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How to assess photos quickly with a star rating system

Lesa Snider | Feb. 6, 2015
Assessing photos isn't the most titillating task on the planet, but it's mission critical if you ever want to find certain photos in your expanding collection. Happily, most photo management apps--including iPhoto, Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Bridge--provide you with myriad marking methods such as flags, keywords, colored labels, and star-rating systems.

The second assessment (once more with feeling!)

Make a second pass through the photos and assign a 2-star rating to those deserving. As you go, click the flag icons — or press Command-period (.) — to flag the 2-star photos that you want to do something special with (say, post on Twitter or Facebook, add to your blog, include in a photo book, turn into a black-and-white, or whatever).

Use the Search field at lower-left of iPhoto's toolbar to see only those photos with a rating of two stars or higher. Press Command-A to select all the 2-starred shots and then press Command-N to plop them into a new album (you can always continue your assessment within the album). At the top of your screen, click the album's name (untitled) and enter something meaningful.

Delete the no-star and 1-star shots

While you're still in full-screen view, click the All Albums button at the upper-left to see thumbnails of all your albums. Double-click the Last Import album (or whatever you were assessing), mouse up to the top of your screen and when the menu bar appears, choose View > Sort Photos > By Rating. (If the menu bar doesn't appear, tap the Esc key to exit full-screen view.)

Next, pick Ascending in that same menu so the unrated thumbnails appear at the top and the highest-rated photos appear at the bottom. Click to select the first thumbnail at the top of the photo-viewing area, and then drag the scroll bar downward until you see the last 1-star photo. With informational overlays turned on (choose iPhoto > Preferences > Appearance and check the box for "Show informational overlays"), you'll know the instant you scroll into multi-starred photo territory.

Shift-click to select the last 1-star photo, as well as all thumbnails in between. At this point, only photos with no stars or a 1-star rating should be selected. Steel yourself and press the Delete key on your keyboard — iPhoto will tuck the rejected photos into its Trash folder, where they await permanent deletion (you still have to choose iPhoto > Empty iPhoto Trash to get rid of them).

That's all there is to it! Again, this strategy works in any program with a star-rating system, though you may need to root around to find filtering controls.

Having an assessment strategy like this goes a long way toward keeping your photo library manageable. And if nothing else, it's a great starting point for creating an assessment strategy of your own. After all, the more you use it, the more you'll be able to tweak this strategy to your liking. Until next time, may the creative force be with you all!


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