Abbreviating Lightroom

By Gene McCullagh
February 16, 2011

Lightroom by its nature helps us be more efficient when working with our images. There are numerous features to speed us along the way when cataloging and processing. Presets, templates, keyword suggestions and so on, cut little bits of time off the tasks at hand. This makes our imaging life a little easier.

However, let's not forget that Lightroom doesn't exist in an Operating System vacuum. There are many applications we can leverage to make Lightroom that much more efficient and powerful. We already know this. After all, we can round trip more complicated editing tasks to Photoshop. Many excellent plugins can be installed to fine tune our editing. So let's take a look at another way to enhance our Lightroom efficiency - text replacement utilities.

If you haven't used a text expansion utility you need to give one a try. There are countless bits of text you frequently type. Whether it's your address, or a paragraph about you, or even a full blown model release, these utilities let you set up a small abbreviation for the text. Then, when you type that abbreviation the utility springs into action and substitutes your text for the abbreviation. Some don't limit you to text and can substitute images and formatting as well! Once you get used to this you will wonder why you didn't use them sooner.

Since I work on a Mac I'll show you my favorite expansion utility called TextExpander from Smile Software. With version for Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, I can have my snippets available wherever I am! If you are using a Windows PC then take a look at Breevy from 16 Software. If you work on both a Mac and a PC these two are ideal since Breevy can read and sync with TextExpander snippets! So let's dive in.

Here is the interface for TextExpander. It comes with several collections of snippets such as the Symbols collection. It also has built in system variables such as date and time. So, if I find myself entering a copyright notice like Copyright © 2011 - Gene McCullagh I can make a snippet like the one shown here: Copyright %snippet:ccopy% %Y - %snippet:lrname%

The snippet called ccopy contains the copyright symbol ©. %Y represents the full 4 digit year. And lrname substitutes your name. Now, whenever you type the abbreviation .lrcr then TextExpander will change it to your copyright notice.

Anywhere you can enter text in Lightroom this utility can help. For example, if we have a copyright notice snippet and a notice like All Rights Reserved. also set up we can use these when making a new watermark.

Bring up the watermark dialog and enter the first abbreviation.

When we trigger the expansion (I use spaces and returns but you can set up TextExpander to your liking) the full copyright notice pops into place.

Hit return and enter the rights notice abbreviation on the next line.

Then that notice will pop into place.

Watermark done! And I can still use these snippets anywhere else I need them. Just a few simple keystrokes and text just rolls right in!

Here's another example of how this can be useful in Lightroom. Take the example of the wedding photographer who likes to identify the people in the caption. The following snippet collection can prove useful. 

Just run through the snippet definitions and swap out the Bride's name for Bride's Name or Bride: Jane Jones for example. then you can run through your images and use your familiar snippet abbreviations /br and /grm to put the names where you want them.
These utilities work well with Lightroom and will assist you nearly everywhere you go on your computer! They are definitely worth playing with. To start you off I have included the Lightroom and Wedding snippet collections for you to download. Right click and choose to download the source file. These are for TextExpander and can also be imported into Breevy if you're a Windows user.


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