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Chapter 4. Viewing and Finding Photos an... > Finding Photos and Video Clips

Finding Photos and Video Clips

One of the greatest benefits of the Organizer is the ease with which you can find photos. It offers several tools and methods:

  • Finding by date, either by scrolling in the Photo Browser or using Date View. With this method you aren't limiting the photos shown in the Photo Browser; you're just navigating to those of interest.

  • Searching by tags, collections, history, caption, note, filename, or media type. With this approach, you're narrowing the range of items displayed in the Photo Browser.

  • Filtering what is shown in the Photo Browser, such as to narrow the time range shown or eliminating certain media types, such as videos or creations. Filters are not reset when you clear a search (by clicking Back to All Photos).

The following sections describe each method of finding photos in the Organizer. Once you become familiar with these methods (and perhaps spend a little time organizing), you'll be able to quickly and easily find the photos you want.

Feedback About Searches

Whichever searching method you use, two areas in the Photo Browser window give you feedback about your searches: the top and the bottom.

Any time you do a search, the Find bar at the top of the Photo Browser shows what the search is based on (Figure 4.22). To return to viewing all photos, click the Back to All Photos button.

Figure 4.22. The Find bar indicates what search you have performed so that you'll know how the contents of the Photo Browser have been constrained.

At the right of the Find bar are check boxes that you can click to show up to three sets of results—best matches (Best), close matches (Close), and nonmatches (Not). It also shows the number of photos in each set.

By default, only the best-match set is shown; you can display the others by clicking their check boxes (see “Finding with Tags,” later in the chapter). If two or more tags are selected, the best-match set is the photos with all of the tags, and the close-match set is the photos with any of the tags (but not all of them).

The bottom of the window shows additional status information: the total number of photos (or other items) currently displayed in the Photo Browser, the range of dates represented, and the number of items not shown (Figure 4.23). Those not shown include photos that don't meet the search criteria and ones that have the Hidden tag applied.

Figure 4.23. The status text at the bottom right of the window shows the total number of photos found, the date range that was searched, and the number of photos not shown.


The date range shown in the status line reflects the range of photos searched; the range of dates in the results is likely to be narrower.

Finding by Date

In many cases you may only need to find photos by date—and as long as your photos come from a digital camera, this organization is automatic. The Organizer provides several tools that make it easy to find photos by date.

Scrolling with the timeline

The timeline at the top of the Photo Browser makes it easy to see the months in which you took a lot of photos and to quickly scroll to any month. The height of each bar indicates the number of photos in that month. When you do a search, part of the bars of the months containing photos that match your search results darken. The bar's outline represents all the photos in the catalog for that month, while its dark portion reflects your search results.

To scroll immediately to the desired month and year, just click the bar for that month on the timeline. If the month or year you're looking for is not visible in the timeline, click the arrow button at either end of the timeline to make it scroll. When you select a month on the timeline, a green rectangle appears briefly surrounding the first photo for that month, and its date flashes.

Setting the date range

You can also use the timeline to restrict the range of photos shown in the Photo Browser by dragging the endpoints (Figure 4.24). This applies a time filter to the Photo Browser; items outside the selected time range won't be shown, regardless of any tag, caption, or history search you've done.

Figure 4.24. You can narrow the time range considered in any search by dragging the endpoints from either end of the timeline.

Dragging the timeline endpoints allows you to select a time range as short as one month, but you are restricted to monthly increments. You can set these endpoints to specific days (Figure 4.25) in the Set Date Range dialog (Find > Set Date Range).

Figure 4.25. To set the start and end points to specific days, choose Find > Set Date Range.

The timeline filter isn't cleared when you click Back to All Photos after a search; it persists until you manually reset it, either by dragging the end markers back to the limits of the timeline or by choosing Find > Clear Date Range.

Using Date View

Date View gives you an entirely different way to find and browse your photos. In Date View all photos are always included in the set being browsed, regardless of any timeline constraints you may have set or tag searches you may have done in the Photo Browser.

Enter Date View by clicking the Date View button in the upper-right corner of the Organizer. Then click the Year, Month, or Day buttons at the bottom center of the window to choose among those views.

