You’ve probably realised on your journey as a photographer that editing plays a vital role in your image creation.
Do you feel as most photographers do that you spend more and more time editing your photos rather than taking them with your camera?
Today’s blog post is all about Lightroom shortcuts and how you can speed up your editing process.
Learning to utilise the shortcuts and effectively putting them into practice should mean you can spend less time in front of your computer and more time out and about with your camera.
Once you familiarise yourself with the shortcuts your editing workflow will become second nature.
Equally, you will find that you develop go to alterations that you make to your images, therefore, you don’t need to memorize every single shortcut.
Instead, you can pick out the ones which apply to you and your needs and the ones which will ultimately make you an editing speed machine.
Click to quickly jump/navigate to each section
Find The Right Shortcuts For You And Your Photography
There is a lot to Lightroom with its various modules so the shortcuts we’ll discuss today will only apply to the Library and Develop modules.
These will likely be the most used modules for editing photos no matter what your photography interests are.
One thing to note however is that one shortcut that applies in the develop module might do something completely different in the library module. Whereas most of the shortcuts that are applicable to the library module will do the same thing in the develop module.
The other modules in Lightroom are reserved for additional things you can do with your images after processing them.
Whether you want to make a photo album with Blurb, geotag your photos or create a slideshow this is something we will talk about in a future blog post.
As we’ve already said every photographer is different so you’ll find shortcuts that are useful for your editing requirements and some that aren’t. We believe your ultimate goal should be to simplify how you use Lightroom which will ultimately result in speeding up the editing process.
Editing is a big part of photography and something that we cover in-depth with our training course and photography certificate program. Our mentors are highly skilled so if you have any editing or photography related questions simply drop them an email and they’ll be happy to get back to you.
Below we have created a list of what we believe are some of the best shortcuts to use in Lightroom.
How To Quickly Navigate Between Modules
E – Single View Library Module
Pressing E on your keyboard will direct you to the library module and will display whichever image you are selected on as a single photo. This can be pressed in any of the modules to take you to your library of images.
Did you know it can be a lot quicker to scroll through images in the library module than the develop module?
G – Gridded View Library Module
If you press G this will take you to a grid view of all the images inside the folder you have selected in the ‘navigator’ tab. Doing this can be a great way to quickly compare images from a shoot and quickly pick out the ones you want.
You can use this shortcut in any of the modules and it will take you back to the library.
D – Develop Module
The develop module is where you will carry out most of your image editing. Instead of selecting it with your mouse simply press D on your keyboard to quickly navigate to it.
Cmd (Ctrl) – + / – View All Shortcuts In Lightroom
One really good shortcut to remember is to hit Cmd (Ctrl) – + / by doing this you will display all the shortcuts available for the module you are in. Make it a priority to remember this shortcut above all others.
It doesn’t, however, reveal the shortcuts which you can use with additional tools such as the crop tool.
That’s where our list is really useful because we also go into detail on the benefits of each Lightroom shortcut.
Useful Shortcuts To Use In The Library Module
F – Full Screen
Pressing the F key will take your selected image to full screen. Additionally, when you are in full-screen mode you can click your mouse to view your photo at 100%. This can also be achieved by pressing the space bar. You can then use your mouse to click and drag to study your image.
This is a great tool to check your images for sharpness or any focusing issues before you begin to edit them in the develop module. This is a shortcut that you can also use in the develop module.
L – Lights Out Mode
The lights out shortcut is a very useful feature to quickly isolate your image and view it on a dark background. One press of the L key will add a greyish overlay to everything surrounding your photo. Another press of the key will make that grey overlay completely black hence the name ‘lights out’.
J – Cycle Grid Views
As we’ve already mentioned the grid view is a really good way to see lots of images at the same time. However, by using the shortcut key J you can also view more information about your images at the same time.
Pressing this key will cycle through various information panels from showing you the photo number to detailed data such as image title, image size and file format. This can be useful to help identify the photos you want to prioritise for editing later on.
Tab – Show and Hide The Side Panels
The Tab key can be particularly useful if you are working on a smaller monitor such as a laptop. You don’t need access to the side panels all the time and this temporarily removes them. This can be great if you’re struggling for space and can help you see the photos in your library much better.
Determining which photos you want to edit and which are the best from your shoot is a really important part of the editing process. You will develop your own method of rating images and will get to know your own system and how it works for you.
Each photographer will rate their images in a different way as there are various methods to categorise your photos.
1 2 3 4 5 – Set Image Rating
Using any of these numbered keys will give your photo a star rating between 1 & 5. Later on, you can then choose to show only the images that match the star rating. For example, you can display all the images that you have marked with a 5-star rating.
You can also use the 0 key to reset the rating of the photo so that it doesn’t have any stars by it.
Flagging can be another great way to order and prioritise your photos.
P – Flag Image
This will make a little white flag appear next to your image. You can later sort your images by the ones you have flagged.
X – Reject Image
Pressing X will mark your image as a reject by putting a crossed flag next to it, you then know that you don’t want to take that image into the develop module.
U – Remove Flag
If you’ve accidentally flagged an image or changed your mind about a particular photo simply press U to remove the flag.
This works for both flagged and rejected images. You can also sort your images by unflagged if, for example, you want to remove them from the Lightroom folder or delete them altogether at a later date.
I – Cycle Info Overlay
This shortcut can be used in both the Library and Develop module to display information about the selected image. Press once to reveal the photo name, date & time taken as well as image size. If you press it twice you will get additional information about the camera settings and the lens which was used.
