Lightroom 4.0 is Out!
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.

Central Japan
and my photos over the last 11 months
as seen in Adobe Lightroom 4.0's new Map Module

Greater Kyoto

After a two-month public beta, Adobe has just released Lightroom 4.0.

It's not a free upgrade, but with the price now cut in half (upgrades are now $80), it's an easy decision.*  There's a lot new if you're coming from Lr3, the most important likely being the new rendering engine. Laura Shoe has a post and video about what's new here, and Victoria Bampton's always exhaustive “what's new” list is here.

* At just $80 for the upgrade, even from Lr1, it's an easy decision, but Adobe usually comps me a free copy, which is very nice, so if that holds true again, I won't even have to make that simple decision. 🙂

Lr4 and My Plugins

The biggest change for all my Lightroom plugins is mostly under the hood, so you'll need new versions. Visit the plugin manager and “check for updates”. It's probably best to do this Lr3 before upgrading because the old versions might not even load in Lr4. (If you need to upgrade after, you can always do a manual upgrade by downloading the latest version of the plugin from the plugin's home page, unzipping, and replacing the old copy with the new.)

One big thing you'll notice is that plugins that had been registered in Lr2 or Lr3 are now no longer registered, an unfortunate side effect of how I designed my plugin registration system some years ago. If you want them to be registered, you'll have to register them again sometime in the next six weeks or so, though as before, you can do so with just 1 cent. Sorry for the hassles.

My Geoencoding Plugin

If you've been using my Geoencoding plugin, you'll be excited about the new Map Module in Lr4. The first time you bring up Lr4 with a recent version of the plugin, all the plugin's location data (its “shadow data”) is migrated over to Lr4's native data.

Personally, I've found that the Map Module is great for manual geoencoding, for browsing, and for searching, but I still prefer my plugin to geoencode from a tracklog. I find Lr's tracklog geoencoding difficult to understand, and it bothers me that it doesn't handle altitude. My plugin does.

The plugin also includes a bunch of stuff that'll be useful regardless of how photos get encoded, such as the ability to view mapped locations in a variety of online mapping services, or in Google Earth.

Upgrade Process: Have Patience

Especially if you have a large corpus of geoencoded photos, the first thing you'll want to is jump into the map module to play, and in this you will be greatly disappointed because Lightroom apparently has to do a lot of processing under the hood before it's ready.

When I upgraded my main catalog on my desktop machine (92,000 photos dating until last April when I switched to my laptop), I switched to the Map Module and got a spinning beach-ball for five solid minutes. Switching back to Library again beach-balled for a few minutes. But the biggest shock was checking the geoencoded photos: there should have been 50,000 or so, but Lightroom told me there were only 28,000:

My Photo World
sort of
I can now see at a glance that I geoencoded 14 photos incorrectly

Apparently, Lightroom needs to do something with each image under the hood before the transition from old plugin data to native Lightroom support takes effect in the Map Module and in the Library Grid Filter, and it's very slow. We're talking hours to handle the 22,000 photos that had been geoencoded with my plugin. It's not fun to wait, but even worse, Lightroom gives you no indication that it's still working and that the data it shows you is incomplete.

So, it's probably best at some point to open the Library Grid to “All Photographs”, select “GPS Data” in the metadata filter, and walk away to let Lightroom grind for a while.

Color Label Set

One more warning: if you use a custom Color Label Set (“Metadata > Color Label Set” is anything other than “Lightroom Default”), you may be very surprised to find that after the upgrade to Lr4 it has been reset to “Lightroom Default”. This can be a fairly major problem because when you assign color labels, you're actually assigning the label and not the color, and if the label set has been changed out from under you, you'll unknowingly be applying the wrong label.

So, be sure to check your color label set.

Plugin Support for Lightroom 2

Most of my plugins still work in Lightroom 2, but with the aggressive price lowering in Lr4, I expect most people who are still running Lr2 to move over, so going forward, I don't expect to put much more energy to continue to support Lr2 in my plugins.

All 15 comments so far, oldest first...

Will metadata wrangler be updated for LR4 soon? 🙂

Yikes, sorry, I built it but apparently didn’t release it, sorry. It’s there now. —Jeffrey

— comment by Collin on March 6th, 2012 at 4:16pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Dear Jeffery-
Great post and great catch. I never noticed the color label set trouble while working with the Beta! Thanks for the heads-up and for all your hard work getting the plugins ready for the new version. We all appreciate it.

