Lightroom: Exact text match in smart collections and filters, including matching spaces

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Is there really no way to search metadata for a term that has spaces in it? e.g. "brown hair".
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Rob Cole

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Posted 7 years ago

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jdv, Champion

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If the various free-form search terms support special chars like - + and quotes, someone from Adobe should speak up.
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Rob Cole

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Based on Adobe's response in the following link, this is being considered a bug: http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...
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Rob Cole

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Unless I'm mistaken, this has to be considered a serious flaw in metadata handling - we need to be able to find things even when they have spaces in them!

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Lightroom: spaces in metadata.
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Alan Harper

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Just my 2¢, but I really don't miss this feature.

Being able to click on a multiword keyword (in Keyword List or Metadata panel) to get an exact match, + being able to set up Smart Collection with "Keywords contains Words", is fine for me.

All I want keywords to do are to show me all the photos that meet the criteria I need. If there are a few others (for instance images keyed "hair brown" as well as "brown hair"), it doesn't bother me.
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Rob Cole

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Hopefully you don't mind if Adobe takes a minute to fix this for the rest of us.

Note: the problem exists not only for keywords, but all other textual metadata, including custom.

*** BEWARE: "Contains Words" still has an insidious bug - it will not always return the photos it should. I think it should be removed from Lightroom completely until it's fixed, which should be immediately, if not sooner - my .02.

Big Mallard Ducks,
Rob
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jdv, Champion

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I can't even tell the difference between "Contains Words" and "Contains All"
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Rob Cole

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I discovered the 'Contains Words' bug when attempting once and for all to understand the difference between the various "Contains..." options. I think Adobe was trying to make it simple, but made it confusing and limiting instead.

Maybe the "Contains..." drop-down could be implemented as named regex presets, and Lightroom could ship with a set that implements the current ones for backward compatibility, but also the users could define their own.

Toss in a checkbox for "ignore case", and a better way of handling delimiters (e.g. specify delimiter explicitly, or have multiple lines instead of delimiters) and I'd be a lot happier.

-R
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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The inability to do exact match of multiple keywords is a glaring omission, especially for those with large, controlled keyword hierarchies. While it's possible to select a single keyword in the Keyword List pane, you can't select more than one (Boolean "and"). You can select multiple keywords in a Library Filter column, but scrolling a column with thousands of keywords is painful, partly because Adobe has a non-standard micro scrollbar that's fussy to use. And the only way to do more complicated queries is to use Smart Collections, which can't do exact match of keywords (or other string-valued fields).
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jdv, Champion

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One could argue that metadata come in two flavours: those delimited by whitespace, and those delimited by something else, like a comma. Adobe have chosen the first one, which implies that you should be able to make a gesture that can exclusively search for anything between a delimiter.
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Rob Cole

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The metadata itself has no delimiters.

But in the UI, there needs to be the concept of delimiter if its to support multiple terms in a single search box.

The solution could be a "no delimiters" checkbox - when checked it means search for entered text verbatim. Another common solution is to employ quote marks, but that has the problem that quote marks can be a legal metadata character, so then you have to define an escape character. One could also have a "Contains Verbatim If Substring", and a "Contains Verbatim If Whole"..., but that would just add to the confusion... ;-}
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Jim Burgess

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I'd be curious how often is a comma is actually used as part of a keyword string. More often than not, in most software, it seems the comma is the delimiter between keywords. So people that use a comma as part of their keyword collection have to adjust, while the rest of us (a majority?) could use the space as just another character in a keyword string. How about some feedback regarding commas used within a keyword?
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Jim Burgess

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But if I had a choice of searching keywords that contain spaces working properly all the time, versus a search for a phrase within a caption that might fail because of a comma, I'd take the former. Keywords are just too important in the scheme of things, and having users forced to invent workarounds to a bad design just doesn't make sense.
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Rob Cole

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Its just not that hard to do it right - hopefully we won't have to settle for a partial solution.
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Alan Harper

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FWIW, you can set a keyword with a comma using, eg, exiftool, and Lightroom will handle it. It just won't let you set that keyword on new photos. I am slowly converting my keywords like "Vegetation, forest" to "Vegetation--Forest" on an as-needed basis.
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Rob Cole

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I vote for a search solution that works the same and equally well for all metadata types, whether they have spaces, commas, line-feeds, or anything else in them.
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Rob Cole

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Do any of the keywords in 'controlled vocabulary' have spaces?
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Rob Cole

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SpaceUrchin solves this problem.

UPDATE: AnyFilter also solves this problem
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Rob Cole

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To the forum admin behind the curtain:

Consider converting this to a feature request.
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Lee Hawkins

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This needs to be fixed. It is really aggravating to have a smart collection that is supposed to contain "little planets" and it also happens to pick up "My Little Pony" pictures as well...
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Lee Hawkins wrote, "...a smart collection that is supposed to contain "little planets" and it also happens to pick up "My Little Pony" pictures as well...".

It sounds like you may have used the criterion:

Collection contains little planets

That will match any collection that contains "little" or "planets". If instead you used:

Collection contains words little planets

that will match only collections that contain the words "little" and "planets". That's still not exact match, e.g. it would also match a collection "Planets that are very little", but it would reduce the number of accidental matches quite a bit.