Using the year view

The year view shows an entire year at a glance (Figure 4.26). All days for which you have photos are highlighted with a color (see “Holidays and Events” for more information on calendar colors). If you pause your pointer over one of the dates, a tool tip shows how many photos (or other items, such as video clips) are associated with it.

Figure 4.26. In Date View's year view, each date that has photos associated with it is highlighted with color. A different color indicates holidays and user-defined events.

To move one year forward or back, use the arrow buttons on either side of the year at the top of the window. To jump to a specific year, click the year, and a menu listing all the years for which you have photos will pop up.

To view the photos from a particular date, click the date and the first photo from that day will appear at the top right of the calendar window (Figure 4.27). Click the green arrow button under the photo (the play/pause button) to see a mini–slide show, or use the left and right arrow buttons to move one photo at a time.

Figure 4.27. The photo viewer at the right of the year and month views allows you to view individual photos.

You can view a full-screen photo without leaving Date View by pressing F11 or right-clicking the photo and choosing Photo Review. To see a full-screen slide show for all the photos on one date, click the day once to select it, press F11 to enter Photo Review, and click the play button in the toolbar.

Holidays and events

You'll notice that certain dates in the year view are highlighted in maroon instead of blue. These are standard holidays. You can change which holidays appear by choosing the Calendar pane of the Preferences dialog (Figure 4.28). Uncheck the boxes next to any holidays you don't want to be specially marked in Date View.

Figure 4.28. In the Calendar pane of the Preferences dialog you can choose which holidays are highlighted and add your own special events.

You can also add your own special dates, which will be highlighted in green in Date View. This is useful for birthdays and other dates when you're likely to take pictures. You can make a day event by clicking the New button in the Calendar pane of the Preferences dialog, or by clicking the Create New Event button above the Daily Note field in Date View.

When making a new event, you specify the name of the event and its date in the Create New Event dialog (Figure 4.29). Day events are associated with a single date and cannot span multiple dates. You can choose whether the event repeats every year, is only in one year, or spans a certain number of years.

Figure 4.29. In the Create New Event dialog you can make your own day events for birthdays and other occasions on which you regularly take photos.


Don't confuse day events with event tags; they're entirely different. A day event is just a name associated with a particular date, which is represented by a special color on the calendar.

Using the month view

I find the month view generally to be the most useful (Figure 4.30). It displays (by default) the first photo for each date right on the calendar. It also shows the names of holidays and day events on the calendar.

Figure 4.30. The month view is similar to the year view but shows only one month, with the first photo from each date displayed in that date's square.

You can change which photo appears on any day using day view, as the next section describes.

If you pause your pointer over a date on the calendar, a tool tip shows how many photos you have for that day. To see the photos for a given day in the viewing window at the upper right, click the date. That viewing window works just as it does in year view. (See the following section on the day view for a description of the Daily Note field).

You can move forward or backward a month at a time using the arrow buttons at the top of the calendar, or you can jump to a month or a year by clicking the month or year at the top of the calendar and choosing from the pop-up list that appears. The small photo icon in the list shows months and years for which there are photos in the catalog.

Using the day view

You can get to the day view by either clicking the Day button at the bottom of Date View or double-clicking a day in either the month or the year view. The day view divides the screen between a filmstrip (a scrolling list) of all the photos from that day and a large image of one photo (Figure 4.31).

Figure 4.31. The day view gives you quick access to all the photos from one day and allows you to enter both a daily note and a caption.

To choose a different photo for the large display, just click its thumbnail in the strip to the right. Use the scroll bar slider to access more thumbnails. You can also use the Next Item and Previous Item (left and right arrow) buttons below the large image, or start a self-running slide show by clicking the green play button in the middle.

In the day view, you can also enter captions for individual photos, in addition to a daily note. You can move to another day using the controls in the upper-right corner of the window.

You can also use day view to choose which photo you'd like to have shown for that day in month view. Just right-click the photo you want to use as the image for that day, either in the large-photo view or on a thumbnail in the filmstrip, and choose Set as Top of Day.

Taking action

After you've found a photo using Date View, you can fix, print, edit, export, and do most other things with that photo without leaving Date View; just right-click the photo and select the function you want. You can't select multiple photos in Date View, however, so you can't perform any multiple-photo actions (like making a creation).

