How to Tag Photos with Keywords on Your Mac

By Mark L. Chambers

“Okay, albums are great,” you say, “but do you really expect me to look through 20 albums just to locate pictures with specific people or places?” Never fear, good Mac owner. You can also assign descriptive keywords to images to help you organize your collection and locate certain pictures fast. Photos comes with several standard keywords, and you can create your own as well.

Suppose that you want to identify your images according to special events in your family. Birthday photos should have their own keywords, and anniversaries deserve another. By assigning keywords, you can search for Elsie’s sixth birthday or your silver wedding anniversary (no matter which album they’re in), and all related photos with those keywords appear like magic! (Well, almost like magic. You need to choose View→Metadata→Keywords, which toggles the Keyword display on and off in the Viewer.)

Photos includes these keywords, which are already available:

  • Birthday
  • Checkmark
  • Family
  • Favorite
  • Flagged
  • Movie
  • Kids
  • Photo Booth
  • Photo Stream
  • Vacation
  • RAW

The Checkmark keyword comes in handy for temporarily identifying specific images because you can search for just the check-marked photos. Say that you’re searching for 12 great shots for a custom calendar. You can Checkmark those shots temporarily to mark them, and you can remove the check mark when the calendar is finished.

macs-for-seniors-photo-keywords

Click the keyword buttons that you want to attach to the selected images to mark them. Or click the highlighted keyword buttons that you want to remove from the selected images to disable them. You can assign as many keywords to a photo as you like.

To sift through your entire collection of images by using keywords, click the Search button on the toolbar and then type the desired keyword. (You can search for multiple keywords by separating them with spaces.)

The images that remain in the Viewer after a search must have all the keywords you specified. If an image is identified by only three of four keywords you chose, for example, it isn’t a match, and it doesn’t appear in the Viewer.

To view photos by Moments, Collections, or Years, click the Photos button on the toolbar. You can switch among Years, Collections, and Moments views by clicking the Forward and Back arrows in the upper-left corner of the Photos window.