[This post is part of our ongoing series introducing Photosmith 2 (free update for all users)]

Let’s face it – keywording is a big deal. In fact, it’s a major reason that most of you use our app. And the current implementation of Keywords is horribly inadequate for the task.

For Photosmith 2 we have completely redesigned keywording and it’s the third headline feature (joined by batch-tagging and two-way sync).  Truth is, this blog post was originally scheduled for 12 days ago but had to be delayed to fix a few holes we identified in our big design review weekend back in January. But, we’re extremely happy to present it to you now! And again, if we’ve done our jobs right, you should look at this and say, “What? Is that all? That’s so obvious…”  If you do, then we nailed it because wrapped up in this simple design is the ability to do every practical thing you could want to do with keywords on your iPad.

[Please note: None of these graphics are final – they are mostly programmer fill-ins. We'll swap in the final graphics as the exact positioning is finalized. But the functionality presented is live.]

Keywords and Batch Tagging

First up, we planned for batch-tagging from the beginning.  If you select multiple photos in the Grid view you can see a list of all the keywords you have applied and the ones that only exist on some images are indicated with an asterick.  This list updates instantly as you add and remove selected photos (and Smart Groups makes selecting your batches so quick and easy).

If you change your filter options to include or exclude more or fewer photos everything updates again tracking right along with you. This includes remembering your now filtered but previously made selections.

The entire workflow of Photosmith is built to make it as fast as possible for you to select groups of photos, act on them, and move on the to the next batch.  So how do you apply keywords?

Applying Keywords

The top-left area contains all of the keywords currently applied to the selected images as the familiar little “pills” like in Mail and other Apple apps.  You can select them and copy, paste, delete, etc. or you can add new keywords.

Below that area and also to the right are columns of your existing keywords. There are beautiful visual indicators showing if the keyword is already applied and the keyword’s full ancestry is listed right below if you use a hierarchy.

Any keyword can drill down –even if it doesn’t already have children– enabling you to create keywords at any level in the hiearchy you want.

Don’t like typing on iPad, prefer to tap? No problem!

The default list shows you all of your existing keywords in a scrollable list in the left column  and you have one-tap access to your most recently and frequently used keywords in the right column (drill down there too if necessary).

Don’t like swiping over and over, prefer to type? No problem!

At the top of the right column is a simple search box. It does live matching against your entire keyword collection as you type.

And guess what? We remember which method you used last and go back there automatically.  It’s a simple thing, really, but it saves you an extra button tap and an animation and that time adds up fast.  This is about pure speed: If Lightroom is an image operating room, Photosmith is the mass-injury triage station.  Sort’em and save’em!

Fast Access to Common Needs

Delete – So what happens if you have that pesky keyword still laying around that was supposed to be deleted ages ago? Swipe left and delete it just like any other good little iOS app!  And you can still purge all unused keywords from the Dashboard sidebar (future post) or really rework your collection using Lightroom, don’t worry, we’ll sync up the changes.

What about when you’ve got the right keywords on some existing images and you just need to sync them up with another one?  Tap that keyword pill and out pops a convienent edit menu.

  • Remove – disassociates this keyword from the selected images (doesn’t permanently delete it from your catalog)
  • Copy – put the keyword in the system clipboard, you can paste it into the keywords search box, the filter bar (yup!), or anywhere else on your iPad.
  • Paste – keywords previously copied. (if you copied plain text from somewhere else you’ll get search matches if there’s more than one possible match)
  • Apply to All –  Applies this keyword to all of the selected photos. This makes it easy to sync up images when you want and not risk messing things up when you don’t. (Only applies to keywords with the asterisk “*” which indicates that not all of the selected images have this keyword applied).


Search or Create – typing into the search box allows you to easily find all of the keywords that match as well as where they are in the tree.

You can tap on a match or with a single tap on the keyword in the create section automatically create it (at whatever level you are at in the hierarchy) and apply it to the selected photos.

[Sorry keyboardaphobes, we haven’t figured out a way to create a new keyword without at least some typing unless you want to go down this route (theonion.com).]

And what of contemplative keywording?

Yup, we’ve got that covered too.


You can review and zoom your full image in Loupe view in case you need to really see the image and inspect it before applying keywords.  In Loupe view, you can see right through the 2nd column keyword drawer to your image so nothing gets obscured.

Need to work through your images quickly? Just swipe from image to image. The drawer stays open and the keywords update automatically.  Since you’re usually working on images in similar batches the Recent and Popular lists are probably going to be pretty handy during this exercise.

Wrapping it all up

Keywording is a surprising hard nut to crack.  By its very nature it’s boring, monotonous and complicated. (If you don’t believe us, we once received a customer’s keyword list that had over 27,000 entries organized by biological classifications and eveything else). There are sometimes strict rules and hierarchy or (for everybody else) thousands jammed all together at the root.  Typing on the iPad isn’t much fun but endless scrolling isn’t either. And finally, the keyboard and a couple of lists take up over 3/4ths of the screen space so making efficient use of every pixel of space is crucial.

Unlike some of the other features in Photosmith 2, we’re not going to claim anything revolutionary here.  And we won’t go so far as to say it makes all keywording “fun” but Photosmith on the iPad certainly makes keywording a whole lot more enjoying than sitting hunched over your computer for hours. But, this is something we’re proud to give to you.

Posted in: Current Progress, Design | 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Meet v2.0: Keywording revisited”

  1. That looks brilliant – I might finally get around to keywording my back catalog while watching tv of an evening!

  2. Dean Ayres says:

    Looks great. I’m looking forward to the release date.

  3. Richard Southworth says:

    Ok, I’m on the road shooting lots of images each day, sorting into categories, adding keywords, etc. When I return home will I be able to spend a few minutes selecting multiple collections on the iPad, start a thousand image transfer into Lightroom, and go away until it’s completed?

    • Chris Morse says:

      Yes you can. You have two options:
      1) Plug your iPad into Lightroom using the USB cable (much faster image copy speeds than wifi) and import all of your photos using Lightroom’s usual methods. Then run the Photosmith sync over wifi; since we’ll only be syncing the metadata changes you made this will take less than a few minutes.

      2) Skip the USB cable entirely, open Photosmith and tap to open the sidebar for each collection you want to sync and tap the sync button and the sync will begin immediately in the background and you can keep using the app. As you tap sync for the rest of collections you are interested in they will be added to a queue to run as soon as the previous sync task finishes. You’ll be able to see the state of everything in the Activity Center found in the sidebar.

      * Yes, this means you’ll be able to *initiate* the sync process from the iPad itself in version 2. Everybody say, “oh yeah!” (You can still start it from the Lightroom side too)

      * While you can keep using the app while sync is going on, we don’t recommend trying to zoom very large images or doing other memory intensive work at the same time. The iPad is just too memory constrained to do too many things at once. Here’s hoping the iPad 3 fixes that.

      • Richard Southworth says:

        (2) appeals to me, can create “keeper” collections on the fly as well as a “reject” category, come home and turn it loose. The increased download time doesn’t bother me, as long as I can invoke multiple collections transfer at one sitting.