In my first Lightroom Fall Cleaning Post, one of my 9 suggested tasks was deleting unused keywords.  In this post I will explain how to clean up duplicate and misspelled keywords.   We will use the Keyword List panel, which is below the Keywording panel on the left in Lightroom’s Library module.

If you have a misspelled keyword and don’t have another version with the  correct spelling, simply right-click on the keyword in the Keyword List panel and select Edit Keyword Tag.  In the dialog box, change the Keyword Name in the dialog box that comes up, and click Edit to save the change.

If you already have another version with the correct spelling, Lightroom won’t let you rename the old one to the new one directly, so the process is more involved.  Here’s another example from my catalog of where I have multiple keywords that mean the same thing:

Duplicate Keywords in Lightroom

Three versions of the same keyword

In this catalog I have 64 images with the keyword “Abstract”, 11 with the keyword “abstracts”, and another 9 with the keyword “Abstract” as a child of “PHOTO TYPE”.

Getting this down to one keyword, in my case Abstract as a child of PHOTO TYPE, requires first assigning the good keyword to all the images with bad ones, then removing the bad keywords.  Here’s the easy way to do it:

As you hover over the first bad keyword, notice the arrow to the right:

Lightroom Duplicate Keywords Filter Shortcut

  • Click on that arrow to bring up in the grid images with that keyword assigned — it is simply a shortcut to a filter on that keyword.
  • Select all the images in the grid.  I like to use the shortcut Ctl/Cmd-A (A stands for All).

Caution: the order of the following two steps is critical!

  • Back in the Keyword List panel, put a checkmark to the left of the GOOD keyword, to assign it to all the images, by clicking in the box to the left of it.  (Location shown in green below).
  • THEN  remove the checkmark to the left of the BAD keyword by clicking on it (location shown in red below):
Replacing one keyword with another

Add the Good Keyword Before Removing the Bad One

  • All the images disappear from the grid, because they no longer meet the filter condition of having the bad keyword.
  • Finally, right-click on the bad keyword (which shows zero images), and choose Delete.
  • Repeat the process with any other bad versions of the keyword.
If you accidentally remove the bad keyword first, the images disappear from the grid and you can’t assign them the good keyword.  If this happens, immediately do a ctl/cmd – Z to undo your last step, and try it again in the right order.
Fall cleaning may not be fun, but it sure does feel good to get it done! To clean up more Lightroom clutter, read my first Fall Cleaning post.