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3.6 Graduate to Smart Collections

Smart Collections are the best way to save your favorite metadata filters. Give Lightroom a list of metadata criteria, and it will show you the images that match. They’re always up to date with the images that meet the rules.

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3.6 Graduate to Smart Collections

The best way to put together all of our new metadata knowledge is with this capstone lesson to our dig deeper with metadata section. We've already looked at how to filter your images, which is the process of giving Lightroom metadata criteria and showing the images that match. What if we could save those filters and jump back to the mini time. Meet Smart Collections which do just that. This is another one of my favorite Lightroom features because it can save us a ton of time and really power up our collection. Let's create our first. Smart Collections live on the same collections panel but in reality do something completely different than a standard collection. Let's go ahead and press the Plus button and choose Create Smart Collection to create our first one. The screen that pops up can be a bit intimidating, but don't worry, we'll walk through it step by step. What we need to do when we start a smart collection, is think about the images we're trying to find first and foremost. Let's say that we wanna create a smart collection that allows us to jump to our five star images with just a single click. Let's call this smart collection 5 Star Favorites. The bottom part of this window is where we give Lightroom the rules that we want our smart collection to meet. Now you can see that rating is already pulled in. We'll look at some other options here in just a minute but all we need to do for this collection is set this to five stars. Now the smart collection 5 Star Favorites is gonna pull any image that has a rating of five stars. Let's go ahead and click Create. Now you can see on the left side that I've created this five star favorites collection, which shows all the images in my library that have that five star rating. So let's look at the coolest part of Smart Collections. You can see here right now that 5 Star Favorites has 48 images inside of it. If I jump over to All Photographs and add five stars to another image and then come back to my 5 Star Favorites collection, you can see that it now has 49 images. And it added that image that I just gave five stars to. The best way to describe a smart collection is a saved always up to date filter. So if I go back and add five stars to any other images it's always gonna show up in the 5 Star Favorites collection. Let's create a smart collection that'll show our favorite images but just from last year. Let's go back to the Collections panel and press this Plus button to get started. I'll choose Create Smart Collection and this time I'm gonna go ahead and call this 2015 Favorite Photos. Now you can see that we still have the rating is five stars but let's loosen the restrictions up just a little bit. From the is drop down, I'll go ahead and choose is greater than or equal to and we'll drop this down to four stars. Now this is gonna show us any image that has either four or five stars. The dropdown options here allow us to add a lot more complexity to the way we wanna pull our images in. We can set a is less than or equal to, or is in a certain range, for example, and it'll only show the images that match. Now keep in mind that so far we've only selected images that are four stars or greater. We also need to add a date restriction to this. To add our second rule, I can go ahead and press the Plus button. From the rating dropdown, let's go ahead and choose Date. Now this dropdown has a lot of different options for how we can search for images. We can basically search for any part of metadata that's attached to an image such as a keyword, a file type or even the kind of camera we use to capture an image with. So from Date, I'm gonna go ahead and choose Capture Date, and again, we have a lot of dropdown options here, from the second dropdown. We can choose images that were captured on an exact date, or before or after a certain date, but to pull images from the year 2015, we'll need a range. And that range is just gonna be 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-31, all of the days in 2015. So with that in mind, we now have two rules here. Not only does an image have to meet a certain star rating, it also has to meet a certain capture date. Once I click Create, you can see here that I'm now just viewing the five or four star images from 2015. And I can see from the left side that it has fewer images in it than our 5 Star Favorites collection. So we can keep adding those rules and really restrict the images that our smart collection shows us. Let's go ahead and look at one last tweak that affects the way we can work with Smart Collections. I'll go ahead and create one more by pressing the Plus button and choose Create Smart Collection again. So let's say that I need a Smart Collection that pulls all images in that have either a blue or a green color label. We talked about color labels earlier, and you probably know that the way you use them all depends on your needs, and they can mean anything in your workflow. But let's just say that we need to pull all of those images in. So I'm going to go ahead and call this smart collection Blue & Green. And color label status is one of the many things that we can pull in when we're building our smart collection. I'm gonna change the rating dropdown to Label Color. And right now it says is, and I'm a gonna go ahead and change this to Blue. Now we also need a line that pulls in all the images that have a green color label. So I'll press Plus, then change this again to Label Color is, and then change it to green. One of the other things that you might remember about color labels, is that each image can only have one of the color label statuses. It can either have a red label or a blue label or a green label, for example, but our smart collection, is designed here to pull all the images together that have either of those. So what we need to do is change this Match All drop-down to Match Any. Now only one of these lines has to be true for an image to be included in our collection. Now you can add as many lines as you need here, and with a Match Any setup, an image only has to meet one of those rules to be included in this smart collection. So when I click Create, all the images that have either a blue or a green color label will be pulled into this smart collection. And just like with the other smart collections, if any other images get a blue or a green color label it'll show up here as well. All of this just scratches the surface of what's possible when it comes to smart collections. It really amazes me the variety of options we can use with them. You can do these same types of searches with other bits of metadata such as the flag status, keywords added to an image, or even the lens used to capture an image. As the dropdown options show, you can include practically any part of an image's metadata in a smart collection. They're perfect when you find yourself filtering to the same rules over and over. Keep building those smart collections for always up to date one-click filters.

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