Assigning Flags, Star Ratings, and Color Labels in Lightroom Classic

Adobe Lightroom Classic

After selecting the “best” image from a shoot (the best portrait from a series for example), I will typically assign a “Pick” flag . Likewise, I might flag any images that  I want to delete with the reject flag. Tap the “P” (or the tilde “~”)  to add a Pick flag, “X” to apply a Reject flag, and “U” to unflag an image. Use Command + up/down arrow (Mac) | Control (Win) + up/down arrow to increase/decrease the flag status.

When I need several different levels of distinction between images (editing a wedding for example), I’ll assign Star ratings (three stars for hero images and two stars for supporting detail shots for example). Use the numeric keys 1-5 to apply star ratings and the“[“ and “]” to decrease/increase star ratings.

When I’m trying to remind myself that a file needs special attention, I use the numeric keys 6-9 to apply Color labels (sorry, purple doesn’t have a shortcut).

You can create as many different Color Label sets as needed for different photo shoots (Metadata > Color Label Set > Edit). However you should know that as you change sets, images marked with labels from other sets will appear white. To find images with labels from other sets, use the Metadata option in the Filter bar (in the Grid view in the Library module) to quickly search on different labels applied to images from different sets.  You can also see what Label is applied to each image in the Metadata panel. One word of caution, if you wish to maintain compatibility with labels in Adobe Bridge use the same names in each application.

Holding the Shift key or turning on the Caps Locks will auto-advance to the next image after applying a color label, flag or rating.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Posted on 03-27-2019


  • By Brandon Bibbins - 1:39 PM on March 27, 2019  

    Thanks for this post Julieanne! Im a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles and im currently looking for ways to make more workflow more efficient. When dealing with thousands of wedding photos, I would like to know when do you find best to use color labels? What classifies it as “special attention”?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 11:41 AM on March 30, 2019  

      It’s really up to you – maybe you need to tag some images to print, or to be retouched. Colors are just another way to gag a photo and makes it easy to filter and access…

  • By Irwin Strowe - 12:28 PM on March 30, 2019  

    Love your post and have followed your Lightroom posts for years. Just FYI it’s tilde.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 8:04 AM on April 4, 2019  

      Oops! Thank you for pointing that out! : )