Video Tip – Smart Collections

Happy video tip Friday! I came up with a really neat tip this week for using Smart Collections for finding my processed HDR images. I started writing it down but it just works so much better as a video. Plus, it gave me the chance to extend on it and explain some examples that, even if you’re not into HDR, you can still make use of the tip. If you’ve got any personal ideas on how you use Smart Collections (or this video spurred some ideas) please make sure you share them with us in the comments. Take care and have a great weekend!

Click here to download the video


Share This Post On


  1. Matt,
    If I re image my MacBook are my files, presets etc. saved with in Light room 3 or are these files in separate folders that i need to save myself before re-imaging???
    cheers craig

    Post a Reply
  2. Unlike Matt, I was never clever enough to change the Photomatix default naming schema. If you have relied on Photomatix standard naming strategy, you can build a smart collection where Filename contains _1_ _2_ _3_ _4_ _5_ _6_ _7_ _8_ _9_ _0_ and it will find them all for you.

    If you want to find the default Photoshop HDR merges, you can search where Filename contains HDR.

    This will help you find those files which were not named for easy of finding and you can rename them enmasse.

    Post a Reply
  3. hello, just wondering if it is possible to make collections private?
    reason for this is because I have lightroom 2 installed on our church computers and we have several photographers that are shooting and editing. I kinda want to have my collections protected and non visible if possible when they are on there, but what keeps happening is that the overall collection of pictures being imported gets dumped into one huge pool of pictures. Even if I use keywords and smart collections.. I still have my pictures accessible to other photographers and we would like to get things in order and keep them that way if possible. thanks.

    Post a Reply
  4. Hi guys

    I have also falling in love with this great feature: being able to catch all the photos ending on “tonemapped” into a smartcollection… BUT, please help me out!!! I have just upgraded my hardware and installed the fantastic Photomatix plugin. It seems the “tonemapped” extension is gone and now, after processing and tonemapping, the file is re-entered in LR as a 16 bit TIF without any chance of changing the naming… So now I cannot use the smartcollection…. Can any of you figure out a place I can set the namingstandard for re-entering files?

    Post a Reply
  5. Thanks for the tip, I love smart collections! Recently I wanted to delete a picture from it but I wasn’t able to, is that possible at all? I just don’t want to go in the the main folder to delete it cause I have many pictures to go thru and decide whether I need to keep it or dump it in that same smart collection. Thanks in advance!

    Post a Reply
  6. Great tip, but I have one question… What exactly is the “edit date” ? I created a smart collection to draw from pictures i have recently edited in LR. Only problem is that it shows a bunch of pictures that I have not edited. I went to find the “edit date” in the Metadata, but can not find such a thing.

    Post a Reply
  7. Nice tips !!! thanks a lot, i never checked what was under collection, now i do! simple as that, thanks for your videos, very generous of you giving that for free! Very professionnal too.

    Post a Reply
  8. This is a great tip as I, like Matt, leave the “tonemapped” extension from Photomatix untouched. The other thing I do to keep my HDR’s (and panos) sorted is the following:

    1) After importing I identify shots that were taken as an HDR (or panorama) set.
    2) I stack those sets together, usually putting a middle shot at the top of the stack so it’s easy to identify
    3) I assigned my purple label as “HDR/Pano” and flag all the images in these sets

    After doing the above I can easily filter my images to just HDR/Panos, and within all are stacked together. After I process an image it becomes part of the stack and is brought to the front. Matt’s tip will help isolate just the processed images rather than the component shots.

    Thanks Mr. K.

    Post a Reply
  9. Excellent tip Matt. As a fellow proponent to all things HDR, I have recently been looking for workflow tips in Lightroom and this one is a good one! Thanks again for all of your hard work and posts. I also want to thank NAPP for recognizing my portfolio in the editors choice. That really made my week!!!


    Michael S.

    Post a Reply
  10. Great tip. It looks like LR2 has a lot of terrific new features. I guess I need to upgrade. By the way, next time you do one of your “informational how does Matt do it” posts how about elaborating a little on how you create your tip videos You may have done this already and I missed it but I think they’re very well done and I’d like to learn how to do them.


