Tagging, Filtering, Sorting, and Searching

Project Description

Learn how to organize files in Exposure using the tag, filter, sort, and search tools.

Photo: Halftone Studios


I’ll start with Exposure already launched. This is the main window. The area in the center shows a grid of files from a photo shoot that I’ll be using for this video.

The first thing I’m going to talk about is categorization. Categorizing your images allows you to easily find them later. Exposure gives you the ability to assign flags, star ratings, and color labels to photos. These categories are remembered across sessions, and you can search and filter by them later.

Flags are useful for culling. Images can be flagged as pick or reject, or they can be unflagged. When you first browse to a photo in Exposure, it is unflagged.

Click the flag icon on the photo to flag the image as a pick. Click it again to reject it. Clicking again removes the flag. To set a specific flag, right click the flag icon and select the one you want from the menu.

You can also use the keyboard to set flags on the selected image. Press the plus key to flag as pick. Press minus to reject. Press minus again to toggle the flag off. Combine this with the arrow keys to quickly navigate around the grid flagging your images.

Holding the shift key allows you to move to the next image after you assign a flag. While holding shift, I press plus. I’m now on the next image. I’ll press shift minus for this one, and continue until I’m done.

That shortcut is particularly useful when you’re culling images. Zoom in to see your entire image by double-clicking. Then, use shift plus and shift minus to quickly process your entire photo shoot.

There’s a full list of keyboard shortcuts on our website. You can access the list from Exposure’s Help menu, or click the link below.

Star ratings are for rating how good a particular photo is. Exposure has a range of 0-5 stars.

Click the stars icons on the photo to set the star rating. Click it again to clear.

You can set star ratings with the keyboard too. Use the keys 0 through 5 to set that many stars on the selected photo. I’ll press the 3 key, and my image now has 3 stars.

Holding down shift allows you to move to the next image with star ratings too. I’ll hold down shift and press 4 to move to the next image. Shift and 2 for this one, and on and on. This allows you to cull a huge photo shoot very quickly.

Color labels give you a way to tag images for various activities. You can use color labels to indicate which images are client picks, or images you’ll use in an album. You decide what the colors indicate in your workflow.

There are five labels available – red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Set a color label by clicking the label control on the photo. You’ll move to the next color with each click. To jump to a particular color, right-click on the control and select from the menu.

It’s even easier to use the keyboard to set a color label. Press 6 for red, 7 for yellow, 8 for green, and 9 for blue. There’s no keyboard shortcut for purple – we ran out of keys.

Now that we have set some ratings, let’s use them! You can use categories for selection criteria by holding down alt while pressing a shortcut key. Let’s hold down alt while pressing the 4 key. This selects all the 4 star images in my folder.

This works with flags and colors too. I’ll hold down alt and press plus. This selects all the pick images. Easy!

You can also select or deselect images that match certain metadata information. There’s a useful list of criteria, so you can really narrow your search.

When selecting images in the grid view, you have three kinds of selection:

  • Clicking selects the image
  • Shift click selects everything between your currently-selected image to the image that you shift-click on. This works great for selecting multiple images
  • Command– or Ctrl-click toggles the selection on or off.

You can apply these same selection commands to entire groups of images by clicking, shift-clicking, or command-clicking on the group headers.

You can also invert your selection, which deselects all selected images and selects all unselected images. This might be useful when you’re trying to select all images that do not have a particular value. For instance, to select all images that have a rating other than 0, you could first select all images that do have a rating of 0, and then press ⌘+U to invert the selection.

Setting a filter affects the current folder and subfolders as long as the include subfolders option is turned on. The filter controls are located on the toolbar below the grid. Let’s set a filter. I’d like to see only pick images, so I’ll click the pick flag. Here are the photos I flagged earlier.

I’ll click the pick flag again to turn it off, so I’m showing all images again.

Now I’ll click unflagged. Here are all the unflagged photos, so picks and rejected photos are hidden.

Let’s save this preset for later. Click the gear on the left side of the toolbar. Then, select ‘Save as New Preset’ from the menu. I’ll give the preset a name, then click OK.

To use a preset, just click the gear icon and select it from the menu. Here is the one we just saved. Exposure comes with a few default presets. Let’s choose the ‘Hide Rejects’ preset. This shows images that are flagged or unflagged.

I’m going to demonstrate another filter, but first I need to clear the existing one. To clear, just hold down the key and press O. Windows users press Ctrl and O.

Filtering by star ratings is a little different. You can choose a number of stars and then specify whether you want to see photos with more stars, the same number, or fewer. The comparison symbol to the left of the star filter controls which photos are shown.

Click the third star. Now we’re showing images that have at least three stars. Here’s one with four stars, and another with five.

Click the comparison symbol. Now I’m showing images that have at most three stars. Everything shown in the grid has zero, one, two, or three stars.

Click the comparison symbol again to filter by images whose star rating is equal to three stars. Here are my three-star images.

Clear the filter by pressing ⌘ (or Ctrl) O again. Let’s filter by color labels. Click the red swatch on the toolbar to show only images with red labels. I’ll add yellow labels and green labels too. Clear the filter again. ⌘ (or Ctrl) O – remember?

You can filter by metadata too. You can filter by a variety of criteria, including camera make and model, lens type, exposure time, f-stop, ISO, and more. You can also filter by the personal info in the Metadata panel: copyright, name, email, and address.

You can can hear more about that control in the Managing Image Files video in this series.

If you have a large folder full of images, it can be handy to sort it in various ways. Exposure sorts by filename by default, but you can also sort by categories like flags and star ratings. Also by metadata like camera make or model, lens, capture time, and more.

Let’s change the sort to capture time. Click the menu on the toolbar to open the sort options and choose Capture Time. Earlier photos are at the top, and they get later as you scroll to the bottom.

Reverse the sort order by pressing the arrows next to the sort menu. Now early images are at the bottom, and they are later as you scroll up.