom, nor for photos you add to cloud-based storage.

As a result, the feature for converting color label assignments to keywords is of very minimal usefulness. You could certainly adopt that concept to make use of keywords in the place of color labels, similar to my concept of “fake” keywords that I’ve addressed from time to time. For example, you could add a keyword of “label_red” to all photos you want to make sure to review, and then you can filter based on that keyword to locate photos for review.

However, in my view using keywords to take the place of color labels is not anywhere near as helpful as the proper color label feature that is supported by many other applications, including Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom Classic. I therefore hope that Adobe will add full support for color labels to the cloud-focused version of Lightroom in the near future.