Lightroom: Ability to NOT import image keywords

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  • Updated 9 months ago
  • (Edited)
It would be very helpful to have the ability to NOT import keywords when importing images. For example, I was reworking my large LR catalogue with older images that I had keyworded before I really know how to do keywords and all the mistakes (all caps, no heirachy, etc) came into my LR keyword list and made my keyword list unusable. As mentioned in a previous post managing keywords in LR is an exercise in frustration and dealing with all these mistakes in a 100,000+ image Library is untenable.
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PSDiva

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  • frustrated

Posted 7 years ago

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Sean Phillips

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Interesting idea. I think they really just need to provide an adequate Keyword editor and this problem would go away...
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PSDiva

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I agree with you Sean. Better keyword management is being discussed on a separate post. Once you get past a few hundred keywords LR is an act in frustration. I need to spend more time with images and less time with keywords!
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Rob Sylvan, Champion

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I would love an "ignore existing keywords in metadata during import" option.
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Sean Phillips

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This would be especially ususeful when reimporting images that have been edited externally. In that case when the edited image goes out all the hierarchical keywords get expanded and they get added as new individual keywords rather than the image just containing the top level keywords. This is maybe a slightly different problem that deserves its own thread, but the solution might be the same.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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There's a simple idiom for removing metadata such as keywords from just-imported photos. Select all of the photos, go to the Keywording pane, and clear all of the text in the Keyword Tags box.

This idiom works for any set of selected photos. It also applies to any metadata that appears in the Metadata pane, e.g. Caption.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I forgot to add: Deleting the keywords from just-imported photos doesn't stop them from getting added to your heirarchy. For that, you'd have to import the photos into a temporary catalog, delete the keywords, Save Metadata To Files, then import the photos into the real catalog. (You can also use tools like Exiftool to batch-remove keywords before you import the photos.)

I like the suggestion about having an option to prevent importation, but I just want to make sure readers know they have simple options with the current LR.
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john beardsworth

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I don't like the idea of having an import option to remove existing keywords and think that Lightroom should continue to respect metadata that is already in the files. The Import dialog should be about getting files into Library and under its control as quickly as possible - not about fixing legacy metadata. Right now the user can select Previous Import and simply remove those unwanted keywords (and do so on a more granular basis than with all-or-nothing import option).
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Sean Phillips

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Removing the Keywords form imported images does not address the OP's issue. IMHO an option to NOT import keywords also does not address the issue.

The problem is that when Lightroom imports Keywords from Metadata it does nothing to check to see if those Keywords already exist somewhere in the Keyword library and it creates a new one.

For example, If I have an existing parent keyword called France that is a child of Europe, and then import an image that contains the keyword France in its metadata, Lightroom will create a new parent keyword:

Europe
>> France
France

If you then import another image that contains FRANCE, Lightroom will create another one:

Europe
>> France
France
FRANCE

This becomes a major issue for anyone using hierarchical keywords AND exporting images to Photoshop (or any other external editor) because Lightroom will expand the entire keyword hierarchy prior to exporting, and then it will import all of those keywords as new parent keywords when reimporting the edited image.

The entire Keyword library then becomes completely polluted, making hierarchical keywords an ridiculously challenging thing to maintain.

So there are a number of potential problems here, and since Lightroom really doesn't have a decent Keyword editor there is no good way to fix it.
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john beardsworth

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I agree about the problem of managing keyword lists, and I suspect you know that I've stayed with a flat list. I agree with your description of pollution as one of the tipping points that makes managing a hierarchical list impossible. List management, what you call an editor, is the real need here - not skewing the import process so it becomes a method of sorting out legacy metadata.
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PSDiva

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The entire Keyword library then becomes completely polluted, making hierarchical keywords an ridiculously challenging thing to maintain. /

Exactly! Polluted is the way to describe it...that and frustrating!
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Ian Lyons, Champion

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If Lr is not handling existing keywords correctly when importing images then engineering time would be better spent fixing that issue than adding a feature to remove keywords.
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David A Rogers

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I agree with both John B and Ians points. If we are to use this platform as a means to suggest where attention needs to be paid then a more robust KW editor is in order rather than a modification of an existing feature.
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Gene McCullagh

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I'll add my voice to David's. The root problem is LR's keyword management capabilities. We are in desperate need of a more elegant way to manage and maintain keywords. Simple things like scrubbing for dupes, hierarchy management, more powerful keywording groups, and so on.

Respecting the existing metadata is, I think, fundamental to the "non-destructive" nature of LR.
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Louis Sherwin

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I concur with Ian. Now that the image quality issues have been addressed with 3.x it is time to get serious with adding effective DAM tools. Providing a robust and flexible keyword tools is high on my priority list. I have several suggestions that I will be posting soon.
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Rob Cole

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I don't think this option should be considered mutually exclusive with other keyword handling improvements. Often when I import foreign photos into my catalog, I just want to deep-6 all the keywords presently assigned, and then assign my own, or not, as I see fit. If there was a substantial opportunity cost involved then obviously that would be a consideration, but this feature would take very little time to implement - really.
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Rob Cole

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It has taken me a while, on several occasions, to get rid of keywords imported from other peoples photos that did not go along with my keywording scheme - I think this is a great idea, together with an option to be prompted before new keywords are created. As has been pointed out, if one is diligent, one can delete them after import (hint: remember to purge unused keywords too). And in fact, after having made the mistake a few times already, this is exactly what I do (I usually remember now). Still, the more things that help, the better...
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Rob Sylvan, Champion

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If I import photos that have embedded legacy metadata, such as Title, Caption, Copyright and Keywords, and apply a metadata template during import that includes new Title, Caption, Copyright, and Keywords, then I would expect all of the data in the metadata template to *replace* the existing metadata when I view the imported photo in Lightroom.