David Marx

— comment by David Marx on March 6th, 2012 at 6:11pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the post again. if I’m using your geoencoding plugin and want to upgrade, can LR4 recognize the ‘shadow data’ and migrate smoothly?

Yes, that’s what I wrote about in this post. —Jeffrey

— comment by nodust on March 6th, 2012 at 9:05pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

The link to Laura Shoe’s video and blog post is broken (“href://” as protocol instead of “http://”).

Doh! Thanks, fixed. —Jeffrey

— comment by TK on March 7th, 2012 at 4:40am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I’ve been using LR3 for a while now after learning about it here on your blog. By any chance, does the new LR4 have a magic wand tool? I’m completely baffled as to why they wouldn’t have such a vital tool. Maybe I’m missing it. Some LR features are so intuitive and some of them are so completely random… ahh, I guess I’ve been using a PC too long.

A magic-wand tool would indeed be welcome, but it’s really a fringe item for a normal photographer’s workflow. I use it all the time in Photoshop when cleaning up screenshots for blog posts, but I can’t think of a time in the last few years where I’ve used it in the normal course of photo processing. Lightroom is not intended to replace Photoshop… Photoshop is the tool to edit a picture, but Lightroom is the tool to handle your photographic workflow. For most photographers, there’s little overlap. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on March 7th, 2012 at 4:44am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I’d like to take a second to say thanks to for all your continued hard work on the lightroom plug-in front. Not only do you have the best set of lightroom plug-in’s I have ever seen, but you work tirelessly (I am assuming that ) to keep them updated, bug free AND give them away for donations. As well as respond to any email’s regarding lightroom plug-ins, photography and, well, everything else us crazy people ask! Thanks Jeff, Thanks a lot.

I am pretty sure you don’t need too, monetarily speaking (assuming again), but if you ever decide to host a workshop in Japan, I am sure it will sell out immediately. I for one would love the opportunity to view Japan (and a little expert photography guidance can never hurt). Your website is amazing and your pictures, superb.

(also posting this on G+)

Thanks for your kind words, but let me assure you that my work is not tireless… it’s very tiring! 🙂 As far as workshops, I’m not sure whether you refer to Lightroom or photography, but I have sufficient skill for neither. I could lead a photo tour of Kyoto… that’s up my alley. Martin Bailey does Hokkaido snow tours, and private stuff in Tokyo…. he’d be a better candidate for a Japan workshop on Lightroom or photography… —Jeffrey

— comment by Wesley on March 7th, 2012 at 5:31am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Cool to use all your plugins with my new LR4 !!
Small question, it’s possible to get geotagging for my picture on Flickr to my LR ?

Soon. Want to let things settle a bit before I start getting into that. —Jeffrey

— comment by Lucas Janin on March 7th, 2012 at 6:30am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks’s for the great job, I think too that I will keep using your geoencoding plugin.
Do you think it is possible to have the photo direction available in your plugin (I have a camera that adds this info in the exif header, the direction is relative to the magnetic north – and I use geosetter to set the direction relative to the geographic north on the other photos)

It’s not likely to be incorporated soon because Lightroom handles only certain fields, and that’s not included, and it’s not easy for a plugin to figure it out on its own. —Jeffrey

— comment by Eric Bayard on March 7th, 2012 at 9:45pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink


First thanks for the greast work. I’ve upgraded to LR4 ans at my first import from a tracklog it took very long. (1400 photo’s 15 min+.) does it take longer or is something going wrong?

Gr Toy Janssen

Had you let the catalog “settle” for a few hours as I describe in the post? It can be very slow until that’s done. —Jeffrey

— comment by Toy Janssen on March 9th, 2012 at 4:45am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

With geoencoding now built in you’d think I’d be a happy camper. But no… because it’s still faster for me to encode static photos with no corresponding tracklog in LR3 using your plugin, Google Earth and the Alt+F S R shortcut to grab coordinates from GE. I have GE open anyway for viewing the tracklogs.

