Flagging Photos In Lightroom – Everything You Should Know

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Adding flags to your photos in Lightroom is an essential way to organize your image folder and speed up your workflow. Flagged images are the most basic way of culling and organizing images and are a perfect starting ground for catalog organization. There are many different ways flags can be used in Lightroom, and the process of adding a flag is quite simple.

To flag a photo in Lightroom, right-click on an image and choose Set Flag > Flagged. A white flag will appear beside the photo indicating it as a “pick.” To set a reject flag, follow the same steps as before, this time choosing Set Flag > Rejected. Now a black reject flag will appear.

Now let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of flagging images in Lightroom and how to make the most of this simple feature.

What Is A Flag In Lightroom?

A flag in Lightroom is a way to separate your photos into wanted and unwanted categories. Images with “Picked” flags can be later edited and viewed independently, while images with “Reject” flags can be put aside to be later deleted from Lightroom.

Ultimately they provide the most simple solution for separating the best photos that you want to edit from the ones you want to delete—things such as blurry or poorly framed shots, for example.

With flags, your organization methods remain very simple, making them beginner-friendly to use. Your image is either unflagged, flagged, or rejected.

By default, all your images will be unflagged when you import them into Lightroom. As you scan through your images, you can quickly add a “picked” flag to the best images of the bunch, so you know which ones you want to edit.

For the ones that are beyond saving or just unwanted, you can add a reject flag instead to quickly delete your photos from Lightroom and save space on your computer.

How To Flag A Photo In Lightroom

To flag a photo as a pick in Lightroom, right-click on the image and choose Set Flag > Flagged. Alternatively, you can press P on your keyboard to speed up the process. To set a reject flag, right-click and select Set Flag > Rejected or press X on your keyboard for the same result.

Especially when you use these two keyboard shortcuts, you can go through marking hundreds of images as picks or rejects very quickly.

For example, while in the Library Module, access Loupe View in your toolbar to view your images independently.

Then use the left and right arrow keys to scan between all of your photos.

When you see a photo you want to edit, press P to set it as a “Picked” flag.

Then once you see a photo you aren’t as excited about, press X to set a rejected flag.

Depending on which flags you assign, you can later filter these photos so you only edit, export, or delete a particular group of images. More on that later.

Types Of Flags In Lightroom

1. Picked Flags

Picked flags are indicated by a white flag beside your photo in the Library Module or filmstrip. You can think of these flags as the “good guys,” as they are used to mark all your favorite photos.

2. Reject Flags

On the other hand, Reject flags indicate photos that you don’t want to use and will likely delete later on. Once a reject flag is added to your photo, it will become greyed out, and a black flag will appear in the corner of your photo. With these two indicators, it’s easy to steer clear of these unwanted photos while you work.

Duplicate images, blurry photos, poor framing, and more are just a few reasons why you may want to use a reject flag in Lightroom.

How To Only See Flagged Photos In Lightroom

To filter your Lightroom Library to only see flagged images, go to the Attribute setting in the Library Module. From the Flag options, select the white flag to view your “picked” images. Now only your flagged images will appear in the library while any unflagged or reject photos are hidden.

The attribute setting can be found at the top of your Library Module while in grid view. Here you’ll find different filter options for your image folder from flags, ratings, and color labels. Since you want only to view your flagged images, select the white flag icon found beside the “Flag” option.

If you are in the Loupe View of the Library Module or the Develop Module editing your photos, you cannot use these steps. Instead, you’ll need to use the filter option found in the filmstrip of Lightroom.

In the upper right corner of the filmstrip, click on the filter options. By default, this will read “no filter” since no filter parameters are set.

From the provided options, click “Flagged.”

Now only your flagged images will appear in your filmstrip. This does the same thing as the attribute option in the Library Module, but just in a different place. You will find yourself using the filter option in the filmstrip whenever you are not inside the Library Module.

Another way of setting this filter option, so you only see flagged images is by simply clicking on the flagged images icon found in the upper bar of the filmstrip. This will automatically set your filter setting to flagged as well.

It’s worth noting that these above methods only show you your picked flags, not rejects. The reject flags can be filtered using the same processes as above, except choosing the reject option instead.

How To Flag Multiple Photos At Once In Lightroom

To flag multiple photos at once in Lightroom, hold Command or Control and click between the different images you want to flag. Once your desired images are highlighted, right-click and choose Set Flag > Flagged. Now all your selected images are flagged.

This can seem quite confusing at first since selecting multiple images and using one of the keyboard shortcuts you’ve learned so far won’t work. Instead, it only applies a flag to the image you are currently viewing, despite having multiple selected.

There are several ways to select multiple photos in Lightroom, but the easiest is holding Command (Mac) or Control (PC) and clicking between your images.

If your photos are in a sequence, click on the first photo, then hold the Shift key and click on the last photo to highlight a series of photos at once.

Once everything highlighted, right-click and choose Set Flag > Flagged or Set Flag > Rejected depending on which type of flag you want to add.

