IMatch Keyword Panel

Free Controlled Vocabularies for IMatch

The IMatch Thesaurus is a very powerful tool for creating and managing controlled vocabularies  – not only for keywords!

What is a Controlled Vocabulary?

A controlled vocabulary (Wikipedia) is basically a list of hierarchical keywords and synonyms. Instead of manually entering keywords, you pick them from the thesaurus. This not only makes keywording (tagging) files much quicker, it also improves the quality and consistency.

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Importing Lightroom Keyword Lists

IMatch can fill the thesaurus from keywords already used in your files (see the IMatch help for details) and it can import thesaurus data in a variety of formats.

In this knowledge-base article I want to show you how you can easily import keyword lists in the popular Adobe Lightroom® text format.

To import a keyword text file designed for Lightroom, open the Thesaurus Manager in IMatch (toolbar button in either the Metadata or Keyword Panel). Click on the Import & Export toolbar button and select the Text format in the format selector box at the bottom.

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Now select the Lightroom keyword file you want to import and click on Open.

Groups and Synonyms

The IMatch thesaurus automatically detects groups and synonyms contained in the file and converts them to the corresponding IMatch Thesaurus objects. See the IMatch help system for more information about keyword groups and synonyms and how to use them in IMatch.


After a short while the Thesaurus Manager shows the results of the import. You can now review and edit the imported keywords as needed. Click OK to save the thesaurus to the database.

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IMatch Default Thesaurus

IMatch includes a default thesaurus with a set of universal hierarchical keywords. This thesaurus is automatically imported into new databases. If you have used IMatch 3 in the past, this keyword list was available as the Universal Catalog category set in that version.

If you already have created your database and you want to import the universal thesaurus, you can do this via the Import command in the Thesaurus Manager. The default thesaurus is named system-en.imths and contained in the C:\Program Data\\IMatch6\Presets folder.

Free Keyword Lists

In addition to creating your very own controlled vocabulary from scratch, you can start out by using one of the many free Lightroom keyword lists available on the web. Some examples:

Each of these lists has several thousand hierarchical keywords and should get you started just nicely. You can edit the keywords after importing them into IMatch to match your personal requirements and keywording habits. Maybe you export your modified thesaurus later to share it with others.

Commercial Controlled Vocabularies

A very good resource for both information about controlled vocabularies and high-quality commercial controlled vocabularies for many applications is the Controlled Vocabulary web site.

You might also want to check out Photo-Keywords (also has links to other paid and free keyword lists) or Keyword Catalog for additional paid lists of curated keywords.

Other Resources

There are many other lists out there as well. A good overview of commercial (paid) and free lists can be found here:

Find other interesting articles in the DAM Knowledge Base.

Use Visual Clues to Improve Your Workflow

Visual Clues

The digital asset management system IMatch offers a range of visual clues which allow you to improve your workflow. These visual clues are shown in the File Window, the Keyword Panel and also in other views and panels.

Using visual clues effectively can save you a lot of time. You can find files faster, notice problems quicker and even judge metadata quality and consistency at a glance.

Using Colors to Highlight Folders

If you work with a large number of folders, you can use color-coding to make certain folders easier to identify. For example, you may use a special color to indicate folders which have been backed up or archived. Or you use different folder colors for different kind of files or topics.

Using colors in the Media & Folders View as visual clues.
Use colors to highlight folders or to group related folders by using the same or similar colors.

Color-coding for Categories

Using color-coding for categories allows you to highlight certain categories or entire category hierarchies by making child categories inherit the colors from their parent category.

In addition to the Category View and the Category Panel, you can configure IMatch show category colors in  File Window panels. This makes it easy to display file states, the hierarchies a file belongs to and many other things right in the file window, with easy to see color codes.

Using category color-coding to add visual clues to the File Window.
Color-coded categories and how these colors are displayed in the File Window. Click for a larger view.

In the example above, we have colored the entire FAMILY category hierarchy with orange. Every file assigned to one or more FAMILY categories thus displays an orange-colored segment in the File Window. Files assigned to the Children category hierarchy additionally get a light blue color.

We use an Archival State category to indicate which files have been backed up or archived. Color-coding this category allows us to see right in the File Window if a file needs to be backup up or has already been archived.

Which categories and colors you use is entirely up to you. The file window can display 8 to 20 unique category color segments per file, depending on how large you display the thumbnails.

Color-coding Keywords

IMatch 5 automatically mirrors keywords contained in your files in the special @Keywords category hierarchy. This not only makes it easier to work with keywords, but also enables IMatch to implement some special features.

When you color-code @Keyword categories, IMatch can (optionally) display these colors in the File Window and in the Keyword Panel. Whether you color-code the standard 5 W’s (WHAT, WHERE, WHO, WHEN, WHY) keywords or you color-code keywords by topic or even scientific or genealogical criteria, displaying keywords in colors makes it  easier to tell if keywords are missing or duplicated.

And if you need to assign many keywords to files (e.g., for stock photo usage), using colors-coding makes it easier to keep things in check.

Quality Control

This feature can also be utilized for quality control. For example, you require at least one  Motive, Location and Food keyword per image for your food stock collection.

If you configure each of these category hierarchies to use a different color, you are able to see with once glance at the Keyword Panel if keywords are missing or duplicated.

Color-codes in the Keyword Panel can serve as additional visual clues.
Using different colors for different types of keywords makes it easy to see if keywords are missing.

Label Colors

IMatch displays the color of the XMP label assigned to a file in the Rating and Label bar inside the File Window:

Associating colors with XML labels makes them even more useful.
A file with a blue XMP label and a 3 star rating in the File Window.

You can configure the colors associated with each XML label under Edit > Preferences > Metadata. This is especially useful if you work with multiple applications which use individual XML label names or colors.

For a better overview, you can customize a File Window Layout to apply the XML label color to the entire thumbnail panel background. Especially if you combine this with a compact thumbnail arrangement you can quickly get an overview over which labels have been assigned to how many files:

Using XML label colors for thumbnail backgrounds creates excellent visual clues.
Using the XML label color to color-code thumbnail panels in the File Window. Click for a larger view.


IMatch offers a variety or color-based visual clues which allow you to improve your workflow, to find files faster and even to check metadata quality at a glance.