Using Pick Flags in Lightroom

There are three ways to mark images in Lightroom. Each method serves a different purpose and each method should be used in succession.

Using the pick flags is the first method of three highly selective systems available in Lightroom to mark pictures for later selection. Using pick flags is also the best first step in your workflow. The image below shows the three flags available to mark each image.


Pick Flags

The flags represent, from left to right, Picked, Not Picked and Rejected. Thus, the flags should be used in the initial selection to determine the status of the image. We discuss each flag use below.


Rejected flags are discussed first because they are the easiest to assign in the first pass of reviewing a set of images. Any image that is clearly out of focus, black because of a malfunction or lens cap or even an unexpected floor or ceiling shot should be marked as rejected. These are images you never have a prayer of using. These images in all likelihood will be deleted, although you will see we can treat rejected images in a variety of ways. To mark an image as rejected, press the ‘X’ key on your keyboard. The ‘X’ key is used because it is similar to the ‘X’ marking out the image on the flag.


After marking the rejects, the second pass of your image set should be looking for potential keepers. There are really two solid ways to approach using the pick flag.

If the image set is of a specific event, you may want to use the pick flag to sit down with your customer and choose images for later printing. Assuming you have already marked the rejects, you could filter the image set for only picked and not picked flags. Then using the picks your customer makes, you can create a web site, a cd presentation and prints. Finished.

Since my image sets are normally of a specific area or subject, I am looking to include them for sale in one of my portfolios. I use the pick flag to determine which images have potential to move up in the start rankings and eventually become part of a portfolio. At this stage, I am very loose with picks. Any image I do not pick is because I really do not find it interesting at all. In addition, if I have several shots of the same subject in the same position, I will compare them and pick a few for review. I do not normally limit my pick to only one image in a group at this point. There will be time later to refine the selection. We will discuss workflow in another article.

To select an image as picked, press the ‘P’ key on the keyboard.

Not Picked

By default, each image starts out with no flag, or not picked. When I am finished, my not picked images are ones that I am not ready to delete, but that I am not ready to include for further selection either. If you accidentally mark and image as rejected or picked and need to remove the flag, use the ‘U’ key on the keyboard to remove all flags.


Flags are an important part of the selection process. Start with flags when reviewing a set of images. Divide the images into a) certain rejects and b) possible good images. Leave the rest of the images not picked. You can always filter on the not picked images and change the flags later.

After setting flags, move on to rating the images using the star rating system.

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