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

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  • Problem
  • Updated 3 weeks ago
  • Acknowledged
  • (Edited)
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 8 years ago

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Anders Sorensen

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When Adobe started cloud subscriptions, we were told it would lead to more and faster improvements in the software.  The problem with the search in Lightroom has been going on for years, but Adobe still has done nothing about it. Adobe is for what ever reason, ignoring it.  They seem to be putting whatever development effort they are making in Lightroom into the photo processing area, but Lightroom is supposed to be a database management system too and far too little attention is being given to that aspect of the program.  I can't remember that last time they made an improvement in that aspect of the program.  Database management is what sets Lightroom apart from Bridge.  Adobe needs to pay more attention to it.
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Damon Crane

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Yes. This a thousand times over. How can they be so good at something so complex but have such a horrible database management system. The mind boggles.
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James Harvey

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Quite.  If I wanted a top of the line photo processing program, I'd spend all my time in Photoshop.  This goes double for the mobile Lightroom app, where I don't want to process my shots on the non-colour-corrected screen of an iPhone, but I would  quite like to get on with keywording, titling and rating...
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Anders Sorensen

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I agree fully.  I have no use for lightroom mobile, small screen, not color corrected.  It is a solution looking for a problem.
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Neil Tonge

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Can we try and get more people to vote on this page. The more "1 ups" we get on it then the better chance we have of the issue getting resolved.
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Damon Crane

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Any progress with this awful flaw in your software Adobe?
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James Harvey

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Dear Adobe: could we get this fixed, pretty please...?
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Anders Sorensen

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Adobe, Adobe, wherefore are thou Adobe if not to serve thy customers?  Is anyone at Adobe reading this thread?  Could someone from the company please give us an answer to this problem?
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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Either there is something incompatible with how LR's database engine works and doing these type of searches isn't easy, or Adobe has not prioritized making this sort of change. 

Even if Adobe is working on it (and they'd never tell the public what they're working on until it's ready) I'd guess something like this would not happen in the middle of a version series, though, and we're up to LR 6.5/2015.5, so maybe LR 7 or LR 2016 (if those are the next versions) but not before. 

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Anders Sorensen

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I am quite sure it is the latter.  This type of text search is basic stuff that is included in nearly all database management systems.  Adobe has not given this part of the produce a high priority since the problem has been around for years.  Having done some programming myself, I can tell you it is not that difficult to do.
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William Warby

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It is definitely the latter. I'm a software architect and I can tell you for certain that this would be one of the easiest things in the world to add. Lightroom's .lrcat file is actually just an SQLite database file in disguise - the application simply queries the database using SQL, and from memory I'm pretty sure the tables are structured such that keywords are stored in a relational table rather than as a comma separated string the way they appear in the UI, which would make it trivially easy to query the database for strings containing spaces, and the UI changes required to implement the feature would also be very simple.

Clearly nobody who has any influence over product specification is looking at this thread, otherwise they would have at least responded to the request. Perhaps there are other more effecting ways of communicating the requirement to Adobe we should look into?
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Patrick Philippot

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I'm also a software engineer and I confirm that fixing this kind of issue is a matter of minutes.

This bug belongs to what I have called the "permanent bugs" family. They are here since years and they will never be fixed. Nobody cares. They have become a product's signature. They belong to it. If they were fixed, Lightroom would no longer be Lightroom. More seriously, the mere idea of priority list is the basic reason for which they will never be fixed : there will always be a more urgent major bug to fix. They will never reach the top of the list. There are dozens of such bugs in Lightroom. So commenting about the priority list doesn't make sense.

Actually, there should be two different teams (persons?) dedicated to fixing bugs. One that would take care of urgent bugs, those preventing the product to be used normally and one fixing those minor, so irritating bugs that can be quickly fixed. This team should start working with the bugs at the bottom of the list.
(Edited)
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Remco Douma

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Coming from Aperture, I'm flabbergasted that this isn't supported by default. I can't imagine how the design process of this feature could leave something like this out... Anyway, I voted, but given that this post is 5 years old it seems like Adobe couldn't care less. Quite ridiculous, really.
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John Long

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled keyword search for two words with space.

