Spreadsheet plugin for Lightroom

In 2011, I developed a spreadsheet plugin for Lightroom 3 on a Windows 7 box. Below follow instructions to install it on Lightroom 5.5 on Windows 10 (I tested and revised the setup description in August 2015). I have not tested it on Apple.

When I did a make-over of this website in November 2013, I looked at the statistics and found to my surprise this plugin was rated as the top thing people searched for to land at my site. Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this plugin. I rewrote this page to explain it all better, and I hope you also find it useful.

You can download the plugin here.

Although Lightroom allows many types of meta data, a spreadsheet is convenient for the following aspects:

  • Most meta data fields are suited only to very specific pre-determined purposes like keywords, titles, gps, and so on. When you need to enter repeating data such as sales records or competition results, you may try smart collections, or the rating stars, but these soon become limited. For repeating data, a spreadsheet is purposely made, and its rows and columns can be tuned to your own needs.
  • Spreadsheets also work well for data you do not want to accidentally export as meta data to clients, like sales figures. The spreadsheet is separate from normal meta data and its contents will not be included in exported photos. It is thus safe for any information you wish to keep private.

The Plugin keeps a spreadsheet with the same name as the photo as a side-car file (much like the xmp sidecar files).  As long as you backup the whole folder with all your images, the spreadsheets should go with them.

How to install the plugin

Download the plugin from the link I gave above. Choose the option to save the file on your computer. After downloading, copy the zip file to some folder where you possibly keep other Lightroom plugins as well.

LigtroomPluginSaveAs

Unzip the plugin. This will create a new folder named “Spreadsheet.lrplugin”.

LightroomPluginUnzip

Now open Lightroom. Select the Plugin Manager:

LightroomPluginMenu

Click on Add in the Plugin Manager:

LightroomPluginMgrAdd

Then browse to the folder where you unzipped this plugin and choose Spreadsheet.lrplugin.

LightroomPluginBrowse

You should see the following configuration screen in the Lightroom Plugin Manager, which you can tweak according to your needs.

The example below sets the path to Microsoft Excel.

Plugin2

Here is an example where I changed the path to use Open Office Calc as spreadsheet. It should work with Libre Office as well.

LightroomPluginConfig

* Spreadsheet Commandline –  the full path to Excel, Open Office, Libre Office, or other spreadsheet you use.

* Template Spreadsheet file – When you open Excel for a particular photo, the plugin makes a copy of the template spreadsheet in the same folder where the photo is, and the spreadsheet is given the same name as the photo. E.g if your photo is DSC4567.NEF, the spreadsheet will be named DSC4567.XLS. You can also fool the plugin and provide something else than a spreadsheet, for example, use Notepad as the commandline in stead of Excel; and point to a text file as the template.

* Set photo label – you can optionally set the photo label color so you can see in Lightroom which photos have spreadsheets. The text you type in there is the text that is set with the colour labels, by default their colour names, e.g. I use “Green” or “Blue”.

* Captions – The plugin creates four extra metadata fields which can be searched in Lightroom. You can edit these from within Lightroom. Because the whole spreadsheet is external to Lightroom’s meta data, they can not be searched by Lightroom, and you may perhaps want to create smart collections based on some content of the spreadsheet. The four extra fields allow searching and organising in smart collections

When you restart Lightroom, it will recalculate your catalog to add the extra metadata fields. Every time you change the field names, Lightroom will recalculate again, so try to set it up once and stick to the names.

Capture

Issues

If the photo path contains spaces, the plugin will have issues to open the spreadsheet. Till resolved, I make sure that all my photos are stored only in directory names that do not contain spaces.

I created and used it in LR 3, then in my LR 5.0 it did not install, but it works fine in my LR 5.5 on Windows 10.

How to use it

In Lightroom go to the Library Mode. Select a photo in Lightroom, then, on the Lightroom menu, select “Library”, “Plugin Extras”, and “Spreadsheet”.
LightroomPluinUsing

If this is the first time you select, then the plugin will copy the spreadsheet to your image folder, and give it the same name as the photo, except that the spreadsheet has an “xls” extension – like a sidecar file. Thereafter the plugin will open the spreadsheet in Excel or Open Office (you can configure the application).

If the spreadsheet already exists, the plugin will simply open the spreadsheet with your previous changes.