Using Keywords In Photos

If you love organizing your photos, then you want to learn to use the keywords functions in the new Mac Photos app. Keywords allow you to organize your photos in many ways without cluttering up your library with albums. It is easy to create keywords and assign them to photos. Then you can search for photos that use that keyword, or create Smart Albums that update automatically.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using Keywords In Photos.

Hi this is Gary with On today's episode let's take a look at using Keywords in the new Photos app.

So if you are into organizing your photos then you want to learn how to use keywords in the new Photos app because it is a great way to organize them in all sorts of different ways and to find individual photos as well as put together groups of photos very quickly.

So let's start by assigning some keywords to some photos. Let's select a photo, let's dig down here, and I'll select a photo like this one. Then I can go to Window and Info. Bring up the info window about this photo. Here you can see there is a field for Adding a Keyword and I can add any keyword I want. So there is some flowers in this picture and let me create a keyword for flowers. There. I'll type it in and you can see now there is a little tag that appears because under View, Metadata I have Keyword selected and that will then show me this tag here. I can actually click on it and see what keywords are there.

Now I can assign multiple keywords. So this was taken in Hawaii. I'll add Hawaii in there and I've got both of these now assigned to this photo.

Now another way to work with keywords besides using the Info window here, and you can see I can actually select and delete these if I wanted to and easily add new ones, but I'll get rid of that and I can bring up the Keyword Manager.

The Keyword Manager shows me all the keywords I have assigned to any photo here. I can select, you can see it says flowers and Hawaii are set for this but I can say set it for vacation as well and you can see it added vacation to it. I can remove it and you can see it got rid of it there. So it is a very easy was to do it.

You can also add some of these keywords to a Quick Group. So for instance I can drag vacation here and you can see it adds to this Quick Group and assigns this little keyboard shortcut.

So as long as this Keyword panel is open, and this is a floating panel that will always float above what you are doing, I can use this V here and assign. So vacation and remove it. So you can actually use this for some common keywords you assign. So vacation can be one of them and then quickly with just one key stroke add that as long as you have this open.

I can also hit Edit Keywords here and see a list of all these different keywords. I can select one. I can rename it. So, for instance, if I have assigned Denver to several photos I can rename it here and that new keyword will be assigned to all the ones that Denver was assigned to before.

I can add a shortcut to it right here. I can add new keywords or remove keywords. Do anything I want there in Edit Keyword. So you see there is a lot of functionality to make it easy for you to quickly and easily add and remove keywords to different photos.

So once you have assigned keywords you can use them for lots of different things. Like you can just do a quick search for those keywords. Let me search for flowers and you can see it found that word flowers as one keyword there. I hit return and I can quickly see all the photos that I have labeled with it. So without having to create an album at all I can actually search for these!

So say if I assigned keywords like Hawaii and vacation and flowers. Say I had flowers assigned anytime I took a photo of flowers, no matter what year it was, no matter if I was on vacation or at home or what I was doing. I can quickly see all those flowers by doing a search for it. See them all here and then do various things with those photos and I never have to create an album. I know I can always quickly and easily find all my photos with flowers in them by just searching.

Now if I wanted to permanently have something over here where I can quickly see all my flowers photos I could create a new Smart Album and I could call it what I want. So flowers and I can assign it the condition that the keyword is and it shows me all the keywords I have selected and put flowers there. It tells me right now there is one item matched. Now it is here in a Smart Album. So instead of just having to search for it I can quickly and easily just jump to it there.

This being a Smart Album will automatically update as I add new photos that have flowers in them then I will see them appear. So, for instance, let's go and find another photo that I can add to that collection. There is one right there. I'll use Command I to jump here. I will add flowers. It auto completes because it is an existing keyword. Now if I jump to the flowers Smart Album both of them are now there because the Smart Album is going to automatically update.