LR needs facility to match "exactly" the keywords being searched for. Often use two words like small pearl bordered when there is also a different species as pearly bordered. searching doesn't allow them to be separated and brings up both lots. This is a fault in my book and need to be bale to search for two words with spaces in between.
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John Long

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I've received responses from John R Ellis and Simon Chen and can't answer on the links provided as closed.
I have used the "contain words" but this doesn't change the search result. I put in "pearl bordered' and search brings up "small pearl bordered" as well. This means a lot of sifting through to get to what I want. the whole idea of a search is to find exactly what I want. This use to be a search in Aperture I believe where you can search for "exactly" and this is what is needed in LR.
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Damon Crane

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Yeah, the search function and folder organisation features are beyond embarrassing. It's a shocker really. Not fit for managing a large database of images. Seems Adobe don't monitor their own forums though.
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robgendreau

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Folder organization?
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Damon Crane

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Exactly! Catalogues, the indexed file structure is shambolic. You can't edit anything quickly and you can't scroll through a list of names without it buffering. So poorly designed.
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robgendreau

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That's kinda the whole basis behind Lr. It was designed to be modular like that.

Perhaps you'd like Bridge better; it was designed differently, for things like very rapid browsing through folders.
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Patrick Philippot

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Still not fixed in 2015.9.

Anyone at Adobe needing an SQL course ?
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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I have updated the bug to reflect the recent information. 
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Anders Sorensen

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Did you mean to say Blog?  If so, how do I access the blog?
(Edited)
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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No. I meant 'bug'
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Trevor

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Need exact match for collections.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled When creating a Smart Collection inside a Collection Set, the Smart Collection sh....I switched to Lightroom from Aperture - reluctantly to say the least.

Aperture had the ability to limit Smart Albums to filtering a specific album. This rule gave a drop down list of all the available Albums. Pretty simple and straightforward. And best of all, IT WORKED! Heck, even the new Photos app gets this (a screenshot of it is attached).

In Lightroom, in theory, you can limit a Smart Collection to a specific Collection or Collection Set, but it doesn't seem to work constantly.

PLEASE allow Smart Collections to filter via Collection Set.

PLEASE allow the "Collection" filter in the Smart Collection set to be set to "is" (as seen in the attached Photos.app screenshot). If its not an exact match, then the Collection/Collection Set doesn't get included. Including text in quotes does not perform the expected operation.

It shouldn't have to be a trial and error operation to do something which could be SO simple.

This makes Smart Collections a complete pain in the bum to use on Lightroom.

It would be amazing if Lightroom management could know that even the small things matter. 





Note: This conversation was created from a reply on: Lightroom: Smart collections missing criterion for "Collection Set".
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You can usually work around the lack of the Is operator by using Contains All rather than Contains.  The Contains operator matches if the field contains any of the words (e.g. "Hawaii" or "1998"), whereas the Contains All operator matches only if the field contains all of the words (e.g. "Hawaii" and "1998").   

There are common use cases where Contains All isn't sufficient, of course.  And we all agree that LR's text-matching operators are ill-conceived.
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robgendreau

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Yeah, we shouldn't have to hunt around for terms to include as text or have to design stuff like collection names for easy text searching. Lr should give us drop-down menus with the actual items, whether it be collections, cameras, lenses, etc. But we've nagged about this forever. And I would love to be able to save filters as a smart collection as opposed to a filter.
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Anders Sorensen

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One thing you have to watch out for using "Contains" or "Contains All" is they do not match just complete words, but will match parts of words as well such as if you search for the word "Red" it will also return words like "Cleared" because "Cleared"  has the letters "red" in it.  To get only complete words returned, use "Contains Words".  Unfortunately none of Lightroom's text search routines give the expected results all the time, and Adobe, now that it has gone to a subscription business model, does not seem to feel any need to do anything about the database capabilities of Lightroom.  That is pleasing customers is no longer their highest priority.
(Edited)
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"To get only complete words returned, use Contains Words."