    Post a Reply
  11. @Ken

    You could try these settings;

    ‘Edit date’, ‘is in the last “x” hours’ – x is whatever is suitable for you, and I think you want hours instead of days, as you mention you want to return to editing the image after taking a break.

    You could even add a keyword e.g. ‘In progress’, ‘editing’, etc. , and add the following rule;

    ‘keyword’ ‘contains’ ‘editing’

    Remove the keyword ‘editing’ from the image when you have finished with it.

    Hope this helps.

    Post a Reply
  12. Thanks for a great blog Matt also found your Layers book excellent. A query though on the use of these smart collections. Having wached your video I thought of a something that would be of good use to me – to view files in a folder that I had not yet modified. Particularly useful when I have a lot of files that I am working on and have to break off and come back to later. I set this up for a specific folder using 2 criteria “folder” = name and “has adjustments” = false. It worked great but when I then selected a file and went to develop module as soon as I carried out an adjustment it removed the file fromk the collection and gave me the message “no file selected”. I can see why this happened but is there any workaround so that I can complete the edit before it does this?

    Post a Reply
  13. Great Tip Matt, thank you!

    I created a smart collection called “Unsubmitted Copyright” that searches for images “not containing the keyword copyright”

    When I submit a batch, I add a keyword “copyright-MMDDYYYY” so I can easily find which batch I submitted later. I also have a category “copyright-ignore” for things I don’t want submitted to the copyright office.

    Makes for quick and easy locating of what I still need to submit

    Post a Reply
  14. Hi everyone,

    I haven’t watched the video yet.
    But here’s what I have done with smart collections.

    I was importing a large set of photo’s of my family.
    In Bridge I used to tag a picture of my son and me with the following keywords:
    Chris, Marco, boys, man, men, fathers, sons, youth, people, adults, children, 0 years, babies, baby,….

    In Lightroom I now first made a smart collection containing ALL pictures that did NOT have the keyword “Chris”.
    I then went through all the pics and whenever I came across a picture Chris was in, I knew I had to tag that one as well.
    Next: all pics without the keyword “Marco”, scanning the results for photos I am in.
    Then in a normal selection: select all photos containing Chris and Marco and remove the asteriks from the keywords that should be in all photos (like fathers, sons, family, etc)

    So basically I use it to see if a keyword is not missing from a set of pictures.

    Happy holidays to all!
    Greetins from the Netherlands

    Post a Reply
    • I know this was an old post, but since it was “resurrected”, I looked over the comments as well. This is a GREAT tip – about finding photos that do NOT have a person’s name tagged, and using that to tag those pics that ARE of that person.

      Dawn D. in NJ

      Post a Reply
  15. Andrzej, excellent tip !

    I have a smart collection for each lens and camera that i own. So I have an idea of how many clicks i have on each (since we import all the photos to LT).

    I’d like to have an advanced option that I’d specify a parameter and LT would give me distinct values for each. For example, in a selection I’d like to know the different aperture/shutter/iso that i have. So as i have a “perfect” development of a photo, I could apply it to all photos taken with the same setting.

    It would be easy to implement as LT uses SQL but i think it could complicate LT’s interface.

    Maybe as an external plugin ?

    Post a Reply
  16. Thanks Matt, that’s a good tip. I don’t use smart collections as much as I should, so thanks for giving me a push in the right direction.

    Post a Reply
  17. Thanks – one more great tip – esp that recently modified! Wonderful! Happy Holidays Matt

    Post a Reply
  18. Thanks Matt. I make sure my final HDR files are named DSC1234_HDR, so you can quickly do a metadata text search for “HDR” in Lightroom to initially create that HDR collection.

    Worked out well for my wife to pick our 2008 Favorites as well for Christmas Gifts. Just made an aptly-named Quick Collection and set it as the target collection so as she was going through all the photos she simply had to type “B” to add each one.


    Post a Reply
  19. By adding or deleting the keyword ‘online’ to the (virtual) images, and using smart collections it makes it easy to manage and change the images that appear on my website (created with SlideshowPro, and PS).

    Post a Reply
  20. Great tip Matt. Thanks — I’ve really liked using PhotomatixPro. It’s added a great new dimension to some of my photographs.

    Also, I wondered if you had a chance yet to share my idea with the magazine people about providing NAPP members with an online, searchable index of past issues of Photoshop User magazine?

    Thanks again……

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *