For this week’s blog, I was going to write about the changes that have happened to Lightroom in the last week.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should just focus on one issue.  It is something that was totally ignored in this new release.  Not only that, but it has been totally ignored since the earliest beta versions of Lightroom TEN years ago.  We need better keyword support in Lightroom.

I posted about this on Adobe’s support/suggestions forum – you can see my post here:  – within 3 minutes of posting the post was ‘merged’ into page three of a seven-year-old post on the same site.  That’s really going to make it easy for people to see these suggestions!   It’s the digital equivalent of filing it “in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”( to quote Douglas Adams).

[UPDATE 25 Oct 2017:  The above link goes to the original post that I made.  Here’s the link to the thread it was merged in to: – Some people have been upvoting my suggestion.  Please upvote on the merged thread as I believe that is the one that Adobe is looking at for votes.  As far as I can tell any votes on my original thread won’t get seen or counted]

There is no easy way to send this to Adobe – so I’m writing an open letter, and I’m going to tweet about it and share it – tagging Adobe as much as I can, with the hope that it will go viral and the somehow, the powers that be will see it and after TEN years will start to take notice.


Dear Adobe,

It has been raised many times before, but Lightroom needs better keywording support.  As a professional photographer here’s what we need.  There’s TEN of them – one for each year we have been waiting for improvements.

  1. We need an easy way to combine/merge keywords – yes it is possible at the moment but it is convoluted.
  2. We need to be able to cut and paste keywords in the keyword list hierarchy, dragging them around doesn’t really work when you have 10,000+ keywords in your list (as I have)
  3. For stock photographers, we need the ability to change the order of the keywords to put the most relevant keywords first on export.
  4. We need the ability to prevent ‘third party’ images or images which haven’t been exported with keywords in a hierarchy from creating new keywords in the wrong places on import.
  5. We need the ability to filter on synonyms as well as master keywords. Many-a-time, I have needlessly created a new keyword because I had forgotten the one I wanted was a synonym for a different keyword
  6. Autocomplete should autocomplete on synonyms and then replace with the keyword it is a synonym for. Again we can’t always remember which is the ‘master’ and which is the synonym.
  7. We need to be able to filter for keywords with spaces in the name if I want to filter for “Tower Bridge” I want to see just the “Tower Bridge” keyword, not the keyword for every bridge and every tower that I have created.
  8. Keyword sets should not be limited to 9 keywords each. It makes no sense. Allowing those sets to be of variable length would make a huge improvement to the speed in which we can keyword.
  9. We need the ability to work in a larger panel with larger fonts. Managing keywords and metadata in a small side panel with tiny fonts is difficult on the eyes.  Many of us actually spend more time doing keywording and metadata than we do developing our images.
  10. We need to be able to do keywording in on our mobile devices AND have it sync back to LR Classic. It’s just crazy that it’s now available there but doesn’t sync.  We should have our LR keyword list available to us on the mobile devices.  Some of us have spent years building up custom taxonomies to support our business.

Getting any one of these fixed would make a real difference to professional photographers around the world.  LR is 10 years old – some of us, myself included, were raising many of these keywording issues when we were beta testing LR version 1 and TEN YEARS later there has been no improvement.

I had really hoped that we could have seen at least some progress by this stage.  I am truly disappointed in Adobe on this one.


Ian M Butterfield,
Photographer, photography trainer,
Lightroom trainer and general Lightroom advocate.


Do you agree with me?  If you do please tweet this blog, or share it on Facebook, and when you do please tag either Adobe or some of the Lightroom influencers who have Adobe’s ear.  Let’s make sure that Adobe knows what their customers need.

And finally a PS to Adobe – if you read this, and plan to take action, please let me know.  I’d love to be able to tell people you are listening.

[UPDATE 25 Oct 2017: Thank you to everyone who has responded to this blog post over the last few days.  I know it has been mentioned on a number of forums.  Please keep tweeting it and posting links to, let’s try and get Adobe to take notice]


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