Excellent point.  After seven years, I still forget the differences between Contains, Contains Words, and Contains All and have to look them up: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/help/finding-photos-catalog.html

 Contains Words is generally the most useful and the one I recommend (but I got confused this time).
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Anders Sorensen

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I am very disappointed in the new Lightroom Classic CC.  There are no improvements to its database abilities.  When  Brian O'Neil Hughes spoke at Adobe Max 2017 and said he never uses Keywords, that seemed to explain Adobe's attitude towards Lightroom as a database manager.
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Gary Rowe

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Scary !!!
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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I'm sure Brian O'Neil Hughes will also say that an iPhone is a great camera.
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Anders Sorensen

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How serious a photographer can you be if all the information you need about the pictures you have taken is what AI can provide?
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Neil Tonge

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I still can't believe this is ongoing. Please Adobe fix this. Surely you can;t have all these people asking for a feature and for you not to do something about it?
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Patrick Philippot

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 Surely you can
Anyone having a basic knowledge of database programming can. Actually, the right questions are : Do they want ? Do they care ?
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Duncan Moir

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled I would suggest addition of a keyword option of "Contains Only" Is it only me ....

I would suggest the addition of a keyword option of "Contains Only" is it only me or are there others who would find this useful
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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled I would suggest addition of a keyword option of "Contains Only" Is it only me me ....

Containing  only the referenced key word and NO others.

Note: This conversation was created from a reply on: I would suggest addition of a keyword option of "Contains Only" Is it only me ....
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"Contains Words" is often a good approximation of exact keyword match, though it sometimes gives false matches.

The Any Filter plugin lets you do exact match on keywords, as well as several hundred other photo fields.
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Duncan Moir

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Thanks for commenting but unfortunately this results in inclusivity not exclusivity
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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As I said, it's approximate -- "Contains Words" excludes more than "Contains" or "Contains All", but it doesn't exclude all the unwanted keywords.
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Duane Anderson

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Pleeeaaassse fix!!  Keywords need to be able to contain white space.  I have integrations with other areas that require the white space.  Consequently, I am locked out of using smart collections until this bug gets fixed.  Implement a regex feature.  Thanks.
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Jim Robertson

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled filtering one word vs multi word keyword.

I suspect there is a simple solution for this, but as an example, if I have a key word "estate" and another one "real estate" and a third "MacKenzie King Estate". When I do a search/filter for "estate" I get all three whether I uses "contain"/"contain all"/"contain words".

Are there special characters I can use to select the images with the single word keyword "estate"??

Or am I stuck with getting them all or dreaming up a new set of one word keywords?

Thanks
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First of all, merging these post LEAVES OUT a lot of pertinent information from the other posts that seem to be relevant to the issue.  The only way to see them is to follow the links.  Makes it more difficult to resolve issues

Onto the main topic.
This comment is from a linked post.


Johan's above suggestion works great.  As this smart collection filter has been requested in several posts I would think I should be fairly easy to add a choice in the smart collection to do this as in the above scenario.  The filtering programming code is already written as it works as above so it just needs to be added to the smart collections.
(Edited)
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juliefindlow

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Smart Collections for existing keywords and people.

I'd like to be able to click on existing keywords/people to create a smart collection. This would simplify the smart collection creation process and avoid the problem I am currently encountering of my smart collection pulling in the wrong images. (I want a smart collection that pulls in John Smith, but it is also pulling in John Doe and Mary Smith -- all three people exist as keywords but Lightroom is treating first and last names as individual words instead of the first and last name of each person as an individual unit). It seems like I should be able to create a new smart collection and then just click from my keywords which ones I want to include.

