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Filter Photos by Keywords

In Photos Workbench, keyword palettes and keyboard shortcuts make it particularly easy to assign keywords to your photos. Photos Workbench can filter albums by keywords, allowing you to find or focus on a specific set of images.

Along with albums, keywords help you organize your images. Typically, albums group photos by event. Keywords are labels that describe the subject of a photo or properties of the photo. Examples: “Family”, “Landscape”, …, “Still-Life”, “Action”, …

Keywords can also be used to flag images you intend to work with or export. For instance, you can assign the keyword “Share” to all the photos you plan to add to the family’s shared album.

Favorite Keywords Palette
Favorite Keywords: Organize your pictures and flag those that you intend to share

Temporarily Flag Images

Suppose you want to use Photos Workbench to tag the images from your latest import into your Photos library. To do this, you can select the imports in the Apple Photos application and assign them a keyword, such as “import-2024-01-11”.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open the Apple Photos application and select Imports in the sidebar.
  2. Click on the first photo you want to work with.
  3. Hold the shift key and click on the last item of the batch.
  4. With the photos now selected, choose Window > Info from the menu
  5. In the Info window, add the import-2024-01-12 tag

Back in Photos Workbench, you can now find these images and work on assigning them descriptive names, locations, meaningful keywords, and more.

Filter Photos by Keywords

When in Grid or List mode, use the Filter menu to display only the items that match specific keywords.

Now, that begs the question: How do I get a particular keyword to appear in the Filter menu?

The Filter menu lists:

  • Keywords from your first Keyword Palette. Typically, this is the “Favorite Keywords” palette
  • Keywords from the currently selected photos
Filter Photos by Keywords
Filter Photos by Keywords

Thus, there are three ways to make the Filter menu list the keyword you want:

  1. Add the keyword to your first keyword palette.
  2. Reorder the keyword palettes so a palette containing the keyword is in the first position.
  3. Select a photo that you know has the keyword. In the above example, this would likely be the last item in the Library.

You can edit or rearrange keyword palettes from the Photos Workbench > Edit Keyword Palettes… menu entry.

Manage Keyword Palettes in Photos Workbench on macOS
Edit or Rearrange Keyword Palettes

This technique works well for frequently used keywords: Add them to your Favorite Keywords palette. They’ll always be available for filtering.

For keywords you use less often or a one-time keyword used to flag photos, select a photo you know has the keyword and, in doing so, temporarily add the keyword to the filter menu.