In a previous post, we learned how to start keywording from scratch, but many Lightroom users have already added a few keywords, so this week, we’ll do some cleanup. This is mostly aimed at Lightroom Classic, where the keywords are held locally and can be in a hierarchical structure, but some keywording is also possible using the Lightroom (cloud-based) version.
How do you delete a keyword from one or many photos? Simple, just select the photo(s) in Grid view and click on the keyword. It will show as
struck through and will turn red. There’s no way to rename a keyword currently, but you could use the filters to select all the photos with the keyword, add the correct keyword to all of the photos then delete the incorrect keyword.
Here are some other things you can do with the Desktop version of Lightroom (cloud-based) with keywords:
Lightroom Classic: How do I edit an existing keyword?
If you want to edit a keyword, perhaps to correct the spelling, simply right-click on the keyword in the Keyword List panel and select Edit Keyword Tag. When you rename a keyword, it’s automatically updated on all of the tagged photos too.
Lightroom Classic: How do I delete a keyword from a single photo or from all photos?
If you add a keyword to a photo by mistake, you can remove it using either the Keywording or Keyword List panel. With the photo(s) selected, select the keyword in the Keywording panel and press Delete/Backspace to delete the keyword, or remove the checkmark against the keyword in the Keyword List panel.
To delete the keyword from the keyword list as well as any tagged photos, select it and click the – button at the top of the Keyword List panel, or right-click and select Delete.
Lightroom Classic: How do I create or change the keyword hierarchy?
By default, new keywords are added as a flat list, but in Lightroom Classic, you can drag and drop them into a hierarchy of nested keywords. This is particularly useful if you have a large number of keywords on Windows, as too many in a flat list may hit a Windows limitation that prevents some from being displayed.
As you drag a keyword onto another keyword, that new parent keyword is highlighted. When you release the mouse, the keyword moves inside the new parent keyword, just as you would drag folders onto other folders to make them into subfolders.
If you want to do the opposite and change a child keyword into a top-level keyword, drag and drop the keyword between existing top-level level keywords instead. As you drag, a thin blue line appears. Don’t worry about dropping it in the right place in the list, as the Keyword List is automatically set to alpha-numeric sort.
If you’re building your keyword hierarchy for the first time, and want to add a series of child keywords inside the same parent, select Put New Keywords Inside this Keyword from the right-click menu. Any new keywords are then added to that keyword as child keywords, unless you specifically choose otherwise. The keyword is marked with a small dot next to the keyword name to remind you. To go back to adding new keywords at root level, right-click and uncheck the same command.
Lightroom Classic: How do I merge duplicate keywords?
At some stage, you’re sure to end up with duplicate keywords. Perhaps, before you decided on consistent capitalization, you added dog to some photos and dogs to others. Or perhaps you edited photos in another program and the photo came back into your catalog with new flat keywords. Merging them isn’t as easy as it should be, but it is possible:
- In the Keyword List, click the arrow to the right of the “wrong” keyword to show the photos tagged with that keyword.
- Select all of the resulting photos in the Grid view and drag them onto the “right” keyword, or check the checkbox next to the “right” keyword. This assigns the “right” keyword to the photos.
- Finally, go back and delete the “wrong” keyword.
Over the last 4 weeks, we’ve only skimmed the surface of keywording in Lightroom. We’ve discussed the kind of keywords you might add, whether to use flat or hierarchical keywords, and the basics of getting started with adding keywords to your photos. For more detailed information for keywording, see the Keywording sections of our Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ or Adobe Lightroom – Edit Like a Pro books, depending on which Lightroom version you’re using.
For extensive information on Lightroom Classic, see Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ.
If you have the Photography Plan, then as well as Classic you have access to the Lightroom cloud ecosystem including the mobile apps and web interface. For more information on these apps, see Adobe Lightroom – Edit Like a Pro.
Note: purchase of these books includes the first year’s Classic or cloud-based Premium Membership (depending on the book purchased), giving access to download the latest eBook (each time Adobe updates the software), email assistance for the applicable Lightroom version if you hit a problem, and other bonuses.
We also have a special bundle offer for the two books. This includes Premium Membership for the first year as described above for the whole Lightroom family!
Originally posted 10 April 2017, updated for current Lightroom versions, May 2020.