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More Fall Cleaning – Eliminating Lightroom Keyword Duplicates and Misspellings

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.

2017-07-09T12:18:27+00:00 October 3rd, 2011|15 Comments


  1. Victoria Bampton October 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    That’s a really clear explanation Laura, great job!

    • Laura Shoe October 4, 2011 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Thanks, Victoria!

  2. Sunny October 4, 2011 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Thanks for the great explanation. I know I’ve got some keyword cleaning to do, and this just made it easier for me to accomplish.

  3. EvG October 7, 2011 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Very helpful. Showed me how easy it is to let things get sloppy. Thanks for this and for your list of nine ways to keep things tidy. Keep up the good work.

  4. Lars October 10, 2011 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Just what I needed to combine sunset and sunsets. Thanks Laura! Keep it coming.

  5. […] More Fall Cleaning: Eliminating Lightroom Keyword Duplicates and Misspellings […]

  6. […] More Fall Cleaning: Eliminating Keyword Duplicates and Misspellings […]

  7. Jayti Reynolds April 7, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Thanks Laura that is so helpful and perfect timing as I had misspelled Anacortes and could not find how to get rid of it in the book I bought. I love your teaching, you always make everything so easy to follow. Believe me it’s a gift! 🙂

    • Laura Shoe April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Jayti!

  8. Mike Nelson Pedde April 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Very well said! One alternative though, is that once you’ve checked the right keyword and unchecked the wrong one, you can just leave them both and continue through your list. Once you’re done with the list, you can go to Metadata/ Purge Unused Keywords and LR will delete all of the keywords that aren’t associated with any images. Now, if you have keywords ‘in reserve’ that you haven’t used yet, don’t go this route!


  9. Doug April 23, 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Laura, you rock !!

    • Laura Shoe April 23, 2013 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Thanks, Doug!

  10. Don Dement November 26, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Laura, thanks for your work on the intricacies of keywords. I have a couple of thousand, largely because of the “people” feature. I’m in cleanup mode now. Two questions:

    1 – Is it possible to enter a People keyword directly the “old way” without using the people screen – just typing it in as normal but having it tagged as a People keyword? I know I could rt-clk and edit each one with the chk box – big job.

    2 – I have a few dozen keywords that mysteriously and mistakenly were entered in “2d level” under another irrelevant keyword when I typed them in. I need to move them into the top level, but I can’t see a way to drag them there because there’s no higher level to drop them on. Other than reentering them all at the top level, how to move them up a level? TIA —

    • Laura Shoe December 5, 2016 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Don,

      1. Create them as regular keywords, select them all (click on the first, shift-click on the last), right-click, Convert to Person Keywords.
      2. Drag them to the highest level and place in between other keywords. (LR will then alphabetize.)

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