To use Date View to find photos and assemble a collection, first create the collection in the collections view (Organize > Collections). You can then add photos to it from Date View by right-clicking the photo and choosing Add to Collection. You'll see a list of all your collections; pick the one to which you want to add this photo.

Alternatively, you can use Date View to find the photo of interest, and then return to the Photo Browser with that photo selected by clicking the Show in Photo Browser button below the photo. (You might, for example, want to select this photo and some others for printing; in Date View, you can select only one photo.)


Date View and the Photo Browser are not linked together, in terms of the photos being displayed or the point in time. Each view remembers its own position in time, and each will stay at that point as you switch between them. Use the Show in Photo Browser button to scroll the Photo Browser to a photo you've found in Date View.

Working with unknown dates

If you have scanned photos, you may want to use the unknown-dates feature (see Chapter 3, “Organizing Your Photos”). You can set a date to entirely unknown or partially unknown (for instance, you might know the year but not the month).

Photos with unknown dates are sorted in the Photo Browser as being earlier in time than photos with known dates. If the date is entirely unknown, the photos appear at the top of the Photo Browser if arranged by oldest first, or at the bottom of the Photo Browser if arranged by newest first.

Photos for which only the year is known appear before (in the time sequence) any other photos in that year. Similarly, photos for which the year and month are known appear before any others in that month, and photos for which only the time is unknown appear before any others on that day.

You can find all photos with unknown dates or times by choosing Find > Items with Unknown Date or Time. The best-match set shows photos with entirely unknown dates; the close-match set shows items with partially unknown dates or times (see ”Best-match and close-match Results“ in the following section for more details).

A box containing a question mark in the upper-right corner of the year view indicates photos for which only the year is known (Figure 4.26). Photos for which the month but not the day is known are shown in the upper-right corner of that month in either the month or year view. Photos with entirely unknown dates are not shown.

Finding with Tags

Having invested the time to tag your photos, you reap the payoff when you want to find them: You can instantly locate photos using any number of tags as search criteria.

To find photos with tags, first make sure the Tags palette is displayed (in the Photo Browser, open the Organize Bin if it's not already open, and click on the Tags tab if it's not already selected). Expand categories and subcategories as needed so that you can see the tags you want to use for searches.

To search on a single tag, just double-click it. The Photo Browser will show only photos with that tag.

To find photos with more than one tag, click the box to the left of each additional tag you want to include (Figure 4.32). (Don't double-click tags to add them to the search; double-clicking a tag is a shortcut for clearing any existing search and then clicking the box for that tag.) Alternatively, you can drag tags to the Find bar. You can include as many tags as you want. You can also search by categories and subcategories.

Figure 4.32. You can search using multiple tags by clicking the box next to each tag. Note that the timeline shows small dark bars for the search results.

Best-match and close-match results

The Organizer divides the results of the search into two categories: best match and close match. The best-match results are those that have all the specified tags. The close-match results are those with any of those tags. (Best-match and close-match sets are defined differently for other kinds of searches, but they are conceptually similar. For example, if you search for multiple words in a caption, the best-match set includes photos with all the words in the caption, and the close-match set includes photos with any of the words.)

Normally, the Organizer displays only the best-match results. To display the close-match results, click the Close box at the right of the Find bar (Figure 4.33). The Photo Browser then shows results that are either close or best matches, intermixed in a single sequence.

Figure 4.33. With the close-match box checked, photos with all or any of the specified tags are shown. Photos that don't have all of the chosen tags are indicated with a check mark in the upper-left corner.


If there are no best-match results, the close-match set is displayed automatically.


There is no such thing as a close match on a single-tag search, or on most non-tag searches. Close-match results appear most commonly for multi-tag searches.

With the best- and close-match boxes checked, the Photo Browser shows photos with any of the tags chosen. Photos that are part of the best-match results have no icon in the upper-left corner of the thumbnail, whereas those that are part of the close-match results are identified by a check mark—but all appear in a single arrangement, as chosen by the usual arrangements pop-up menu at the lower left of the window.


If you find that you generally want the close-match results displayed, you can change the default behavior by choosing Edit > Preferences > General and checking the box for Show Closely Matching Sets for Searches. Now the close-match box in the Find bar will be checked automatically for every search. You can still uncheck it when you want to see only the best-match results.

