When I create a smart-collection in Lightroom 4(.2rc) and select keywords to filter against, I got three different 'contains' to select from:

  • contains
  • contains all
  • contains the words

I wonder what the difference between these is. For 'contains' and 'contains all' I have an idea if several keywords are in the filter field, but what does 'contains the words'?? (hope I got that translation right from my german version of LR).

And what of these is the proper way to search for keywords containing spaces?


"Contains" matches on partial words, e.g. if you select Keywords contains lon it will pick images with the keywords london, babylon, and alone. If you use multiple strings to match with, e.g. Keywords contains lon, lac then it would match images where any keyword contains a part of either string.

"Contains all" will match on multiple partial words, e.g. Keywords contains all lon, der would match images which contain both the keywords london AND wander and also jokulsarlon AND derby, or even one with the keyword 'londonderry' (a single keyword which contains both strings). An image would have to contain matches with BOTH strings to be selected.

"Contains the words" only matches on whole words. So you would need to use Keywords contains the words london to get matches with images containing the keyword london - i.e. the whole keyword has to be matched, not just part of it. As with "contains all", "contains the words" requires ALL the listed words to be present, not just any one of them.

To match on keywords containing spaces, use "Contains the words" and just enter the keyword (without quotes) as two separate words. Commas are used to separate individual keywords, so Contains the words london bridge would match on the two-word keyword london bridge but not london or bridge (or both) on their own as separate keywords.

  • So 'Contains the words' is a 'contains all' with full word compare, not a 'contains' with full word compare? Meaning it will need to contain not some but all words when using Contains the words?
    – Sam
    Sep 25 '12 at 8:51
  • Additional though: it seems LR uses spaces to seperate several keywords in the filter, so it is quite difficult to search for keywords which contain spaces?
    – Sam
    Sep 25 '12 at 8:52
  • Yes, "contains the words" requires ALL the words to be present to generate a match. I'll modify to reflect this. In my testing, if you consistently use a comma to separate individual keywords, it's pretty straightforward to use keywords containing spaces (e.g. "london, bridge, london bridge" is three keywords)
    – NickM
    Sep 25 '12 at 8:57
  • I consistently use commas for separating keywords, but the "contains all words" seems to use spaces to separate them. Meaning: Filtering for "bridge london" does find "london bridge" even though it's a different keyword.
    – Sam
    Sep 25 '12 at 9:05
  • 1
    You're right - there doesn't seem to be a way to explicitly look for multiple-word keywords.
    – NickM
    Sep 25 '12 at 9:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.