This is almost what happens.

I would not want to see my new title, caption or copyright appended to the embedded data in those fields, and thankfully Lightroom replaces embedded data with the data in the template as it should. Yet with keywords, the existing words are always appended to the new. I would just like a similar level of control over keywords entering the catalog that I currently have over other metadata fields during import.

Let me put it another way, if you create a metadata template that is completely empty of new data, but check the little box next to every field in the template, and then apply that metadata template to a new import, the only legacy data that is still imported into the catalog are legacy keywords.

A check box in the keyword section of the metadata template that explicitly prevented Lightroom from importing legacy keywords would be one possible solution I would support, but if it just behaved the same as all the other fields then that would work for me too.

On a keyword-related note, there is an ongoing discussion regarding better keyword management, which I fully support, if anyone has missed it:

http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...
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Rob Cole

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Well put.
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Ian Lyons, Champion

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Yes, the inconsistency in behaviour is extremely irritating and has been drawn to the attention of Lr engineering folk more often than I care to count.

Lr should offer users the option to "append" or "replace" metadata, much as Bridge has done since version 1, but that's the subject of a separate and very long standing request.
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Sean McCormack, Champion

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I have to agree with Ian, there should be an append or replace metadata option
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Rob Cole

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@v2.2, OttoImporter has option to remove pre-existing keywords upon import.
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Stephen Barnes

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Totally agree with this request. I often convert Raw to JPG, and an import will often create new keywords where I have specified synonyms. It's a real pain to go back, identify all the new keywords, and delete them. "Ignore new keywords" option during import would be a great addition (as opposed to "Ignore Keywords")
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Rob Cole

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Thanks for the idea. @v3.2 Ottomanic Importer supports "Ignore new keywords" feature :-).
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Poppy

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Hi there, I was going to address exactly the same problem ( reimporting images with keywords with synonyms rendering new keywords outside of the hirachy) when I found this blog. I am using LR 2015 CC, so it seems nothing has changed in the last 5 years? I also would appreciate a kind of checkbox. where I could decide if I like to import new keywords.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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In LR CC 2015, you can stop LR from importing a photo's keywords by defining an import metadata preset that clears the keywords from imported photos:




This ensures that any keywords in the photo's metadata will not be assigned to the photo in the LR catalog when it is imported. 

Unfortunately, those keywords will still be added to the Keyword list. (There is a separate bug report for that behavior, but I can't find it, unfortunately.) An easy but annoying workaround is to do Metadata > Purge Unused Keywords, which deletes all keywords that haven't been assigned to photos.
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Lowell Montgomery

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For me, running "Purge unused keywords" would be somewhat disastrous, since I've spent a lot of time building up a hierarchical keyword list, much of which is there to apply to photographs I haven't taken yet (or at least haven't applied to my photos... yet). A lot of others have paid for large hierarchical keyword lists (and so are in a similar boat in that they definitely don't want to delete keywords they haven't tagged a photo with yet). I could see removing sections of such a keyword tree that I was sure I'd never use.

Anyway, the solution that does work for me, is to import new keywords into a parent term that I can (periodically) delete and re-create. Obviously there is a lot more work to maintaining my images' keyword metadata than that, but at least it helps avoid the issue of my keyword hierarchy base level getting flooded with duplicate terms that I don't want to keep and allows me to do just one "delete" action once I've migrated any wanted terms into the hierarchy or selected equivalent keywords.


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Poppy

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Also for me this seems to be a very good idea - I will try ist at soon as possible!
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Abigail Wintker

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John, what is this Top Secret fix that prevents keywords from being added to the Keyword list? I'm new to Lr, studying information sciences, and baffled at this ludicrous wonk.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"What is this Top Secret fix that prevents keywords from being added to the Keyword list?"

When you import photos containing keywords in their metadata, there is no way to prevent them from being added to the catalog's keyword list.  You can stop them from being assigned to the imported photos, and you can have them placed under a distinguished root keyword to make them easier to find (see above for details on each method), but you can't stop them from being added to the keyword list.
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Abigail Wintker

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John, thanks so much for returning to an old(!) issue and answering thoughtfully yet again. This is such a frustration for users; it's tragic that Adobe has neglected this for so long.
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Poppy

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Thank you for your answer, but unfortunately that will not resolve my special problem. I have some keywords with synonyms (for which I thought it would make sense to have them exported as well) and those are added to my keyword list when I export to JPEG and reimport to the catalogue. I think I have unchecked all "export synonyms" boxes by now, but still there happen surprises. 
Anyway it seems that this is not a mayor issue.