I've got a Lightroom library containing only raw files. Some of them are b&w tiff scans or b&w dng files (that I converted from tiff).

Now simple task: Search my library for just b&w (black and white) photos.

Of course, there is Metadata filter with Treatment column. The problem is, my b&w tiffs/dngs are already b&w, so it's not possible to "treat" them b&w - in Development module treatment switch is greyed out. So Treatment type for them is "Color" - as for all other raw files. Any hints? how can I filter my b&w scans from color ones?

  • 2
    Pretty sure there's no way to do this. There's nothing different about black and white images that Lightroom can search or filter on. This is what keywords on import are for. May 24 '16 at 20:39
  • 1
    If the treatment switch is greyed out, there's obviously a technical property LR recognizes. It should be able to filter on it.
    – ths
    May 25 '16 at 18:04
  • The treatment metadata is used for an image that Lr CONVERTS to grayscale, a parameter it stores. It would know nothing about BW content in an image that was scanned, since it's essentially a color picture of BW content.
    – 211Oakland
    May 25 '16 at 21:33
  • I would imagine that Lightroom recognize file type (b&w tiff) or file color space (8 bit grayscale). Unfortunately, none of this exist. I am leaning towards any workaround that would allow me to do this
    – tutejszy
    May 27 '16 at 11:38

Allright, so here's the good workaround. There's no way to find b&w photos, but you can make a "smart collection". And there is choice for colorspace. I had to choose "grayscale" for tiff files and "Linear Raw" for dng files. See settings of my fiter:enter image description here

And voila! all and only b&w files you see!

  • That is not a working solution for me (Lightroom CC). I have B&W images and none appears in this smart collection. Indeed, my B&W images are recognized as having a RGB Color Mode.
    – Olivier
    May 27 '16 at 18:19
  • Well, some of my scans I saved as RGB TIFF files - in that case the filter does not work. The only way to distinguish them from color images is to do some "intelligent" logic detecting real b/w content. Or pick them manually and convert/save them as B/W TIFF (outside of Lightroom)
    – tutejszy
    May 31 '16 at 13:04

I don't know how to do it with Lightroom, but the dead Picasa will help with its Filter By Colors feature.

Once installed and your images added to Picasa, go to the search bar and tape color:gray.

enter image description here

(image from http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/12-features-of-picasa-that-you-probably-dont-know-about/)

Now you can tag all the matching images for later search in Lightroom.

Resources you may want to use :

If you like your scripts, you can try this method from our friends at StackOverflow using Python/PIL/OpenCV: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/20068945/detect-if-image-is-color-grayscale-or-black-and-white-with-python-pil


There's a Mac program called Deep by Ironic Software that will search for colors. It can't find just BW per se, but if you were to select grayscale values it would tend to find images with a lot of grayscale and rank them, so it might get you started. It can do Mac OS tags but can only read keywords, so you might have to do some stuff to get the BW info back into Lr.


Create a Smart Collect with the setting:

DEVELOP > Treatment > is > black & white.


(I'm using Lightroom Classic CC 7.3)

  • OP specifically mentioned this was not possible due to the fact that the images are b&w BEFORE they are imported into Lightroom Jun 28 '18 at 8:18

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.