In the beta, accessing your Geoencode dialog changed into Alt+F X, right arrow (because both “Plug-In Extras” and “Exit” now had the X as their shortcut so it didn’t auto-open the submenu) G, (because I have another plugin that uses “G”). Now with the release they’ve changed the Plug-In Extras submenu to use “U”! So the simple, FAST, one handed keyboard shortcut from the last version has turned into the two-handed “Alt +F, U (maybe they’re trying to tell me something with those last two), right arrow, G, Enter. Another odd choice since the second U in the file menu is Clear Quick Collection… which already has a predefined shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+B. ARGGG!

My kingdom for a keyboard shortcut reassignment plugin 😉

Thanks for having a place to rant but more importantly, the work on the plugins. I’ve re-registered all and happily re-donated to the ones I use the most.

I’m sure there are keyboard-shortcut apps for iOS and Android that you configure so that pressing on-screen buttons initiate menu actions in Lightroom. I’ve used KeyPad+ with my iPad, though not with Lightroom. —Jeffrey

— comment by JasonP on March 10th, 2012 at 1:44pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Great work Jeffrey, really apreciate it!

I have a question for ya, currently when i update or upload images to flickr from within lightroom it may not update the GPS coordinates. Is this something i’m doing wrong from my end or is this something inherent in lightrooms design and fixable with your plugin?

For complex reasons related to Lightroom’s plugin infrastructure, the plugin won’t upload new files unless a develop change has actually taken place. If you tweak the brightness or whatnot an imperceptible (but non-zero) amount and publish it, everything should update. I’m trying to come up with a way around this, but no luck yet. BTW, you can push metadata-only changes via the “File > Plugin Extras > Flickr Extras” dialog. —Jeffrey

— comment by deo on March 19th, 2012 at 9:02pm JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Very impressed with the smooth transfer of shadow data into LR4’s format. Thank you!

— comment by Nelson on March 21st, 2012 at 7:03am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink


New to LR (and digital photography) so started exploring best options to geocode my photos. I used LR4.3’s Map tool (imported gps coordinates from Garmin GPS) and tagged pictures from my Canon. I had a few questions about both of your plug-ins (geoencoding as well as export to picassa).

1. Do both your plug-in and LR4 add the GPS data directly to the .cr2 files downloaded from the Canon? I think LR4 saves metadata in a “sidecar” file. Does it really matter how it’s saved or is it better to have the GPS data embedded directly in the same file as the photo? If the latter, does your plug-in do that?

2. If there are differences beween LR4.3 and the plug-in, can you pls better describe the differences between the capabilities of LR4.3 geotagging vs. the geoencodin plug-in?

3. With the Export to Picass plug-in, will it save the GPS metadata if I choose to upload pictures in .cr2 format or would have to upload in jpeg format?

Thanks in advance for your guidance before I download one or both of the plug-ins.

Neither update the raw CR2 file… people generally like their raw image files left untouched. (If tagged directly by the camera, the data will obviously originate in the raw file, of course.) Once a location is added via any method, Lightroom will put it into the sidecar XMP file if you so ask. Lightroom’s map module is great for geoencoding via drag-n-drop, but their tracklog implementation is broken; mine is not. You can’t send anything but jpeg to Picasa. My plugin is free… just give it a try. —Jeffrey

— comment by Paco on February 4th, 2013 at 8:02am JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I’m playing with LR5 Beta and have gotten the message that my version of Geoencoding Support doesn’t work in LR5. It asks me to upgrade my copy of the plugin; however I don’t see anything LR5 specific on your site.

Will you advise, please?


Updates for Lr5 were behind-the-scenes parts of other upgrades along the way, so there was no need to push a specific Lr5 update. The latest version should work on Lr5. —Jeffrey

— comment by Mark Friedman on April 26th, 2013 at 7:15am JST (11 years ago) comment permalink

FYI, I used LR 5’s mapping module to geotag some pictures, and it seems to handle altitude as well (GPS Altitude: ). With the correct offset set, it did a reasonable job at geotagging, so (without using your plugin, because I don’t want it to upgrade my catalog since I don’t need shadow data), I wonder if it’s still worth using an additional plugin for this or just go with LR’s builtin one…

I use my plugin still for geoencoding via tracklog (because Lightroom’s tracklog stuff is simply stupid), and for reverse geoencoding, and for lots of little extra things like the various “View location in…”. YMMV. —Jeffrey

— comment by Iustin Pop on July 13th, 2013 at 4:57pm JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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