I just installed Lightroom 3 on my Mac when I discovered that the license I had for it was valid for both Mac and Windows.

I seem to remember, but could be wrong, that Lightroom could/would create collections or whatnot that grouped photos by the lens I used, the camera I used, as well as by the date they were taken, but here I only have the Folders-view, which shows all the photos grouped by how they are organized on disk.

I can of course create smart collections for whatever, but I seem to recall that Lightroom 3 on Windows created lots of these smart collections by itself. In other words, what I remember is that if I took a photo with a new camera, a new lens, in a new month, a new year, and then imported that photo, Lightroom would add the required nodes in a tree-based collection.

Note that I know I can pull down the filter bar, and it shows all the things there if I pick the metadata filter, but I remember that I had the same kind of stuff in the left hand panel, under the Navigator and Catalog sections, that I also had some kind of browser there that automatically grouped by the same things. However, the thing I remember was found in the left hand navigator pane, down below the folder view, I don't remember where it was in comparison to the Collections section.

Am I remembering wrong?

If not, does this function, ie. group by camera, lens, date, other types of metadata, exist in the Mac version?

If it does, how do I turn it on? I've scoured the catalog preferences and the program preferences and the view menu, but I can't find anything that matches.


1 Answer 1


Yes, you're correct: what you're describing are Lightroom Collections. You'll see the Collections pane in the left-hand panel, usually at or near the bottom (depending on which module you're in: in the Library module it's below Folders). If it's not there, just right-click on the left-hand panel and make sure Collections is ticked. You may have to scroll down (or close the other panes) to see it.

Collections are a way of building up virtual sets of photos without having to physically relocate them on disk. They come in two flavours: regular Collections, and Smart Collections. (If you're used to using iTunes, a useful analogy is with Playlists and Smart Playlists.) With a regular collection, you drag photos onto it to add them. When you create a smart collection you specify a set of criteria to match and photos then automatically appear in the collection if they match the criteria.

To create a new collection, just click the little + icon in the Collections pane header and choose either Create Collection... or Create Smart Collection....

The set of criteria you can use for smart collections is extensive and very versatile. Using the filters at the top of the Library module's grid view is a good way of filtering the current folder, but smart collections allow you to apply similar filtering across your entire catalog.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, there seems to have been some unclarity in my question, my apologies. What I remember is that Lightroom created a tree-based date-organized, camera-organized, lense-organized, etc. collection-view automatically. I have the Collections section, and can easily create all the virtual collections I want, but I seem to remember that Lightroom had some basic smart collections for dates, lenses, cameras, etc. automatically built in. So that I don't have to keep adding new smart collections for years and months, or new cameras, manually. I guess maybe I remember wrong then. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2011 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ p.s. Just to help clarify the terminology a little: the catalog is your complete set of photos managed by Lightroom. It is possible to have multiple catalogs, although many people just have one. Collections are as I've described above and it's typical to have plenty of them. There's no such thing as a "smart catalog" but I'm sure smart collections are what you were referring to. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2011 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, sorry :P Smart collections. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2011 at 10:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, sorry Lasse, I understand now. Actually that sounds familiar to me too but when I check in my Lightroom they're not there either. Maybe we've both deleted them or imagined it? :) It would be very easy to re-create such collections though. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2011 at 10:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I will try to spin up my old machine and check the Lightroom installation. It requires some work, but I think it might be worth it. Perhaps it was a feature of Lightroom 2 or 1, and was replaced with the filter pane in 3, I dunno. Anyway, after I find out what is in my old Lightroom 3 on Windows, I'll come back here. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2011 at 10:37

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