But I agree wholeheartedly that LR has botched the search features by omitting exact match. Don't know what the product developers were thinking...
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Damon Crane

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Whats wrong with using quotation marks to show a string of words, or heaven forbid some kind of smart filter. Adobe seem great at making tools to edit photos, and absolutely shocking at making it easy to navigate a huge library. The thing that makes me laugh/cry is when the folder tree gets over two or three items, or if the folder name is longer than a word or two, you can't swipe left and right to see what is there, it just goes: Fu... or It... haha, good luck with that, what a nightmare, you can't just left click or keyboard shortcut to rename either. You have to right click, select rename, see what the name is, rinse repeat. Miserable.
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Damon Crane

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Oh yeah, and after you search for something and try to scroll down to see what has been returned, it keeps kicking you back to the top for a few minutes until it settles down. It feels like the 90's sometimes in Lightroom.
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Damon Crane

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This is comical too. I am trying to create a smart collection to find a work around. Inside a collection set? Sure, why not. This is the scroll bar I'm confronted with. No option to click in and out of the hierarchy, just an endless scroll with not even an indicator where I am in the scroll!? I have about 200,000 images so the scroll would take an hour. I'm getting the feeling Lightroom isn't built for people with large collections

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Alyssa White

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled LIGHTROOM Smart collections using keywords containing spaces..

When using Lightroom, I have tagged my photos with keywords, some of which contain spaces. However, I don't seem to be able to create an accurate smart collection using these keywords. For example, I have friends "John Adam", "Adam Peters" and "John Smith". When I try to create a smart set for "John Adam", I also get all the photos that have both "Adam Peters" and "John Smith" in them. I seem to get either too many photos or none, depending on what options I choose for the "contains" setting. Any ideas on how I can make smart collections work using keywords with spaces?
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robgendreau

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PUHLEEZE fix this.

I can't believe that in 2016 this is still an issue. I have to at times use other applications just to do what Lr should do itself.
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Damon Crane

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Yup. This is ridiculous. Please fix Adobe.
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Neil Tonge

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This issue has been annoying me since I started using Lightroom. Very very very frustrating. Please fix Adobe!

Let's get this more widely known and hopefully it should push up their priority list a bit further!
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Rob Cole

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Lightroom: smart collection search type that treats spaces as part of the search ....

Presently there is no way to search for "brown hair" without matching everything that has "brown" or "hair" in it. - is there?

This seems like a glaring shortcoming - am I missing something?
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Unfortunately, Rob hasn't been heard from in the LR community for over a year, and his Web site and plugins are no longer available. :-<  
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Alan Harper

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Hi John, I deleted my comment once i realized that this comment of his was a ghost revivified from 4 years ago. I was excited for a moment.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Yeah, the forum software isn't great at handling merges of topics and posts.
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Anders Sorensen

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled LIGHTROOM: Search for exact phrases in Keywords..

A feature I would like to see in Lightroom is the ability to search for exact phrases. For example be able to use something like quotation marks to search for "Red Rock Canyon" in the key words and only get results that have the words Red, Rock and Canyon next to each other and not results like "Red cars climb rocks in Bob's Canyon" which is possible with the current search tool.
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Patrick Philippot

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled No exact match of keywords.

Hi,

Keyword1 = St. Peters
Keyword2 = St. Paul and Peters

There is no way to filter on "St. Peters" in LR, without having to specify "does not contain Paul", which is not a practical solution.

Keyword1 = John
Keyword2 = John Kennedy

These are 2 different keywords. There is no way to filter on John in LR, without having to specify "does not contain Kennedy", although John is a different keyword than John Kennedy ("Separate keywords using commas" set in the Preferences - Spaces are allowed in keywords).

Normally, filtering with Keywords / End with / John should be enough to isolate images with the "John" keyword and exclude those with "John Kennedy".

Problem reported the first time 5 years ago, still not fixed in version 6.4. Any developer should be able to fix this in minutes.

Note: This conversation was created from a reply on: Lightroom: Filter Keywords in the Keyword List panel does not match imbedded spa....
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Neil Tonge

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Can't agree more. Come on Adobe! Please fix this!
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Damon Crane

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Every day I am amazed by how advanced a tool Lightroom is for processing images but how unbelievably, shockingly bad it is at managing a large library of photos. Its like they never spoke to anyone who takes a lot of photos. Are there no Adobe folk loitering around to comment? Its a shocker really. I'm starting to regret migrating from Aperture. If you search for something and have a lot return on the search you literally can't scroll down the results. As you go down it stops and jumps back to the top. Takes about 5 minutes to scroll down to the bottom of the search result, complete joke.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Damon, please be sure to "me too" (vote) for this topic.
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Damon Crane

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Done it. If anyone is good at social media or is a member of photographic communities where I'm sure a great many people are affected by this, maybe post it there and ask for support. Its an absurd omission from the software that really ought to be addressed.
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Patrick Philippot

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Actually, since Lightroom claims to be a professional tool, I think that it should support regular expressions. This feature would allow to solve any problem when searching within text. Although regular expressions are often used by developers, some popular software like Notepad++ or Astrogrep have support for regular expressions. Why not Lightroom?

For those who don't know what a regular expression is, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regular_expression .
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Damon Crane

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I wouldn't mind how simple or complex the command is. It could and should be really simple, a smart search of some kind, but quotes, a tick box, a code. Anything but the inability to search combination of words.