If you select a category or subcategory as part of the search criteria (by checking the box to its left), Elements searches for any photos to which you have applied that category or subcategory, plus any photos that have any of the tags in that category or subcategory. For example, if you search on the Family subcategory, the results will include any photos to which the Family subcategory has been applied, as well as all photos with any of the Family tags.

Excluding photos with certain tags

You can also exclude certain photos from search results. Right-click on a tag and choose Exclude Photos. The red circle with the diagonal line appears instead of the binoculars (Figure 4.34). Photos with the excluded tags will not appear in the search results.

Figure 4.34. You can also choose to exclude photos with certain tags from the results.

For example, if you click the boxes for the Gregory and Amanda tags, you'll get photos of the two of them. If you instead exclude photos with the Amanda tag, then only photos with Gregory but not Amanda will be shown.

Boolean Searching

Unfortunately, you can't specify searches directly using AND and OR—but it may help to understand how the Organizer's searches translate to Boolean searches.

Suppose you search on three tags, TagA, TagB, and TagC. The search results are

  • Best match = TagA AND TagB AND TagC

  • Close match = (TagA OR TagB OR TagC) AND NOT (best match)

If you search on categories, the logic is a little more complex. If you search on CategoryA and CategoryB, each of which has two tags (for example, CatA-TagA, CatA-TagB), the search performed is

  • Best match = (CategoryA OR CatA-TagA OR CatA-TagB) AND (CategoryB OR CatB-TagA OR CatB-TagB)

  • Close match = ((CategoryA OR CatA-TagA OR CatA-TagB) OR (CategoryB OR CatB-TagA OR CatB-TagB)) AND NOT (best match)

Finding by Collection

Finding by collection is, in some ways, just like finding by tags. With the Organize Bin open, click the Collections tab. Double-click a collection to display it in the Photo Browser (see Chapter 3 for more on collections).

Collections are mutually exclusive, so you can search based on only one collection at a time, and you cannot combine a collection search with any other type of search.

Finding by Creation

If you have made a creation (see Chapter 8), it will be represented in the Photo Browser by a thumbnail with the creation icon in the upper-right corner (Figure 4.35). You can find all the photos in the creation by right-clicking the creation's thumbnail and choosing Show Creation Items in Photo Browser, or by dragging the creation's thumbnail to the Find bar at the top of the Photo Browser.

Figure 4.35. Creations are represented in the Photo Browser by a thumbnail of the creation's first page, with a creation icon in the upper-right corner.

To find all creations, choose Find > By Media Type > Creations.

Finding by Caption or Note

You may sometimes have information in a caption or note that is not reflected in your tags. For example, if you take a trip to Paris, you might tag all the pictures you took there with a Paris place tag. For the pictures of the Eiffel Tower, you might put the name Eiffel Tower in the caption.

In such cases, searching the captions and notes is a quick way to find specific photos. Choose Find > By Caption or Note, and enter your text in the Find by Caption or Note dialog (Figure 4.36).

Figure 4.36. Choose Find > By Caption or Note to search on text in those fields.


Caption, note, and filename searches are not case-sensitive.

This search always clears any existing search. So if you have previously searched based on tags and then do a search on captions or notes, Elements will find all photos that match the search, even if they did not match the tag search. (Unfortunately, you cannot constrain the caption search to photos that match a tag search.)

If you enter more than one word, the Organizer does not search for the phrase. Instead, it provides in the best-match set all photos that have all the words you entered, regardless of the order in which they appear and what other words may be present. The close-match set, if you choose to display it, includes all photos with any of the words you entered.

For example, suppose you search for beach Bermuda. The best-match set would include photos with captions like “On the beach in Bermuda” and “On our trip to Bermuda, we spent lots of time at the beach.” The close-match set would include any photo with a caption that has either of these words, such as “Our hotel in Bermuda” or “My favorite beach.”

The Organizer will match any word that contains the text you enter. For example, if your search word is beach, it will find captions that include not just beach but also beaches, beached, and beachhead.

