How Keyword Multiple Images At Once In Aperture 3

by Mike on April 19, 2010

Now that I’ve finally picked up Aperture 3, I’m going to start posting tutorials to help you get the most out of the software.

Here’s the first lesson.

As I’ve discussed, it is vitally important to keyword your images in Aperture. Effectively keywording your images helps you find images what you’re looking way quicker than simply scanning through projects and folders manually, and this is doubly true when you’re dealing with a very large photo library.

It also helps future-proof your photo library. If you ever switch programs, you’ll still have those same keywords in your EXIF data. Plus, if you use Flickr, keywords embedded in your metadata wiill show up as tags – a big help when you’re uploading lots of images at once.

Now the best time to add keywords to your photos in Aperture 3 is during the photo importing process. It’s not that it’s easier – but if you get in the habit, you’re unlikely to postpone and forget keywording altogether.

However, you can still do it after the fact.

Here is the best way to add keywords to multiple images at the same time in Aperture 3.

Fire up a project, and then select the images you’d like to keyword:

  • To select a series of images that are next to each other, hold shift while you click the outermost ones.
  • If they are not in a row, hold down command while you click each one.

If you look at this picture, you’ll see that I selected all the photos in the middle row: (click to see bigger)

Next, hit Control + Shift + B, which the shortcut for “Batch Change,” which you will find in the Metadata menu on the toolbar.

You’ll see this dialog box come up:

Next to where it says “Add Metadata From,” you may need to select “Basic Info,” which brings up a series of fields including the one we’re looking for – keywords.

Now, stuff that field with anything relevant to the photo – where you took it, who is in it (first names, last names, and nick names), what kind of picture it is (landscape, portrait, etc.), any equipment that’s not in your EXIF data (meaning other than camera and lens. Yes, it’s tedious, but you’ll thank me later when you have no trouble finding anything in your photo library.

Once you’re done, just hit OK and that’s that!

I’m going to have more tips and tutorials coming, so please sign up for the RSS feed!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Parker April 19, 2010 at 10:28 am

Another way is to select images the way you’ve described and use SHIFT-H to open the keyword window and drag and drop from there.

David May 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm


Chris’s suggestion doesn’t work for me because it still doesn’t allow you to apply a keyword to more than one image at a time, so not sure how that helps.

It’s surprising to me that the most obvious and intuitive way to do this isn’t how it’s done. It should be that you multi select images and then click on a keyword and that keyword is applied to all the pictures, but that doesn’t happen. Mike’s tutorial works, but it’s not as easy and simple as it should be and so easily could be, but thanks for it anyway.

Geert JM Vanderkelen May 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Although it works, a batch change is not needed.

Chris’s solution works, but you have to be careful that `Primary Only` is disabled (check the Edit Menu).
I blogged about this here:

Adam July 22, 2010 at 7:18 am

“If they are not in a row, hold down controll while you click each one.”

I think you mean cmd – not controll.

Thomas August 10, 2010 at 6:38 am

Edit-Primary Only, Uncheck!

That is the information I was looking for. I don’t know if it worked differently in 1.5 or not, but I was enduring a lot of frustration with keywords. Thank you Geert.

Mike August 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

Folks, I use the batch-change method because that’s what they taught me at the Apple Pro Labs course.

Just use whatever works best for you – there is more than one way to skin a cat in Aperture.

Adrian October 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Wow, thanks for your post. I have been merging old photos from various discs and couldn’t apply metadata to certain photos on import and couldn’t find out apply meta data to multiple photos. Your post was a game changer. Gotta love the internet…
thanks again 🙂

Jonathan Elliman January 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Chris’ method does work across a selection if you drag the keywords from the keywords hud to the thumbnails selected in the secondary viewer.

mulchie August 14, 2011 at 9:01 am

I almost never input keywords on import, so this is a real life-saver. Thanks so much for posting. I’m now going slowly through my unwieldy library re-filing and re-organizing and this is streamlining the whole process.

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