Lightroom Speed Tips – Fast, Fun, Easy

We were discussing some of our favorite Lightroom tips with some fellow photographers this weekend and we were reminded of our Tip ‘O The Week series we tucked away in the X=101 Category.

Rather than keep things as a bunch of mini-posts, and in the spirit of making things EASIER for everyone to access and reference in their workflow, we’ve dropped all our juicy tips into one single post below.

The key to these tips is to provide some high-impact, memorable, and quickly usable tips to get you moving faster … faster .. FASTER!

Become a Zoom Tool Ninja

This tip is an integral part of my workflow – especially when I am using these Adjustment Tools:


… to fine tune my images.

These tools, in conjunction with using the spacebar on the keyboard, give you access to 2 additional functions beyond the adjustment tool you are using.

I often want to stay in the tool mode I am in (ie. Spot Removal, Red Eye, Adjustment Brush, etc.) but still have access to my Zoom and Pan Controls.

With this tip I’ll make it ultra-easy to scoot around your images doing just that.

In this example workflow I start out in Fit zoom mode:


Next I’ll select whichever adjustment tool I need at that moment:


In this example I chose Spot Removal:


… and I didn’t really choose it, I used the shortcut key N to set me into this mode. Make it a habit to remember these time saving shortcuts.

If I can get some of my work done in Fit zoom I will do so, but when I need to get in closer, holding the spacebar will set me back into Zoom mode:


And allow me to zoom in 1:1.

… but what if that initial click doesn’t get me into the visible area I wanted?

The spacebar holds yet another magical power! Holding the spacebar will set me into Pan mode:


… which will allow me to pan around the image in 1:1 zoom mode.

Once you get comfortable with this technique, you shouldn’t need to look at the keyboard – which let’s you focus on what you do best … creating!

As we all know it’s about speed and accuracy, and this is one worth putting into your arsenal!

Give the Library Module the finger

This tip is as short as it gets …

2 keys and 1 finger are all that is required for adding some lightning to your workflow.

In Library mode, if you want to take a smaller set of thumbnails like this:


… and increase their size to something like this:


You simply press the + key

+ increase thumbnail size

decrease thumbnail size

Yet another reason to NOT have to look at your keyboard, while maintaining a productive workflow!

Access Shortcuts when you need them

This tip is quick … but ohhhhhhhh so handy!

When you don’t want to memorize or keep a list handy of all those fancy Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts, you can always bring up a list of shortcuts while in any Lightroom Module by selecting Command+/ (mac) or Ctrl+/ (pc).

… and you’ll be presented with a nice on-screen cheat sheet:


Stitch together shortcuts like a pro

When we first start a job, there are some top-level adjustments we perform often. We don’t always commit these changes but they’re always a first line of attack with a new job. It’s worth remembering these shortcut as well as the order they are utilized:

  • Auto White Balance – command + shift + u (mac) ctrl + shift + u (pc)
  • Auto Tone – command + u (mac) ctrl + u (pc)
  • Convert to Grayscale – v (mac or pc)

If we like what we see from any of these adjustments, or other adjustments we’ve done (exposure, crop, etc.), we’ll use these shortcuts, or the Previous button as we move on to the next image.

  • Copy RAW Adjustments – command + shift + c (mac) ctrl + shift + c (pc)
  • Paste RAW Adjustments – command + shift + v (mac) ctrl + shift + v (pc)

For a quick draft slideshow of our work:

  • Quick Slideshow – command + return (mac) ctrl + return (pc)

Continually going to the mouse to perform adjustments starts to take its toll on your flow and your focus. We’ve found we don’t even have to look at the keyboard to perform these shortcuts once you start to use them often.

Stack ’em up!

Stacks are pretty cool … I use them quite a bit while I shuffle around images in Library mode.

There’s a very nice shortcut for creating and collapsing stacks that I’m totally digging lately … it’s ultra-simple:

  1. Select the images you would like to stack (selections can be in or out of sequence)
  2. Press Command+g (mac) or Ctrl+g (pc)

… to collapse the stack:

  1. Select the first image in the stack
  2. Press Command+shift+g (mac) or Ctrl+shift+g (pc)

{here’s the kicker: does not work on virtual copies, but if you commit those virtual copies, you’re back in business}

Never miss a single pixel

This weeks tip has been around since version 1.0 of Lightroom, and although I personally do not use it that often, it’s a great image inspection technique.

Normally, I’m pushing images to 72ppi for proofing on the web, which will often downsample out any irritable noise, dust, or imperfections.

But when I am pushing to a high resolution print – they have to be perfectly clean! But … I’m lazy, and I wanted an easy way to inspect my images close up without the usual zoom-pan-zoom-pan tedium.

This lead me to a lesser known technique I will call the ‘PageDowner’ technique. Call it what you will, it’s a complete time saver.

In the Develop Module set your Navigator zoom ratio to 1:1. Next, press the PageDown key (mac users fn+down arrow). You will notice that the navigator not only honors your zoom ratio as it scrolls vertically down your image, it automatically sets itself back to the top of the image – precisely to the right of your previous vertical scroll path – booyah!

This gives me complete assurance I have scoured every single area of the image, while allowing me to maintain a tight zoom, and my focus on dust busting.

Here’s to obsessive image inspection!

Export with the best of ’em

This one is a real no-brainer but one that often gets overlooked.

Whenever you have to bounce out to Photoshop, or export a selection of images to JPG, TIFF, etc. …

don’t right click, don’t drag your mouse like a lazy old man up to the menu bar … remember and BURN these shortcuts into your brain:

Export Images

Mac: Command+ Shift + e

PC: Ctrl + Shift + e

Edit in Photoshop

Mac: Command + e

PC: Ctrl + e

Don’t fear the rejection!

This is an old standby in our arsenal of keyboard shortcuts …something we call +PICK, PICK, REJECT

As you may recall, when you hold down Shift (mac or pc) while selecting P or X Lightroom will automatically move to the next image in the filmstrip.

This time, it gets even better …

  • turn on CAPS lock
  • select either P or X – or ANY filter key (star, color, etc.)
  • Lightroom will set your filter selection, AND automatically move to the next image in the filmstrip – no need to hold down shift!

An oldie but goodie

I’m a huge fan of using the {Alt} key (mac or PC) to quickly access additional – hidden Quick Develop functions I use often.

During my first pass on a large job in the Library module, I not only rate images and select rejects, I also use the Tone Control sliders in the Quick Develop panel to adjust exposure. With a quick flick of the {Alt} key I can also slap the Saturation around and if necessary, Sharpen up any obvious soft images.

It’s a quick way to reach controls normally relegated to the Develop module.

What’s YOUR favorite?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips – just some of our favorites from the past 2 years.

What did we miss?

Sound off in the comments below and we’ll include yours in our next installment of Speed Tips.