By default, the Organizer will match only words in which the text you entered is at the start of the word, like playing, played, and playground. You can change this behavior, however, by clicking the radio button for the “Match any part of any word in Captions and Notes” option. You'll get all the matches as described previously, but you'll potentially get additional—and sometimes surprising—matches as well. For example, if you choose this option and search for play, Elements will also find captions with the words display or replay.

Finding by Filename

If you have renamed some of your files with meaningful filenames, you may want to take advantage of them in searches. Just choose Find > By Filename and enter part or all of the filename you're looking for in the Find by Filename dialog.

Unlike finding by captions or notes, finding by filename searches for the exact phrase you enter, including any spaces. It matches that text if it appears anywhere in the filename. For example, if you search for Bob, it will find “Bob and Mary,” “My brother Bob,” and “Bobbing for apples.” But if you search for Bob and Mary, it will find only the file named “Bob and Mary.”


You can also use finding by filename to find files of a particular type. Search for .jpg to find all JPEG files with this extension, for example (but note that some JPEG files may have extensions of “.jpeg,” so you may want to just search for .jp, which will find either). Search for .psd to find Photoshop files.

Finding by History

The Organizer automatically tracks information about what you have done with each photo. (You can view this information in the History pane of the Properties palette.) Finding using this information can be especially useful if you didn't tag the photos you're looking for.

Suppose, for example, that you regularly email your mother the best pictures of your kids. Now you want to make some prints of your best pictures of the kids, but you haven't tagged them as your favorites. You can instead search for photos you emailed to your mother.


This would be a good time to go ahead and tag those photos as Favorites for future use.

Conversely, you could find all photos you've printed if you're looking for good ones to share via email or to put in an album. To find photos by their history, choose Find > By History, and then select one of the choices in the submenu (Figure 4.37).

Figure 4.37. Find > By History enables you to find photos according to what you have done with them in the past.

Most of these options work similarly. Searching by import batch (Find > By History > Imported on), for example, brings up the “Select one or more groups you Imported” dialog, which displays a list of all the import batches, including the source of the import, the date, and the number of photos (Figure 4.38).

Figure 4.38. Click the desired import batch to select it, and then click OK to find all the photos from that batch. Click the column headers to change the sort order.

Initially the list is sorted by date, with the most recent batch first. You can change the order to oldest first by clicking the Date/Time heading, or sort by another category (such as “Imported from,” in this example) by clicking the header for that category. Click the “Imported from” header to sort photos by the camera from which you imported them.

To see the photos in a particular batch, just click the batch in the list of import batches and then click OK. You can use Shift-click and Ctrl-click to select multiple batches.

To find photos that you've emailed, choose Find > By History > E-mailed to. To sort by the recipient, click the “E-mailed to” column header (Figure 4.39). To find all the photos you've emailed to a particular recipient, click the first batch you sent to that person, Shift-click the last one, and click OK. (If the recipient is shown as “unknown,” that means you addressed the email in your email program instead of in Elements, so Elements has no way of knowing who they were sent to. You can still find them by date emailed, however.)

Figure 4.39. Finding photos by the person to whom you've emailed them can be especially handy if you can't search by tags.

To find photos you've printed, choose Find > By History > Printed on. In the dialog shown in Figure 4.40, you can sort photos by date printed or by printer used.

Figure 4.40. You can also find photos by the date you printed them and by the printer used.


To find all the photos you've ever printed, click any item in the list, press Ctrl-A, and click OK. You can use the same approach to find all the photos you've exported, used in creations, or shared. You can also select all the print batches in a certain date range to find, for example, all the photos you printed in a given year.

Finding by Media Type

There are two ways to find all the items of a particular type, such as photos, video clips, audio files, and creations:

  • You can control which types of items are shown in the Photo Browser by choosing View > Media Types (Figure 4.41). In the Items Shown dialog, the default setting is to show all types except audio files. This is a filter, which persists from one search to the next.

    Figure 4.41. Choose View > Media Types to control what types of items appear in the Photo Browser.

  • You can search for all the items of a single type by choosing Find > By Media Type and choosing the desired type from the submenu. You can view items of any type this way, even if you've disabled the display of the selected type in the View > Media Types options.

You probably will rarely need to use the first approach, unless you specifically want to disable display of video or creations in the Photo Browser.