And on a different note, keywords seem like an obvious search tool so why do I have to dig through an additional layer to find them when I am creating smart collections (i.e. you have to click on "Other Metadata" to find the keyword option)?
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"I want a smart collection that pulls in John Smith, but it is also pulling in John Doe and Mary Smith"

It sounds like you're using the "contains" operator, e.g.
Keywords contain John Smith
That will match photos that contain the string "John" or "Smith" anywhere in their keywords.  E.g. it will match a photo with the single keyword "Johnson" and a photo with the single keyword "blacksmith". 

Instead, use "contains words":
Keywords contains words John Smith
This will match photos that contain both "John" and "Smith" in their keywords as punctuated-separated "words". That will significantly reduce the number of false matches, though you can still get some; e.g. it will match a photo with the two keywords "John Doe" and "Bob Smith".

You might consider using the Library Filter bar instead of smart collections -- its Metadata browser is the only way to get exact keyword match (without using a plugin), and you can search for a keyword with a single mouse-click.  See the end of this post for details:

https://forums.adobe.com/message/11153430#11153430
(Edited)
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Marco Klompalberts

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My workaround is to create keywords (that don't export) without spaces.
They are like placeholders to filter more easily on.
Instead the real keyword (with spaces) is in the synonyms.



This would be how I would tag a photo that has me in it.
For people in my family tree, a unique identification number (RIN051 in this case) is used that corresponds to the ID number in the family tree database.
But my friend John Doe would have JohnDoe as non-exporting keyword, and John, John Doe and Doe as synonyms.

I use this for workflow as well, but without synonyms, because I won't be exporting these workflowkeywords at all.
Some examples:
  • DoNotX > I have culled these photos and although they are no picks, I don't want to reject them.
    So a smart collection for culling might look like:
    Keywords doesn't contain "DoNotX" and Flag is "Unflagged"
  • ToTagPeople> I haven't tagged all the people in this picture yet
  • TaggedPeople> All people are tagged (if I would create a smart filter based on "Tag People", these might show up as well) 


Like John R. Ellis says you can also use the library filter.
Or you can look up the keyword in the keywordlist and click the arrow on the right side. That will also return any image that contains that keyword.


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juliefindlow

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John,

I was using "contains all" instead of "contains words." Unfortunately switching to "contains words" made my problem worse (collection went from 754 images to 51,128). But thank you for making me aware of the distinction because it solved a different problem I was having.

My dilemma for this collection is that I am trying to create a collection of photos of all the pets in my life (don't judge me). This would include ten (so far) keywords. Originally I was only using a first name for the pets' keywords but there are several of the pets (Riley, Molly, Abbey, and Addison) who share the name of real people in my collection.  So I thought adding last names to my pets' keywords would solve the problem but that led me to stumbling upon the problem which is the topic of this thread - Lightroom doesn't recognize spaces in keywords. So, for example, a smart collection containing the words "Riley Findlow" (my dog) includes false positives for any picture that includes the person "Riley Robertson" plus anyone in my family whose last name is Findlow. This leads me to the conclusion that smart collections are useless. If I wanted to wade through thousands of pictures to find the ones of my pets, I could do that in File Explorer on my computer.

I appreciate you feedback (especially because that explained why looking for pictures of Niko also pulled in every picture I'd taken on my Nikon). I will just have to hope Adobe cares enough to make what seems like an easy and intuitive fix.
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juliefindlow

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Marco,

Thank you for your suggestions of using synonyms. I tried it for this smart collection and it seems to have solved my problem. I will have to start using synonyms when I run into problems like this and then go back and edit my existing keywords as I have time. I have just short of 450 people in my catalog so it is a little frustrating to consider editing that many keywords as a work-around for something Lightroom should do easily.

I also appreciate learning about your workflow tags. I always love to see how other people make the program work for them.

Thanks!
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Here's an easier method. Try 'Start With' rather than 'Contains All' or 'Contains Words'.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I was using "contains all" instead of "contains words." Unfortunately switching to "contains words" made my problem worse (collection went from 754 images to 51,128). 

Hmm, there's more going on here.  Switching from "contains all" to "contains words" can only make the matched set smaller.  "contains all x y" matches all keywords containing the string x and the string y somewhere in the keywords, whereas "contains words x y" matches keywords that have x and y as punctuation-separated "words".

