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Find Photos Fast With Advanced Searches in Lightroom

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Drowning in photos? Martin Evening shows how to use Lightroom's advanced search options to find the right pictures when you need them.
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Find Photos Fast With Advanced Searches in Lightroom

Let’s see a complex Lightroom photo search in progress. For this example, I first selected Show Entire Library and then went to the Find panel and typed in the letters Mal to initiate a library search for files with any text containing those three letters. As I started typing in the first few letters, the search started narrowing the selection of images in the content area to show images whose folder name, collection name, keywords, captions, and so on contained the specified letter sequence.

In this instance, Lightroom short-listed the folders named Mallorca 2006 and Washington DC (see Figure 1). Why Washington DC? Because the Washington DC folder contained images with the keyword The Mall.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Here are the results of an All Photographs search for images with two-star ratings or higher using the letters Mal. This search result includes images shot in Mallorca and The Mall in Washington, D.C.

After an image selection is returned, click the checkbox next to the search preset (in this case, Any Text) to toggle between the refined image selection and the original, unfiltered selection.

Used in conjunction with previously added metadata, the Find panel is incredibly useful to help narrow image choices and locate specific pictures. The Find panel can filter the contents of the library by searching for any text that matches, or specific criteria such as matching by keywords only. Figure 2 shows how I was able to conduct a more targeted search by selecting the Washington DC folder first and then entering the search criteria Mal in the Find panel. Alternatively, I could have made a Mal search of the entire library first, and then clicked the Washington DC folder or Keyword Tags item to narrow a selection in this way.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Here are the results of a library search that focuses on the Washington DC folder for images with one-star rating or higher, in which any metadata included the letters Mal.

You can conduct an inverse search by typing an exclamation point (!) before the search term. For example, if I wanted to search for all images that were not shot on location, I would type !Places in the Library Filters search field. You can search for anything that begins with a specific search term by typing a plus (+) at the beginning. So if I typed +Mal in the Search field, Lightroom would return the folders named Mallorca 2006 and Malta 2005 but not the Washington DC folder images, because the keyword The Mall wouldn’t be included in this instance.

You can also search for images by file extension. For example, type .TIF to search for TIFF images only. A search for two words separated by a space will return anything that matches those separate terms. Therefore, a search for Mal Bygdøy would return anything that included those two terms. In this case, such a search would return files that shared the following folders and keywords: Mallorca 2006, The Mall, and Bygdøy peninsula.

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