Intro to Smart Collections

Smart Collections are a powerful organization tool in Lightroom. The power lies in a Smart Collection's ability to automatically update the images contained in the collection. Unlike regular collections, where the contents are fixed and you add or remove images manually, Smart Collections use a set of rules you define. Whenever an image matches this set of rules it appears in the Smart Collection. When you combine Smart Collections with Collection Sets you can get some amazing results. So let's get started!

We'll start with the simple premise that we've used color labels to organize some images.

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Start by creating a new collection set. Click on the + next to the Collections panel title.

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Choose Create Collection Set... and the following dialog will appear

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Name the Collect Set "Color Labels". Now click on the + again and this time choose Create Smart Collection...

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Give the Smart Collection a name that reminds you of what it collects. In this case we'll use "Red Labels". Under Set choose the Collection Set we just created.

The next two sections are where the smart part of Smart Collections comes in. There are two options for Match, ALL and ANY. Think of these two as AND and OR. The large part of the dialog is where you can add your rules for collecting. The rules all follow the general pattern FIELD/ATTRIBUTE | OPERATOR | VALUE. In this example "Label Color" is our FIELD/ATTRIBUTE, "is" is the OPERATOR, and "red" is the VALUE.

If we wanted to add additional rules to this Smart Collection we would click on the + at the end of the line to add an additional rule line. Keep adding rules until you narrow down the collection as you want. When you're done press CREATE.

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Once created you are taken to Collections with you new Smart Collection selected. Since we only had one image with a red label we see only one image in the result. Unlike a regular collection, if we add a red label to another image it will instantly appear in the smart collection.

Now let's repeat the process and create Smart Collections for Yellow, Green, and Blue labels storing each in the Color Labels collection set.

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By clicking on any of these Smart Collections we can see the images that meet their rules. If you select more than one you will see the aggregation of the two.

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If you choose the Collection Set then all of the contained Smart Collection results will be shown.

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Take a look at Smart Collections and see how they can enhance your workflow!