Finding by media type is most useful when you're looking for video clips. If you do this often, remember the shortcut: Alt-2. Or if you want to see only photos, eliminating the clutter of video clips and creations, use Alt-1 as the shortcut for finding photos. These searches clear out any existing tag search, however.

Finding creations

The Organizer normally displays creations in the Photo Browser just as it does photos. They are dated according to when you made them, which may or may not put them in a spot in the Photo Browser where you can easily find them. To show only creations in the Photo Browser, use Find > By Media Type > Creations (or Alt-4). Or use Creation > Open to see a list of all creations by name. (See Chapter 8 for more on creations.)

You may find it helpful to change the dates of your creations to put them next to the relevant photos. Click the date above the creation, just as for a photo (assuming that you have Details turned on), and you'll be given the option to enter a specific date or to use the date of the first photo in the creation.

Working with audio files

You can have the Organizer display audio files in the Photo Browser, but in general there is no need to do this; audio files are supported in Elements primarily as background music for slide shows. Audio files must be imported into the catalog in order to be easily usable as background music, but generally there is little value in their being visible, as their thumbnail is only a generic audio icon and you choose background music from other dialogs. For these reasons, the default media-types filter is set to not display audio in the Photo Browser.

Viewing the audio files temporarily is useful, however, if you want to play them to decide which you want to use for background music. Choose Find > By Media Type > Audio, and the audio files will be displayed even if the media-types filter is set to not display them. To play an audio file, double-click the icon and then click the green play button in the player window.

If you always want to display audio files in the Photo Browser, choose View > Media Types and check the box for Audio.

Finding by Color Similarity

All the methods for finding photos depend on the information associated with the photo—such as its date, tags, or history—except one: color similarity. When finding by color similarity, you can find photos that look similar to another.


The name of this search is misleading. Color similarity searches take into account factors other than color as well, such as where in the image the colors are located and the general shapes of objects, using a complex algorithm whose results are sometimes nonintuitive.

One of the most straightforward ways to use the color-similarity search is to find multiple copies of a certain photo, perhaps at different resolutions or in different file formats, in your catalog. Searching on one of them will generally turn up all the copies at the top of the Photo Browser.

You may also find it useful to search by color similarity when looking for photos of a particular kind of scene, such as beaches, or boats on the ocean. Keep in mind, however, that color search doesn't understand a photo the way you do, or even as a two-year-old child does. It looks for similar colors and shapes, but it can't identify objects.

To initiate a color-similarity search, just drag one or more photos to the Find bar at the top of the Photo Browser (or select the photo and choose Find > By Color similarity). If you select more than one photo, Elements searches for photos that are similar to all the selected photos. You can search on a maximum of four photos. Including more than one photo in the search specification can sometimes help narrow the results.

The color-similarity search compares the shape and color in each photo and displays the results in order of similarity (Figure 4.42). When you've performed a color-similarity search, the arrangement of the Photo Browser changes to color-similarity order; that is, photos that rank highest in similarity are displayed first. You can't change the arrangement without clearing the search.

Figure 4.42. Drag one or more photos to the Find bar to find photos that are visually similar.

Note, in this example, that the top-ranked photos have similar colors in similar places, but they aren't necessarily of the same kind of object. If you scan through the first few dozen images, however, you can indeed find another photo of a snapdragon.

As this example illustrates, depending on the size and contents of your catalog and the photo(s) you are using as the search criteria, you'll probably find that only some of the best-match set photos are useful. You may also find that there are interesting matches further down in the set, after photos that don't seem like such good matches.

Color similarity can be quite effective for finding photos with a generally similar arrangement of colors and shapes. As Figure 4.43 shows, it does well at finding photos with sea and sky, but less well at finding only photos with sailboats.

Figure 4.43. Color similarity is effective for finding scenes like this one, with water in the foreground and sky in the background, but it is less effective at finding all the sailboats.

You can narrow the range of photos included in the color-similarity results either by time or by tags. To narrow it by time, see the section “Setting the Date Range,” earlier in this chapter. To restrict the color-similarity search to photos with certain tags, drag those tags to the Find bar or click the boxes next to them. You can do this before or after initiating the color-similarity search.

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