Are you always searching for your favorite photos of your dog? Or perhaps the photos you haven’t edited yet? Or more complex combinations, like all of the best photos taken with a specific camera/lens combination in a single location?
You may have used filters to help find your photos, or collections to group related photos, but have you discovered the power of Smart Collections yet?
Smart Collections are like a saved search. You set the criteria, like you would with a filter, and the smart collection automatically updates to display any photos that match these rules. So, how can you use a Smart Collection?
(Note, this applies only to Lightroom Classic or earlier folder-based versions of Lightroom. You might want to vote on this feature request if you’d find a similar feature useful in the cloud-based Lightroom ecosystem).
Setting up a simple Smart Collection
Let’s start by a simple example. Let’s fine out which of this year’s photos haven’t been yet edited.
- Press the + button on the Collections panel and select Create Smart Collection.
- Decide on a name for the Smart Collection. We’ll call this one ‘Photos not yet edited’.
- Enter the criteria using the pop-ups, in this case, Has Adjustments is false (Has Adjustments checks there are no History steps in Lightroom other than Import.)
- Add an additional row by clicking the + button at the end of the row.
- Enter the date criteria, in this case, Capture Date is after 2020-12-31.
- Press Create/Save to finish your Smart Collection.
- The Grid view automatically updates to display all of the photos fitting the criteria, even when you import new photos.
More complex Smart Collections
By clicking on the + at the end of the line, you can add extra rules. You can also include conditional lines by holding down the Alt (Windows) / Opt (Mac) when you click on the + at the end of the line and clicking on the # button that appears.
In the example below, we have a main rule to find any photos that included ‘Paul’ in the keywords, and then we’ve added a conditional rule so that anything in the collection also has to contain either ‘Charlie’ or ‘William’.
As a result, any photos with keywords containing both Paul and Charlie or both Paul and William are displayed in the smart collection.
Can I use a Smart Collection to sync to the Cloud?
In short, no, you can’t sync smart collections. But the simple workaround is to simply select all photos in the Smart Collection and drag them to a regular Collection that’s set to sync. Do this periodically as you notice the Smart Collection has more photos that have met the criteria. If you make extensive use of smart collections and the mobile/web apps, you may also want to look at this plugin by Jeffrey Friedl, which automates the process.
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!