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Can I add more color labels in Lightroom?

Lightroom is a powerful photo editing and organizing software from Adobe. One of its most useful features for organization is the ability to assign colored labels to photos. By default, Lightroom provides five color labels – red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. However, some users may find that they need more color options to handle a large photo library. The good news is that it is possible to add custom color labels in Lightroom through a simple workaround. In this article, we’ll look at why you might want extra color labels, how to add them, and some tips for using custom colors effectively.

Why Add More Color Labels?

Here are some common reasons that photographers and photo editors may want to use more than the default five color label options in Lightroom:

1. Organize a Large Photo Collection

When you have thousands of photos in your Lightroom catalog, the five default colors may not provide enough differentiation to effectively sort and organize your images. For example, you may want separate colors for different clients, locations, themes, or other categorical divisions in your photo library. More color labels allow you to design a customized system tailored to your needs.

2. Highlight Specific Types of Images

You can use extra color labels to call attention to important subsets of images. For instance, you might designate a specific color just for your best photos or for any images that require editing or closer review. This makes them easy to filter and focus on.

3. Match Colors to a Brand or Project

Custom color labels let you match the colors associated with a specific client, brand, or project. For example, you could color code photos to match a company’s logo or brand colors.

How to Add Custom Color Labels in Lightroom

While Lightroom doesn’t provide an upfront setting to add more color labels, you can create custom color picks by editing Lightroom’s Identity Plate in Preferences:

Step 1

Go to Lightroom > Preferences > Interface

Step 2

Click the “Edit” button next to Identity Plate. This will open the Identity Plate Editor.

Step 3

Click the “+” icon at the bottom of the color label column on the right side to add a new color.

Step 4

Use the color picker tool to choose your custom color and click “Add” to save it.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to add as many extra color labels as needed.

Step 6

Click “Save” in the Identity Plate Editor to finalize your new color labels. The new colors will now show up as labeling options in your Lightroom Library.

Tips for Using Custom Color Labels

Here are some tips to use your new color labels effectively:

Pick Distinct Colors

Avoid colors that are too similar to the default five labels or each other. Having very distinct shades will make your system easier to use.

Be Consistent

Decide what each color will represent and stick with it. Being consistent in your labeling will make your system helpful rather than confusing.

Utilize Filtering

Take advantage of Lightroom’s filtering tools like color label, text, and attribute filters to quickly isolate photos based on your custom colors.

Focus on Utility

While it can be tempting to add lots of colors, try to focus on adding only the colors that serve a specific organizational purpose for your workflow. Limit colors to avoid confusion.

Name Your Colors

Use Lightroom’s color label set list to name your custom colors based on their designated purpose. This will help you remember what each one is for.

Example Uses of Custom Color Labels

To give you some visual ideas, here are two examples of how custom color labels could be used:

Organizing by Client

Red Client A Photos
Orange Client B Photos
Yellow Client C Photos
Green Client D Photos
Blue Client E Photos
Purple Client F Photos
Custom Red Client G Photos
Custom Orange Client H Photos
Custom Blue Client I Photos

Best Photos of 2022

Red Portraits
Orange Landscapes
Yellow Wildlife
Green Street Scenes
Blue Travel Locations
Purple Abstract
Custom Red Best Portraits
Custom Green Best Wildlife
Custom Blue Best Landscapes

As you can see, the options are really endless for implementing a customized color labeling system that fits your needs and workflow in Lightroom.

Other Labeling Options in Lightroom

In addition to color labels, Lightroom provides a few other labeling tools that can assist with photo organization:

Star Ratings

You can rate images from 1 to 5 stars based on criteria like quality and favorites. Starring photos provides another quick visualization and filtering method.


Flagging allows you to mark photos for special attention, like selecting picks or marking rejects. Flags let you focus in on smaller subsets.


Adding keyword tags to images allows you to categorize them and improve searchability. Keywords offer more specificity than color labels.


Collections allow you to manually group images together based on any common theme or purpose, like an event or project.

By combining color labels with these other organizational tools, you can develop a very powerful system for managing your photo library in Lightroom. Custom color labels fill an important gap by providing more visual grouping options.

Limitations of Custom Colors in Lightroom

While adding your own color labels can be very useful, there are some limitations to be aware of:

– **Labels Get Reset at Uninstall** – If you ever uninstall and reinstall Lightroom, your custom color labels will get erased. You’ll have to set them up again.

– **Labels Don’t Sync with Lightroom CC** – Your extra color labels will only work within your local copy of Lightroom Classic. They won’t transfer over if you sync photos to Lightroom CC.

– **Can’t Rename Default Colors** – You can only customize the additional colors. You can’t rename or edit the five default color labels in Lightroom.

– **No Hierarchical Customization** – There is no way to nest or tier custom color labels to show parent-child relationships. Each acts as a stand-alone label.

– **Max Limit of 15 Colors** – Lightroom currently only supports adding up to 15 total color label options including the defaults.

Even with these limitations, most users will find plenty of benefit in the ability to simply add more color coding choices into their workflow. But it helps to be aware of the restrictions.

Should You Upgrade to Lightroom Classic CC?

Lightroom is now available through two main desktop applications: the newer Lightroom CC and the original Lightroom Classic CC. A common question is whether upgrading to Classic CC provides any additional benefits in terms of custom color labels versus remaining on an older perpetual license version like Lightroom 6.

The answer is that there is essentially no difference in color label functionality between Classic CC and legacy Lightroom versions. The identity plate method for adding custom colors works the same way in all versions dating back to Lightroom 4. So you do not need to upgrade to Classic CC strictly to get more color label options.

However, Classic CC does provide a variety of new photo editing tools, enhanced performance, and integration with Adobe’s cloud ecosystem. Upgrading can make sense for many photographers based on these other benefits. But extra color labels themselves are not tied to any particular Lightroom version.


The ability to add custom color labels is a handy Lightroom power user trick that can expand your organizational options. By taking the time to set up a color coding system tuned for your specific needs, you can more easily tame a large image collection. And visual color organization tends to be faster and more intuitive than keyword tagging.

Hopefully this overview has provided some ideas and technical guidance on how to implement extra color labels in your own Lightroom workflow. Custom colors take a bit more effort to configure than simply using the defaults. But the benefits for managing large or complex photo catalogs can certainly be worth it!