An often overlooked feature of the Library Module’s Grid view is the Painter Tool. Do you see that little spray paint icon in the Grid view Toolbar? If you don’t see it make sure you are in Grid view by pressing G, and if you still don’t see it then press T to make sure the Toolbar is visible. What? Still don’t see it? OK, click the drop-down arrow on the far right end of the Toolbar and make sure Painter is checked. Got it now? Good.

Lightroom painter tool

After selecting the Painter from the Toolbar to enable it (or go to Metadata > Enable Painting) you can load it with keywords, color label, flag state, star rating, metadata template, develop preset, rotation setting, or even a collection. Once enabled, the Toolbar will change to reveal the Painter’s options, so if you choose Keywords then a keyword entry field will appear, choosing Label will display the color label choices, Metadata will provide a list of all your metadata templates and so on. This tool can really help speed up an otherwise tedious task and even make it a little more fun. One of the ways I like to use this tool is when I am adding keywords to just certain photos within a folder or collection. It helps to already have a developed keyword list, but you can actually create new keywords this way too. Here’s how it works:

1. Grab the Painter tool. Clicking on the Painter icon transforms your cursor into the spray can icon.

Lightroom painter tool

2. Click the Paint drop-down menu and choose Keywords from the list. In the adjoining field you can enter the keyword you want to apply. You can add multiple keywords by separating each with a comma. Press Enter to commit.

Lightroom painter tool

3. Click and drag the Painter tool over the photos you want to tag with the assigned keyword(s). As you click and drag the can animates to appear like it is spraying.

Lightroom painter tool

If you “overspray” and hit a photo you didn’t mean to spray you can hold the Option (PC: Alt) key to change the painter to an eraser, and click and drag over those photos to remove the sprayed keyword(s).

Lightroom painter tool

4. When you have finished with the Painter you can click the Done button in the Toolbar or press the escape key to exit the Painter tool.

The basic process works the same with whatever item you have loaded in the Painter, however if you are painting with a develop preset (settings) you can’t erase the overspray with the Painter tool. You’ll have to use CMD/Ctrl-Z to undo instead.


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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. very helpful – i had never figured out what that tool was for – another informative blog – thanks


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About Rob Sylvan

Rob Sylvan is a photographer, trainer, and author. Aside from also being the Lightroom Help Desk Specialist for KelbyOne, an instructor for the Perfect Picture School of Photography and the Digital Photo Workshops, and the host of Peachpit’s Lightroom Resource Center. He is a founding member of Stocksy United (a stock photography co-op). Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Photoshop User Magazine, is a regular contributor to Lightroom User magazine, and is the author of many photography related books.


Adobe, Software, Technique & Tutorials


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