Photos Not in Any Collection


Today’s Question: After merging several catalogs within Lightroom Classic, I have a number of collections that were contributed from each individual catalog. Is there a way to create a collection of images that are NOT in any collection?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can create a smart collection containing photos that are not included in any other collection in Lightroom Classic using a workaround with the “doesn’t contain” option for the collection name filter.

More Detail: While Lightroom Classic includes a wide variety of options for filtering photos based on metadata and other details, there isn’t a simple option for specifying that you want to filter images based on those not included in any collection. However, you can create a smart collection that will provide this utility.

To get started, go to the left panel in the Library module and to the right of the Collections heading click the plus (+) icon. From the popup menu that appears choose “Create Smart Collection” to bring up the Create Smart Collection dialog.

Enter a meaningful name into the Name field, such as “NOT in Any Collection”. You can also add this new smart collection to a collection set if you’d like, using the controls in the Location section.

In the criteria area you only need a single rule, so if there are additional rules shown in the large box click the minus (-) button to remove all but one. Then set the first popup for the single rule to “Collection”. Set the second popup to “doesn’t contain”, which means you are creating a smart collection based on photos that are only in collections that don’t contain specific characters.

In this case, however, you want to exclude photos that are included in any collection. That means you simply need to specify characters in the text box to the right of the popups that represent all letters and numbers that might possibly be included in any collection name.

For example, let’s assume you always include the four-digit year in the name of every collection, and that your photography only goes back as far as the year 2000. That would mean including “2” in the text box would exclude photos from all collections, because all collections would have a “2” in the name.

Of course, more than likely you don’t have a naming system for collections that will make it so easy to exclude collections based on a single number. So, to be safe you can exclude collections based on all letters and numbers, with each letter and number separated by a space. Entering the following (or copying and pasting) in the text box will ensure that photos from all collections are excluded:

“a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9”

This is obviously a bit of a workaround, and it would be much easier if Adobe added a filter option for “not in any collection” for a smart collection or on the Library Filter bar. But until such a feature is added, the above approach will work.