Lightroom Videos

VIDEO: Smart Collection Tip on Automatically Sorting Your Photos

Yesterday, I wrote a post about 3 features that I’d love to see in Lightroom (but probably won’t). They’re 3 features that I think I’d use, but I’m not so sure the masses would and it would be worth the development effort on Adobe’s time. Well, as I wrote the post, I realized a way that I could sort of do one of the features I was looking for.

See, I often import some photos in to Lightroom and just start editing. I know I’m supposed to go through and flag/rate them right away, but sometimes I don’t have the time or I just really want to see one of the photos in the Develop module and work with it. The problem with that is that sometimes I forget to flag it when I’m done. Then, the next time I go to look at the photos, I have to go find it all over again. So the feature I wanted was some sort of auto-flag feature. Like maybe if I spend 20 seconds on the photo in the Develop module, or add some settings to it, then auto-flag it for me so I don’t forget.

As I was writing the post though, I realized a way that would help with my problem. It’s not a total fix for it, but it’s pretty darn close that I’ll probably take that off my list 🙂 Enjoy!



  1. Frank 6 September, 2014 at 14:09 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I enjoyed your thoughts about “dynamic contrast” in Perfect Photo Suite 8 so much that I bought the software and have started using it. Now comes word of version #9 and the realization that it is really challenging Photoshop in a lot of areas. So the question is, what can a photographer do in PS that he will not be able to do in PPS9 and is it worth the difference?
    I know you are strongly affiliated with the Adobe people but, in my mind, you started this! Ha Ha.

    • Matt K 7 September, 2014 at 20:03 Reply

      Hey Frank. Nothing really touches Photoshop’s retouching tools. Content Aware and the Patch tool are extremely strong. If you’re in to compositing then Photoshop is still the place. Lots of other stuff too, but probably too much to just list here. Bottom line, use PPS as much as you can. If you start to feel you need to do something else, then you’ll probably answer your own question 🙂

  2. Marco 3 September, 2014 at 16:23 Reply

    I’m with Brett. I use presets on import, so every photo “has treatment” (+ no flag + no rating), so it won’t work for me.

  3. Barbara 29 August, 2014 at 20:33 Reply

    Why do my photos shrink after I share them through email? (I’m on a Mac.) Is there any way to retrieve the original size?

    • Scott Vinnicombe 31 August, 2014 at 20:01 Reply

      Are you emailing them from LIghtroom?
      Check your Lightroom email settings, there is an option when you send them to choose an image size…including original size.

      If you are just using another email program then you need to check the settings there to make sure the email program is not compressing the image and reducing size and quality

      Hope that helps

        • Scott Vinnicombe 1 September, 2014 at 18:12 Reply

          Unless you still have the originals on your computer somewhere, then I would say no.
          Your email program will make permanent changes when sending the images, so the images received in an email are what they are.
          However I am being fairly general and would really need to know all the steps you are using to send an image via email. But it sounds like there is a process that is making a permanent change to your original images before sending them. That is where you need to look. What happens when you choose to send an image via email.


          • Barbara 1 September, 2014 at 19:03

            I exported the photos to my hard drive desktop from Lightroom and then attached them to an email. Should I have made a copy first and then used that to export? When exporting from Lightroom is there a point where I could tell it to save the original size?
            Thanks for your help.

          • Scott Vinnicombe 1 September, 2014 at 19:34

            I am guessing your export settings in Lightroom are what is reducing the size/quality of your photos.
            Your originals will still be intact in Lightroom itself.
            So you just need to re-export with different settings if you want a better output.
            Feel free to contact me privately if you like and we can exchange some screenshots as I can’t paste them here to show you.
            Also have a look at this video
            Scott (

          • Barbara 3 September, 2014 at 11:04

            Thanks. I found the originals on my backup external hard drive. Now I will review the export for email process to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

  4. Joe Loehle 29 August, 2014 at 14:45 Reply

    Using a Smart Collection that has

    Has Adjustments (is true) +
    Flagged (is false) +
    Rated (is false)

    would seem to get just the ones you happen to miss. I like this idea.

  5. Kimberly Maxwell 29 August, 2014 at 08:22 Reply

    I am new to LR4, but can’t you also just sort by edit time or edit count in the folder you’re working on? Or in addition add filter by rating so you can see the ones you haven’t rated?

    I like your idea on stacking bracketed shots. It always takes me a bit of extra time to look by exp. compensation to find my -2 0 +2 (or similar). In fact it would be easier on my bridge camera if it put them in that order. I think my fz200 does 0 -2 +2 0 so it takes a sec to see which 0 goes with which over/under. I have every intention of shooting a blank card in between brackets but haven’t remembered to do that even once.

  6. Zyrek 28 August, 2014 at 18:13 Reply

    Excellent ideas. I also wish there was that same feature, because I edit photos all the time and leave them unflagged, for whatever reason. I think that it would be a simple matter of adding a “Photos with Edits” option to the filter bar (where you can filter by flag, color label, or star rating.) Especially if they already have that option in the Smart Collections area.

    Random question: I see that your photos in this video all have the “.arw” suffix… what is that?

  7. brett 28 August, 2014 at 17:21 Reply

    If you use an import preset, this won’t work as it views EVERY photo as having adjustments.

    And why wouldn’t you be using an import preset?? I love that feature.

    • Mike Nelson Pedde 14 September, 2014 at 20:21 Reply

      Brett: You can create import presets that assign keywords, move images to a specific folder, rename images on import, etc. but unless you apply a Develop preset on import your image won’t be shown as having adjustments. Now if you have a Develop preset that you apply to every image on import, then rather than making it a part of your import preset, you could make it the default setting in the Develop module so it applies those settings as soon as you open an image in Develop. Workarounds and workarounds.

      I like Matt’s idea, but I’d probably use it in the opposite way, by setting ‘Has Adjustments’ is false. That way I can set a folder name in the Smart Collection and see only those images that have yet to be processed. From there I can decide whether or not to work on them. I have folders going back several years that have unprocessed images! So much to do, so little time… 🙂

  8. Bill Simmons 28 August, 2014 at 16:41 Reply

    Along with filtering for having adjustments,you can also filter for it not being picked and having a rating of 1 or less. That will collect all unrated or unpicked photos you’ve adjusted. Of course it would build up over time but may still help you find images you started putzing with but haven’t otherwise organized.

    • Keith Starkey 29 August, 2014 at 17:42 Reply

      I was thinking along these lines as well, paricularly using a one-star rating, since I don’t rate my photos. And the build up will diminish each time I remove the rating when I’m ready to work on the photo once for all (“once for all”…in theory!).

  9. Hartmut Kocher 28 August, 2014 at 12:50 Reply

    Hey Matt,
    Couple of ideas:
    – Filter all that have picks => pictures You already flaggend won’t bei shown
    – Filter all that are in other collections => they have been taken care of already

  10. Raj Gupta 28 August, 2014 at 09:54 Reply

    Hey Matt, This is a great tip. I was wondering if there was a way to set the source as the Previous Import so you only include your last imported folder as your quick edits. Also, I don’t think this will work if you apply batch develop modifications on Import to every picture, correct?


    • Martin 15 September, 2014 at 14:23 Reply

      If you select “All” and add “Edit Date,” you then have a range of criteria to limit the selection. I have just tried “is in the last 30 days” and it looks pretty useful as I rarely need to go back further than that to select my immediate edits. Check it out – the options are almost endless.

      Thanks Matt – great tip.


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