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How to Edit Metadata and Target Photos in Lightroom

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Often you'll want to edit the metadata for a bunch of images at once. But sometimes you'd like to be able to skim along through a selection and tweak the metadata for individual photos as you go. Martin Evening shows how to use a Lightroom 1.1 feature to edit metadata for individual images within a selection.
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How to Edit Metadata and Target Photos in Lightroom

Prior to the 1.1 update of Lightroom, if you had a bunch of images selected in the content area and went to the Metadata panel, the metadata information would have displayed <mixed> values whenever the file attributes varied. Only those values that remained constant—such as the copyright information—would be displayed.

In Figure 1, the dialog box on the left shows how the metadata information is displayed in Lightroom 1.0 when more than one photo is selected and the photos all have different metadata information. The dialog box on the right shows how the Metadata panel in Lightroom 1.1 displays the information for the "most selected (target) photo" when Metadata > Show Metadata for Target Photo Only is selected.

Figure 1

Figure 1 When Metadata > Show Metadata for Target Photo Only is selected, the Metadata panel display looks like the version shown on the right. Now it’s possible to read the individual metadata information for the "most selected" or target photo.

In the example in Figure 2, I’ve selected all the photos from a recent model casting. The Metadata panel is displaying the information for the photo that is the "most highlighted" of all the selected images (the target photo). By holding down the Command (Mac) or Control (PC) key and using the arrow keys, I can navigate from one image to the next without losing the active photo selection, reading the metadata information for each image as I go along.

Figure 2

Figure 2 An example of the Show Metadata for Target Photo Only function in use. Note that although all the photos have been selected and their titles are different, we can read the information for the most selected photo.

In Show Metadata for Target Photo Only mode, be aware that you’re able to edit the metadata only on a per-image basis. This is a good thing because it means that you can keep an image selection active and edit the metadata of individual images. But some users will be accustomed to making image selections and then using the Metadata panel to edit settings globally across the selection. So keep in mind that, although this menu item can prove useful, you probably won’t want to have it enabled all the time.

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