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One of Lightroom’s major strengths, in my opinion, is its smooth and elegant catalog designed to organize images and make finding specific photos easy. Arrange your photos however you’d like, during the import process or after the fact.

Sort them by capture time or by name. Filter them by capture date (day, month or year), by camera, by lens, by keyword, by shutter speed, aperture, ISO or focal length. Rank them, label them, group them into custom collections.

Do all of this quickly and intuitively.

But, after you’ve organized everything, what is the one click you need to make before searching for that one photo?

Say that you are looking for a photo of Sally in a red dress on her birthday.  You’ve keyworded every photo that Sally appears in with her name. All her birthday photos, from every year, have a birthday keyword. And you’ve even keyworded some photos with “red dress” so you’d know which photos to send to Grandma to thank her for Sally’s new dress. You just don’t remember which year this birthday happened in.

You know you can search using the keyword filter (using control/command click to select multiple keywords for each search). But here’s the deal. You are in the Library module, grid view with the Library Filter set to Metadata (this is where you filter by keyword).all photos filter

Somewhere over on the left panel, you have a location selected. If you’ve been working in Lightroom, most likely you’ve selected a specific folder or collection that contains the images you are currently working on. However, that doesn’t mean the photo you are searching for is in the same folder or collection. And your search pulls only from the currently selected location.

all photos folderSo, before you pull down that Metadata filter, go to the Catalog panel on the left and click on All Photographs. This will ensure that Lightroom is searching for your keyword among all the photos in its catalog.

all photos select

Now, if you know that you are looking for a given image in a specific location that has a keyword you use frequently, it might narrow down your result to click on the specific folder or collection before you search.

Also, don’t forget that you can combine filters. You can search on keywords (Sally, Birthday, Red Dress) and year (2012) at the same time.

all photos metadata

So, next time you are looking for a photo in Lightroom, put some thought into the source of your search. Remember to select “All Photos” from the Catalog Panel if that is truly where you want to search.