Custom Labels in Lightroom (Classic)

October 2019


Something incredibly useful, I didn't know or realise was a thing, is defining your own set of labels in Adobe Lightroom (CC Classic). I started thinking about this whilst walking to Waitrose (Yes. I shop at Waitrose. Judge me.) was whether you could create your own custom flags. My reasoning for this was a quick and easy way to mark which images I've posted on Instagram and those I wanted to. What I found was actually far superior and far more useful.

Lightroom users are probably very aware of the label options in Lightroom, able to flag your images as Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. (With the first four being assigned keyboard shortcuts 6 to 9). I use them for different things, such as gig images, after editing grading on red to green for green being definitely supply, to red being maybe and yellow somewhere in-between, and the model shots flagging the ones they like using blue.

An example of my labelling for a gig set

For the record, star ratings are different, I tend to use this first in my workflow to rate the images and thus decided which ones I will probably edit.

If you go to 'toolbar » Metadata » Color Label Set' you can see the label sets in your catalog.

On clicking one, it will update to show those labels in that folder. In my case there are no labels attached to images in this folder using the 'Instagram' Label Set.

However it does display a handy little white label to show that there is a label attached to this image. Just not in this label set.

In the same menu, if you then click 'toolbar » Metadata » Color Label Set » Edit...' It brings up an edit screen for that 'Label Set'. You then get to see what each label 'means' for that label Set.

You can now change the corresponding labels for Images, Folders and Collections. (It also handily shows the keyboard shortcut next to each one).

Once you've changed the labels you can go to the 'Presets' drop down at the top, and choose to either update the selected preset or create a new one'

If you choose 'Save Current Settings as New Preset' you can then give it a nice handy name.

Now this is all well and good... but I think it gets even better. If you now do a metadata search in your library... these labels now appear! How great is that!

Here's one I prepared earlier, showing how I've set it up to show what I've posted to Instagram!

So there we go, a quick and easy way to create your own customer Color Label Sets in Adobe Lightroom Classic. Although this guide was made in MacOS, you can also do it in Windows! Unfortunately as I don't use it I can't say for Creative Cloud, however labels do not appear to be a thing at least on the mobile version. If anyone could let me know any differently that would be great! A label set is attached to your installation. Not the catalog. It's just a facade based on an image metadata.

Lastly, a little reminder, you can't have multiple labels per image (I discovered this post writing this article.. so have accidently broken some of my labelling..) Quite a let down IMHO, but understandable with only five colours available. However. a way round this is to use 'virtual copies'. Going back to the Instagram use case, I tend to make virtual copies in order to crop specifically for Instagram (5x4) so I can just flag that..

However one suggestion could be:

I tend to like to display my best work on my website, which means things are more likely in for the chop, however I tend not to remove work from Instagram, as people have already seen it.

I hope you liked this little walkthrough. I have one other planned about another Lightroom feature. Now I've found this labelling stuff, I may adapt my workflow to use it, so watch this space.