E.g. "contains all john smith" will match the keyword "johnson blacksmith", but "contains words john smith" won't.

Can you post a screenshot of your smart-collection rules using "contains words"?
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"Here's an easier method. Try 'Start With' rather than 'Contains All' or 'Contains Words'."

Be careful with this. For search terms including multiple words, e.g. "starts with Jen Smith", that can often produce fewer false positives than "contains words", but it can still get them, e.g. "Jen Smithson".  

But for search terms with a single word, e.g. "starts with Jen", you could end up with more false positives than "contains words", e.g. "Jennifer".

[There used to be a bad bug with "starts with x", where "x" would match the beginning of any punctuation-separated word, e.g. "starts with John" would match "Bob Johnson". See 
https://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/text_filter_problem?topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bfilter_by%5D=all 

But at some point in the past three years, that got silently fixed. I'll test more and update that bug report.]
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"My dilemma for this collection is that I am trying to create a collection of photos of all the pets in my life (don't judge me)."

There are a couple of easy ways to accomplish this without resorting to the drastic solution of using synonyms, which I think you may regret down the line.

1. Use the Keywords column of the Library Filter bar. Open the Filter bar by doing Library > Enable Filters, click on Metadata, and choose the Keywords column. Then Cmd/Ctrl-click each pet keyword:



Save that as filter preset "Pets". (I obsess on my pets too :->)

2. Put all of your pet keywords under a parent keyword "Pets". Then use the Library Filter bar and select just "Pets".   Or use the smart-collection criterion:

Keywords contains words Pets

The advantage of a parent keyword is that you don't have to update your saved filter preset or smart collection when you add a new pet keyword.
(Edited)
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Just to add to John's comment, sometimes the best solution to make a smart folder do what you want it to do is to introduce a unique string. For instance, if "pets" had been used elsewhere in your keywords, you could use the parent keyword "MyPetsXYZ", and then use that for a search. (Just make sure that the keyword isn't exported!)

I often want to limit a search to a particular folder. I just called this folder "unique123" and set up a smart folder with "any searchable text" contains "unique123". I find it much easier to go to that smart folder and search within it than to find the folder in my folder hierarchy. And I can easily set up smart folders that limit their search to this part of my folder hierarchy.

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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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"Here's an easier method. Try 'Start With' rather than 'Contains All' or 'Contains Words'."

Be careful with this. For search terms including multiple words, e.g. "starts with Jen Smith", that can often produce fewer false positives than "contains words", but it can still get them, e.g. "Jen Smithson". 

True, so 'Start With Words' would be the ideal solution (but does not exist). However, this small problem can easily be solved in a smart collection by adding a second criterium 'Does not contain Smithson'.
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Marco Klompalberts

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But what if the photo contains both both "Jen Smith" and "Andy Smithson"?
With "does not contain Smithson" you will exclude the photo from your search when it should be included.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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True, you can’t win them all. “Start with words” would be what you need, but unfortunately that does not exist. This is a rare problem however, because it would only occur if you have images of “Jane Smith” and “Jane Smithson”. If “Jane Smithson” does not exist in your library, then you do not have to exclude “Smithson”. Other names that include “smith”, like “Andy Smithson”, will not be found if you search on ‘Start with “Jane Smith”.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Perhaps this is the answer: create a smart collection with two criteria that both must be true:
- Start with “Jane Smith”
- Contains words “Jane Smith”
That should exclude images that only contain Jane Smithson, but still include images of both Jane & Jane, or Jane Smith and any other person called Smithson.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Another approximation that gets close in most circumstances for multi-word keywords:

starts with Jane Smith
ends with Jane Smith
(Edited)
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Another complication with all these approximations to exact match is how LR handles the presence of multiple keywords. Two examples:

The criteria "starts with Jane Smith & ends with Jane Smith" will match a photo with these two keywords: "Jane Smith's home" and "Bob and Jane Smith".

