Skip to main content
Adobe Photoshop Family

19 Messages

 • 

250 Points

Mon, Nov 23, 2020 11:34 PM

Lightroom Classic: Complex / Advanced Search

Lightroom's Library text search function is very rudimentary, far from what is possible with SQL, the database engine underlying Lightroom's catalog.

The default text search is a logical AND ("contains all" or "contains words") which finds photos with all the entered search terms in whatever field is being searched (keywords, captions, or both). You can find terms that begin with a phrase (+begins) or ends with a phrase (ends+) and photos that do not include a term (!exclude). That's it, as far as I can determine.

There is no logical OR capability. For example, there's no way to search captions that contain Morus OR mulberry.

It would also be very handy to limit searches to folders with a particular name. For example, search in all folders that have Garden in the name, or all that have Portrait in the name. In my file system there's one of these folders for each year going back more than 20 years so searching each one independently is tedious and time-consuming in a catalog with over 348,000 images.

Lightroom, at its core, is a database with a develop module. However, the database aspect has been ignored from the beginning.

Responses

ouioui_photo

183 Messages

 • 

1.7K Points

2 months ago

Are you speaking of LR (cloudy version) or LRC (classic version) ? You speak of 20 years of photo and 384000 Images so i assume you speak of LRC.

In LRC you can do any type of search with OR and AND and negative conditions using the Dynamic collections. you can do things like

Condition1 AND (Condition2 OR Condition3) AND (Not Condition 4) 

In fact there is no real limit in the combination you can do 

19 Messages

 • 

250 Points

Yes, LR Classic on my desktop computer. Can you point me to documentation on the search capabilities you mention? Does this work only within Collections? If so that's not terribly useful since most of my photos are not in any collections.

Adobe Administrator

 • 

1K Messages

 • 

17.4K Points

19 Messages

 • 

250 Points

Rick, I've been to that page, which explains the limited text search functionality. There's nothing about multiple levels of text search as ouioui_photo alluded to.

Adobe Administrator

 • 

1K Messages

 • 

17.4K Points

Ahh... I see. "Dynamic" threw me off. ouioui_photo is talking about Smart Collections which can be a very powerful tool for organizing images. 

In her book, "Lightroom Classic, The Missing FAQ" Victoria Bampton has a chapter devoted to this. It is available at LightroomQueen.com

19 Messages

 • 

250 Points

Rick, I'm familiar with the concept of smart collections, although I don't use them. In my workflow I tend to search All Photographs, looking for words I've added to captions. A lot of my photos are of plants and I search those frequently. Unfortunately, professional taxonomists change some of the names from time to time and I haven't consistently updated my captions to only have the latest names. So, I'd like to be able to search for things under multiple names and have them all show up together. I can do that in the other database I use (FileMaker Pro). There are also times when I'd like to limit the search to certain named folders (of which there could be one for each of a dozen or more years). Almost all of my searches are ad hoc, meaning I won't search on the same terms again for months or years, depending on what my stock clients are seeking at any time.

183 Messages

 • 

1.7K Points

I have a sort of junk dynamic collection I use and I just change the criteria's to find what I'm looking for. Regrading some documentation on it I have made some video's but they are in French ;) keep in mind that the ALT key will allow you to make complex condition.

183 Messages

 • 

1.7K Points

and it french it is "Dynamic" collection and not "smart" collections ;)

 

Champion

 • 

5.5K Messages

 • 

97.5K Points

I think "dynamic collection" is a better name than "smart collection"! I hate the term "smart" -- it so un-descriptive of what the collections actually do.

Champion

 • 

5.5K Messages

 • 

97.5K Points

2 months ago

To build on the other replies, LR does have advanced search capabilities. They're not great, and they're often klutzy, but you can usually get your job done.  The search features are reasonably well-documented in the online User Guide, which is no longer available in PDF and is moderately painful to search:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/user-guide.html

 

As already mentioned, smart collections provide the most search capabilities. They do take a little extra time to build, but many of us have pre-built ones lying around that we quickly edit for the current task.

 

"There is no logical OR capability. For example, there's no way to search captions that contain Morus OR mulberry."

 

The text operator "contains x y z" does a logical OR -- a field matches if it contains the strings x, y, or z, regardless of word boundaries. "contains" is logical OR of string matching; "contains all" is logical AND of string matching; and "contains words" is logical AND of word matching; wierdly, there is no logical OR of word matching.

 

Keyword columns in the Library Filter bar's Metadata browser let you match keywords exactly with logical OR and AND.  Within a single column, if you select multiple keywords, that column matches if the photo contains any of the selected keywords (OR). If there are multiple Keyword columns, a photo matches if it matches all of the columns (AND).

 

And of course smart collections provide logical OR via "Match any of the following rules".

 

"It would also be very handy to limit searches to folders with a particular name. For example, search in all folders that have Garden in the name, or all that have Portrait in the name. In my file system there's one of these folders for each year going back more than 20 years..."

 

Two ways of doing this:

 

1. Use a smart collection:

 

Then either add more criteria to that smart collection, or click on the smart collection and use the Library Filter bar search to further refine the results.

 

2. In the Folders panel, type "garden" in the Filter Folders search box, which shows you just those folders having "garden" in their name.

 

Select all those folders. Then use Library Filter bar search to further refine the results.

(edited)

Adobe Administrator

 • 

1K Messages

 • 

17.4K Points

Great reply, John! FWIW, I was able to find a pdf of the Lightroom Classic user guide that was updated on 5/10/2018. 

https://helpx.adobe.com/pdf/lightroom_reference.pdf

Champion

 • 

5.5K Messages

 • 

97.5K Points

Thanks, I had downloaded that version. When I want to point someone to online help, I often search/browse that PDF to find the relevant section, then search online for that section title. (If I just search online, I have a 30% chance of finding what I'm looking for.)  

Unfortunately, there have been lots of new features added in the last 2 years that aren't documented in the 2018 PDF.

Adobe Administrator

 • 

1K Messages

 • 

17.4K Points

yeah... it's a bit outdated but the core stuff is worthwhile. Thanks for prompting me to search for it.