Likewise if I were to do a search for flowers now I'll get the same result. So you can see it actually shows me there is an album now called that but in addition I'm going to just look at the keywords here and I can see them both.

Now it is easy to assign keywords en mass. So, for instance, I can jump here and say I want to put all of these photos under Hawaii. I can select them all, bring up the Keyword Manager, and then just select Hawaii for all of them. You can see it assigned Hawaii to all of them, or remove them.

So it is very easy to convert albums you may have been using to keywords instead and clean up the left sidebar here.

Comments: 20 Responses to “Using Keywords In Photos”

    4 years ago

    Thanks for the post. Is there any way to add keywords from your iPhone?

      4 years ago

      Haven’t looked too closely. But I don’t see a way.

    Kay Fisher
    4 years ago

    I’ve got tons of keywords but…
    iOS Photos (and the old Photos and iOS iPhoto) never used them.
    Mylio understands all my keywords from Aperture, Lightroom and now Photos.
    Do you know any other iOS app uses the keywords from metadata?
    Sure would be nice to see an Apply solution for iOS!

    Murray A
    4 years ago

    Thanks Gary… this will help a lot…. PLUS I finally learned a bit on Smart Albums. Have you done a vid on how to actually use them to their best ability?

      4 years ago

      I’ll be covering Smart Albums some more soon.

    4 years ago

    I have more than one Photos Library. The problem I’m encountering is every new Photos Library I create starts over with the Keywords coming in from my Aperture Library rather than syncing with the nice, neat, smaller Keywords set I created in my original main Photos System Library. Is there a way to easily change the Keywords in each successive Photos Library to match the keywords in my main Photos Library? Thx for the great video!

      4 years ago

      Right. Keywords are part of the library. I don’t see any way to sync keywords across libraries. iCloud only works with one library anyway, so I don’t see secondary libraries being used for much by most people.

        4 years ago

        Thanks, Gary. I have more than one library because I set up Photos initially as a new Library rather than migrating Aperture right away. Now there’s no easy way to do it, and I’m not sure Photos can handle my massive Aperture Library (140,000 images) anyway. Hopefully there will be a way to merge libraries in a future update.

          4 years ago

          If you are coming from Aperture and you have that big of a library (are you a pro?) then you may want to consider Lightroom instead of Photos anyway.

            4 years ago

            I’m not a pro, I just have tons of photos due to scanning all of my older print photos, plus heritage ones, lots of iPhone photos, etc. I want to stay in the Mac environment with my photo organization. Not an Adobe fan. Thanks again, Gary! I’ll figure it out. :)

    4 years ago

    Gary, do keywords assigned in iPhoto carry over to Photos? I went through all my pics and assigned keywords just before iPhoto became redundant, do I have to go through them again and do the same thing?

      4 years ago

      I’m pretty sure they do. But if you have done it, then you can check pretty easily.

        4 years ago

        Photos brought over all of my Aperture keywords, so I imagine they’d bring in iPhoto ones too.

    4 years ago

    Thanks for a really useful video. Coming from a PC background of many years, I was addicted to Folders and Albums and set about replicating this in Photos. Now I know a better way – thanks.

    4 years ago

    I’m trying to access photos with keywords with Media in Pages. The doesn’t seem possible is it?

      4 years ago

      No. But you could make Smart Albums in Photos that use keywords. And you would see those in the Media browser in Pages.

    Peter Dowell
    4 years ago

    I understand keywords, but I want to add text (titles) to my photos in the new Photo app. How do I do it please? Thanks for your help

    4 years ago

    Hi Gary, very helpful, thanks. Have you done a post on how to share a library with other Mac account users? We use accounts for our family on our iMac, but my account has most of the photos on it. I would like my family to be able to access/share it. Is this possible?

      4 years ago

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that. Your iCloud Photos Library is tied to your iCloud account. You can create shared albums, of course, but you cannot share the whole thing. I deal with it by passing my iPad or MacBook to another family member when she wants to browse our photos.

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