Similarly, the criterion "contains words Jane Smith" will match a photo with the two keywords "Jane Crate" and "Bob Smith".
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While the counter-examples to these approximations may seem "rare" to you, the more keywords you have, the more likely you'll trip over them. As the author of the Any Filter plugin (which does provide exact match for keywords and all other fields), I've seen over the years a fair number of surprising gotchas from my customers.  Put another way, there's no accounting for other people's naming of keywords :->

But, to build on Dan's observations, I think we all agree that the lack of exact match is an embarrassing defect in smart collections.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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We certainly do agree on that. 
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As can be attested to by the length of this thread, this is a problem many of us "keyword junkies" have and there are a slew of workaround solutions while we wait for years for Adobe to take this problem seriously (which they have so far shown no intention of doing).  

Without re-reading this whole thread is to adulterate the keyword name for the pets to distinguish them from people.  For example:  "Molly(dog)", or "Molly-dog".  then when using a Smart Collection or filter you can use "Molly-dog" when you want the pet and "Molly !dog"  (Exclamation point in filter means "not") when you want the person.  

For similar situations where I am not exporting the keywords in question I bastardize the keyword by adding an asterisk as the 2nd character.  For example, I have a keyword for each shoot.  So, for example, a shoot might have a keyword of "Shoot 2019-03 France & Belgium".  But specific images would have a LOCATION keyword of either France or Belgium.  So, when I search for "France" I get the whole shoot due to the shoot keyword when in fact some of those images are in Belgium.  To get around this problem I changed the shoot keyword to "Shoot 2019-03 F*rance & B*elgium"  

But, sure would be nice to allow filters and Smart Collections to:

a)  support Quote marks to support multi-word keywords (e.g. "Mary Smith") where it would use the full text inside the quotes as one thing and not treat any spaces inside the quotes  as delimiters, 

b)  Allow "the contained in" nomenclature they use in the Keywords Panel.  For example "Red < Bird" meaning the keyword "Red" that is a child under keyword "Bird" or "Molly < Pets" meaning the keyword "Molly" that is a child of keyword "Pets" 
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Identified and described EIGHT YEARS ago! I keep hoping in the face of all evidence that Adobe will eventually put some attention on fixing and updating the DAM tools in Lightroom. This is simply one of several areas that are well documented in the feedback forum that need some well deserved attention. 

-louie
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Rafael Rosa

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Advanced Keyword Search.

The keyword search filter could have a way of searching for the exact term, and the possibility of having several exact terms, eg "Rafael Rosa", "Edson Rosa" In that term it would only find the words bracketed with quotation marks. full term, so you could find more exact terms, not just from the names
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Robert Somrak, Champion

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Keyword search in Lightroom definitely needs a major tune-up.   Actually, the whole Library filtering system needs some development time.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"The keyword search filter could have a way of searching for the exact term, and the possibility of having several exact terms"

Agreed there should be an "exact match" operator for all fields in the Library Filter bar's Text search and in smart collections. This is an embarrassing oversight in LR's design.

For keywords, you can get exact match using the Library Filter bar's Metadata browser with one or more Keyword columns, e.g.



Click the option menu indicated to switch the keyword listing between hierarchical and flat.  This example will filter all photos containing both "John Rolfe Ellis" and "Karyn Hunt Ellis" (boolean "and").  Selecting more than one keyword in a column will do a boolean "or" of those keywords.

You can save the current filter as a preset, making it easier to call up in the future.

Unfortunately, the user interface is poorly designed and very klutzy to use for large keyword lists. 

A handy shortcut for searching for photos containing one keyword is to hover the mouse to the right of the keyword in the Keyword List panel and click the right-arrow that magically appears:



This will open the Metadata browser with the keyword selected in a Keyword column.

Another handy shortcut: To find a keyword in a large keyword list, use the Keyword List search box:



If you're often searching for multiple keywords (e.g. photos containing k1 and k2 and...), consider the Filter By Keyword command of my Any Tag plugin.