Anyone a Lightroom Keywording Expert?

I’m having a problem keywording some of my images with Adobe’s Lightroom software and was hoping someone might be able to offer a suggestion on how to fix it.

When I first installed Lightroom I did not realize that in addition to actually keywording your photos, you also had to then take a second step and use Lightroom to actually write these keywords to the file manually. With Adobe’s Bridge product it automatically wrote the keywords to the file as you keyworded them.

Unfortunately before I realized this I’d keyworded hundreds of photos thinking that these photos were keyworded when they actually were not. I then transferred these photos from my Mac (where I process) to my PC where I store my archives.

I can run a SmartCollection in Lightroom on my PC to show me all of my photos without keywords (including all of these photos that I thought were keyworded but which actually were not) but if I keyword these photos from that view they immediately disappear before I can actually go and write the data to the file again. I then have to manually try to find these photos which is a pain.

Is there a way to set Lightroom up where it automatically writes your keywords to your files as you enter them rather than forcing you to manually save the data to the file after the fact or some other easier solution to this problem?

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  1. Gary W. Thom says:

    Hi Thomas,

    do you mean you export the photo from raw to JPG, or copy the RAW directory over?

    In the first instance, you just uncheck minimize embedded metadata, I’d also chec the Write Keywords as Lightroom Hierarchy (but that’s me :))

    The 2nd, goto the Catalog Settings, Metadata tab, and check the Automatically write changes to XMP and of course copy the XMPs.

  2. Lightroom does add your keywords automatically once you export the files out of the program. Reading your post, however, it seems that it does not add them to the raw files. Interesting. Never noticed that.

    I typically add my keywords upon import — when I set my import profile — and then they are carried through the export process and appear with the final jpegs.

    Does this help?

  3. Jigar says:


    If you use DNG files, all metadata (including keywords) and LR edits would be saved within the file itself so they can live separately from the LR database or any XMPs. You can use the Adobe DNG convertor to convert. One other side-benefit is that DNG files use less space than the RAW files.

    Given that LR2 uses a brand new version of the DNG spec, not sure how readable that would be by other apps, but my understanding is that it downgrades cleanly so all info would be available except for the new “functions” like LR2’s localized adjustments.

    Here’s a video to confirm:

  4. Brad says:

    You need to use DNG format in order for keywords to be burned into the image file.

    However, keywords will always be associated with images within LR, if DNG format is not used.

  5. Kirk says:

    I also add my Keywords upon importing. Once I import I convert the .NEF to .dng keeping all the Meta data intact. When I export all Meta data seems to be retained. I am still using LR 1.41. I am not sure if the settings or the process have changed in LR 2.0.

  6. Tim Solley says:

    Interesting. I’m having a hell of a time just trying to figure out why LR2 won’t even export the keywords with my JPGs. I don’t choose the minimize meta data option, and I even tried checking the export keywords checkbox, but no luck. The JPGs always come out with no keywords.

  7. Brad says:

    >>> Interesting. I'm having a hell of a time just trying to figure out why LR2 won't even export the keywords with my JPGs.

    The jpeg format doesn't support data fields for keywords.

  8. Kelly says:

    Hey Thomas,

    This article gives a good overview of dealing with metadata in Lightroom 2.0:

  9. Sam says:

    Personally I DO NOT WANT my raw editor to burn the keywords back to the raw files. It’s fine and desirable for it to embed those keywords on jpg output, that’s smart. But a raw editor should neverevereverever touch my raw file, that is my negative and the jpg is my print. Raw files are complex beasts and I do not ever want some 3rd party monkeying with a proprietary file format even if the file structure is fully understood. It can save those as an XMP sidecar but it should never change a single bit of my original.

    I should add that I have hoped that Canon and Nikon would adopt non proprietary Raw formats like DNG, but even with a speculative (for me) native DNG in the future I dont think I’d want my raw editor writing back to that.

  10. Marina G says:

    Lightroom can automatically write keywords into a .jpg file but there is a setting to make it do that. In the catalog settings if you if you check “Automatically write changes into XMP” keywords will automatically be written to the embedded metadata for Jpeg’s, Tiff’s and the like while it will create a sidecar file containing the keywords for RAW files.

    I’ve been doing this since version 1 and even though I don’t have version 2 I doubt they removed this functionality.

    Brad, .jpg files do support keywords as the file format is IPTC compatible.

    What I do notice is that if I keyword a bunch of files at the same time, I cannot do this using the loupe view and selecting files along the bottom of the screen (it only keywords the first file selected) – I have to select the multiple files using the library grid view. This is probably a bug (at least it seems dumb by design) and this may be what others are noticing too and not realizing that only the first file in the multiple file selection has the keywords.

  11. Chris says:

    Howdy … just run your smart collection, then take all the images in there and add them to a regular collection, then do all your key-wording and they won’t disappear before you can write them to file.

    Easy now!