How To Unflag A Photo In Lightroom

To remove a picked or rejected flag from a photo in Lightroom, right-click on the image and go to Set Flag > Unflagged. To speed up the process, select your image and press U on your keyboard to unflag your image.

It’s not uncommon to accidentally flag an image or realize you don’t want a particular image to be picked or rejected. Pressing U will remove both types of flags and set the image to unflagged.

If, however, you want to change a reject flag to a picked flag and vice versa, simply press P or X with the photo selected. Even after applying a certain type of flag, the keyboard shortcuts available to you will still work.

Now, if keyboard shortcuts aren’t your thing, remember you can always right-click on your photo and choose between the different flagging options.

How To Delete Flagged Photos From Lightroom

To delete flagged photos in Lightroom, filter the Library Module to view Reject Flags Only. Double-check all the displayed reject images are unwanted, then go to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos. Now All your Reject Flagged photos will be deleted from Lightroom.

When deleting photos, this is where Reject flags become the star of the show. While you’re sorting through your images, adding reject flags as you go will make it easy to delete all your unwanted images at once.

Once again, to mark a photo as Rejected, select it and press X on your keyboard. Alternatively, right-click on your photo and choose Set Flag > Rejected. Either of these options can be done in the Library Module or the Filmstrip.

After going through all of your photos and marking the rejects as necessary, filter your library only to see Reject flags. The easiest way to do this is by clicking on the Reject Flag icon in the upper bar of your filmstrip.

If you are in the Library Module, you can press Attribute > Reject Flag Icon to filter your images as well.

Before deleting your photos, make sure to go through them quickly to double-check you actually want everything deleted. It’d be a huge pain to delete a photo you wanted to keep accidentally! If there is a photo you want to remove the Reject flag from, simply select it and press U on your keyboard.

Finally, to delete all your rejected photos, go to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos.

You can then choose to remove the images from Lightroom or your disk.

Removing from Lightroom will delete the photos inside your catalog while still leaving the files stored on your computer.

Removing the images from the disk will remove the photos from Lightroom and permanently delete the files from your computer.

And now you have successfully deleted your reject flagged photos from Lightroom!

How To Export Only Flagged Photos From Lightroom

To export only flagged photos from Lightroom, set the filter option in your filmstrip to “Flagged” so only flagged images appear. Press Command/Control + A to select all the flagged images, then go to File > Export. Now all of your flagged images will be exported from Lightroom.

Since there isn’t an export flagged images option, you have to filter your library and manually select your flagged images instead. Although it might sound confusing, this can be done in seconds!

First, filter your images to only view your flagged images. By clicking on the flag icon in the filmstrip or finding the flag icon under the attribute panel on the Library Module, you can quickly do this.

Now that only your flagged images are displayed press Command + A (Mac) or Control + A (PC) to select all your images at once.

Then go to File > Export to begin exporting only your flagged images.

To double-check all of your images were selected for export, look at the top of the export window in Lightroom as it will read the number of files selected for export.

Now go through your export settings and choose what exporting options you want to use. In most cases, converting your images to JPEG is the best solution.

For an in-depth guide to the best export settings for social media, print, and more, check out this post.

How Do You Move Flagged Photos?

To move flagged photos in Lightroom, press Command or Control and click between the flagged images you want to move. Once selected, click and drag these images into a different folder listed in the “Folders” panel of the Library Module. Now your flagged images have been moved to the new folder.

Let’s break this down with some screenshots to make a little more sense, shall we?

The first thing you need to do is select the flagged photos that you want to move. Then, to make life easy, filter your Library so only your flagged images appear. Just as you learned earlier in this post, set the filter option to Flagged in the filmstrip.

If you want to select all of your flagged photos at once, press Command/Control + A to select all.

However, if you only want a few images to be moved, hold Command/Control and click between your desired images.

With your images selected, make sure you’re in the Library Module, and then look for the Folder Panel on the left side of your screen.

Here are where all your import folders are located. You can move your flagged photos to an existing folder or create a new one specifically for these images.

To create a new folder, right-click on your active folder and choose “Create Folder Inside” to create a new child folder for your flagged images.

Now click and drag your selected flagged images and drop them into your newly created child folder. If you didn’t create a new folder, you could do this same process to add the images into a separate parent folder.

You’ll see the number of files in the folder change once the files have been moved. Clicking on the new location, you can see all your flagged images in their new home.

When you create new folders in Lightroom and move around your flagged images, these changes will be made on your computer as well. For example, as you can see below, the child folder and all the flagged images from Lightroom were moved into this folder on my actual hard drive as well.

This is important to remember, so you don’t get confused about where your files went on the back end!

So now you know the ins and outs of flagging photos in Lightroom, how they work, why they’re useful, and so much more. Flagging photos is an important part of staying organized while photo editing, but it only touches the surface. To further your organizational skills, check out this tutorial on sorting thousands of photos quickly in Lightroom.

Happy Flagging!

Brendan 🙂

Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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