Photos Workbench icon

Find Photos by Star Rating

Photos Workbench helps you easily rate, find, and cull your photos and videos, making your Apple Photos library more organized and manageable.

Rate Your Photos with Ease

Photos Workbench allows you to rate your photos and videos on a scale from 1 to 5 stars. While the exact meaning of each rating is up to personal preference, here is one suggested interpretation:

  • No star – Unrated. Still needs reviewing
  • ★ (1 Star) – Rejected. Marked for deletion
  • ★★ (2 Stars) – Keep without adjustments. May have emotional value
  • ★★★ (3 stars) – Okay. Invest time into adjustments
  • ★★★★ (4 stars) – Good. Worth sharing
  • ★★★★★ (5 Stars)- Fantastic. Worth printing

Regardless of how you choose to use the star ratings, the better photos always get the higher rating. Thus, Photos Workbench offers filters allowing you to see items above a particular rating. For example, to see the standout shots of a given album, you can filter to show items rated “★★★★ or better.”

Filter Photos by Star Rating: 4-Star or Better
Filter Photos by Star Rating: 4-Star or Better

What if you wanted to see only photos with a specific rating?

Filter Photos for a Specific Rating

Say you want to give the ★★★-photos a shot at adjustments. You will want to focus on these items. Higher-rated images are already good enough and don’t need further work.

When you assign a star rating in Photos Workbench, it adds a corresponding keyword to the photo. For example, a ★★★-star rating maps to the “3 Star” keyword.
In both Grid and List modes, you can use the Filter menu to display only the items that match specific keywords. Select “3 Star” from the menu to view only items with that rating.

Filter: Photos Rated Exactly "3 Stars"
Filter: Photos Rated Exactly “3 Stars”

Arranging the Filter Menu

First, you must arrange for the Filter menu to list that option. The menu lists:

  • Keywords found on the currently selected photos
  • Keywords included in your first keyword palette

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

  1. Select a photo having the keyword: a photo that shows a ★★★-star rating.
  2. Add the “3 Star” keyword to your first keyword palette.
  3. Reorder the keyword palettes so a palette containing the “3 Star” keyword is in the first position.

Since there is already a “Ratings” palette, we will temporarily move that to the first spot.

  • Select Photos Workbench > Edit Keyword Palettes… from the menu.
  • In the list of keyword palettes, drag the “Ratings” palette to the top spot.
Keyword Palettes: Ratings Palette in First Position
Keyword Palettes: Ratings Palette in First Position

Use Smart Albums to Group Photos by Star Rating

If you repeatedly search for photos with a particular rating, setting up a smart album can save time. While Photos Workbench cannot create smart albums, it can display those configured in Apple Photos.

Head over to the Photos application to create your smart album.

For example, you can create a smart album to show all ★-star photos in your library. According to the rating scale above, these photos are on their way out—one step short of the trash can. You can visit this album periodically, select all photos, and then delete them.

"1 Star" Filter Shows Rejected Photos and Videos
Smart Album: Rejected Photos and Videos

Next, create an album to showcase your best shots. Create a smart album that lists photos and videos having either a ★★★★-star or a ★★★★★-star rating.

"4 Star" or "5 Star" Filter Shows Hero Shots
Smart Album: Hero Shots – 4 or 5-Star Rating

With Photos Workbench, organizing your Apple Photos library is easy. Utilize its rating and filtering features to easily find and manage your photos and videos, ensuring only your best memories are preserved.