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A good way to quickly put your finger on your best photos and avoid your worst is to assign star ratings to photos in the Organizer. The most convenient place to add star ratings to your photos is often here in the Media Browser. But you can also do this in Full Screen view and in the Properties panel, which I covered earlier. To start, check that there are some gray deactivated stars under each photo thumbnail in the Media Browser. If you don't see these, go up to the View menu and enable Details. I can mark a photo with a particular number of stars by just clicking on that number of stars underneath the photo.
I can mark a photo with 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars, but I often find that five star levels is too many categories to be meaningful. Sometimes there just isn't that much difference between a photo I might mark as a two, a three, or a four. So my personal strategy is to use just two star ratings. I give five stars to my favorite photos and I give one star to my least favorites, those I'm going to reject, like this one and maybe this one. The middling photos in between get no stars in my system.
I try to rate my photos right after importing them to the Organizer, so I'm usually rating a lot of photos at once. To save time, I can apply the same star rating to multiple photos at once, like this. On my first pass through the photos, I'll select those that I initially think should get five stars. So I'll click on one of those photos and if I want to select some nonadjacent photos, I'll hold the Ctrl key--that's the Command key on the Mac--as I click on some others. And then I'll give a five-star rating to just one of those by clicking on the stars under this photo and that automatically applies five stars to these other selected photos as well.
Later, I go through my photos again, often in Single Photo view, for a closer look. I can access my star ratings there too. To get into Single Photo view, I can select a photo and then click the Single Photo View icon up here. A quicker way to do the same thing is just to double-click on one of my photos and that brings it into Single Photo view, with the star ratings visible at the bottom left of the photo. Now that I can see this photo closer, I may decide it's not really a five-star photo. I can change the number of stars assigned to this photo by clicking a different number of stars at the bottom-left of the photo. Or if I want to remove the stars altogether, because I want to mark this as a middling photo in my system of star ratings, then I'll click on the first star and I'll click on the first star again to clear all the stars.
Now let's talk about how to use star ratings. The purpose of applying stars is to make it easier to find favorites or non-favorites later on, and that's done by filtering photos using the stars at the top of the Media Browser and the Sort menu next to it. For example, if I want to quickly see my best photos in the selected folder in Folder Location view or in my entire catalog if I were in Thumbnail view, then I would click the fifth star here at the top of the Media Browser. This Sort menu is set to "and higher" by default.
If I change this menu to "and lower," I see all of the photos to which I've applied any number of stars: five stars, four stars, three stars, or one star. If I want to see all the photos with a particular number of stars, say all the photos I've marked with one star as rejects, then I'll change this menu to only and I'll select the number of stars I'm interested, in this case one-star photos. Now I have an opportunity to change my mind about which photos I'm going reject. I think I'm going to keep this photo, so I'll remove the single star to put it in my category of middling photos.
Now if I want to see all my photos in the Media Browser again, I'll go up to the Show All button in the bar at the top of the Media Browser and click that. I suggest that you try to get in the habit of star rating your photos after every shoot. It's a simple way to quickly zero in on your favorite photos or to review those that don't make that initial cut. And if you've rated your photos with stars, you can put those star ratings to use later as filters for Smart Albums or for the Organizer's Find features, both of which we'll cover shortly.
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