Reviewing your settings in this way can be really useful for improving your photography. It helps you gauge the things you are doing right as well as what you might be getting wrong.
The auto advance feature can be used in conjunction with any of the above methods for rating your photos.
By pressing Shift with any of the above shortcuts you will automatically advance to the next photograph in your folder. This is really handy as it saves you pressing the arrow keys or using the mouse.
There is an option to turn this feature on permanently by simply navigating to the Photo tab at the top of your Lightroom window and scrolling down and clicking Auto Advance. A quicker way to do this is to leave Caps Lock on. This can be particularly useful if you have a lot of photos to cull.
Space Bar – Zoom
Tapping the Space Bar will zoom your photo into 100%. You can then use your mouse to drag across the image to better view it in detail.
The zoom can be very useful in identifying how you want to rate your images as you can check for noise, focus and sharpness really easily.
Cmd (Ctrl) ]
Using this combination of keys will turn your image clockwise, you can turn the photo in the opposite direction by pressing Cmd (Ctrl) [. This can be useful if your photo hasn’t auto rotated or if you just want to play around with its composition.
The Best Shortcuts To Use In The Develop Module
. , & – +
The full stop and comma keys will allow you to cycle through all the options in the basic panel of Lightrooms develop module.
By pressing the plus and minus keys when you’ve landed on exposure for example you can adjust it accordingly in your photo.
R – Enter Crop Mode
This will enable you to enter the crop mode no matter which module you are in within Lightroom.
Ultimately pressing R will take you to the develop module where you will be able to crop your image. As we have talked about in a previous photo editing blog post cropping and straightening images is a simple thing that can drastically improve your photos.
O – Crop Overlays
Once you’re in the crop mode you can cycle through various crop overlays. You can use the rule of thirds and the golden ratio as well as others which can help you to get better compositions from your photos.
X – Rotate Crop
If you want to change your photo from a landscape to a portrait or vice versa then this can be a quick way to achieve it.
A – Lock or Unlock The Crops Aspect Ratio
It is generally best to keep this locked as it will keep your photos consistent.
However, there might be times when you perhaps want an unconventional crop. In this case, pressing A can unlock the aspect ratio allowing you to create any shape you want.
Cmd (Ctrl) – Straightening Tool
As we’ve talked about before getting straight photos is a really simple way to add a professional look to your photos. Once you’re in crop mode you can simply press and hold Cmb (Ctrl) which will quickly activate the straighten tool.
– Before and After
Using the backslash key will allow you to toggle a before and after of the image you’re editing.
Doing this is good practice in image editing as it allows you to see if you’ve gone too far with the editing process.
You’ll only be able to use this shortcut in the develop module as it will do something completely different in the library.
Y – Before and After Side By Side
Similar to the before and after shortcut but this one allows you to study both versions at the same time with a side by side setup.
V – Convert To Black and White
Viewing your images in black and white can be a good way to see the contrast in your photos and establish if they’re bright enough.
You can quickly change between black and white and colour with this handy shortcut.
Cmd (Ctrl) + Shift + C followed by Cmd (Ctrl) + Shift + V – Copy & Paste Develop Settings
Rather than editing every photo individually wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly apply the same settings to multiple images?
Providing you’ve shot with the same camera settings and in a similar environment, this shortcut can save you bags of time.
Once you have settled on a particular edit for one photo you can hit the copy shortcut. This will bring up a dialog box where you can choose the settings you want to copy to a new photo.
Be careful to uncheck boxes that you don’t want to be transferred to the new image. Things like crop and local adjustments will only apply to their location in the original image so unless they are identical compositions it can be best to uncheck these.
When you’re happy with the setting you’ve chosen to copy you can then paste them with the shortcut and your new unedited photo will now match. This can be really useful to achieve consistency across a shoot and saves you a lot of time along the way.
The image below shows the adjustments we typically have ticked and unticked. Sometimes we might select every setting but this is very rare.
K – Enter Adjustment Brush Mode
The adjustment brush is a tool that allows you to affect certain parts of your photo by simply painting over them.
You can brighten an area or darken it or adjust the sharpness and saturation. There is so much you can do with this tool to enhance your photo. Years ago you would have had to open Photoshop to achieve this type of editing but you can now complete 99% of it in Lightroom alone.
Once you’ve selected the adjustment brush mode by hitting the K key there are additional shortcuts to speed up your editing process.
O – Show/Hide Paint Overlay
This shortcut will enable you to quickly see the areas affected by your selected adjustment brush. It will demonstrate this to you with a red overlay and this can be useful for painting in a precise area of your photo.
Alt – Erase Paint Overlay
Holding down the Alt key allows you to erase any mistakes you might have made with the paint overlays.
] & [
These keys will enable you to change the size of your overlay brush whether you are painting or erasing. ] will increase the size whereas [ will decrease the size. This is a quick way to cover larger areas with your adjustment brush and can also be great for fine details of your photo.
You can also use these shortcuts to adjust your brush size in the spot removal tool which we will talk about next.
Q – Spot Removal
The spot removal isn’t just for removing spots in portrait photography. It can be a very useful tool which allows you to remove distractions from your images for cleaner compositions. This tool also saves you opening Photoshop and using the clone tool.
Photoshop can sometimes be necessary for the more complicated removal of an object but Lightroom will handle the easier tasks with no problem. There are a few additional shortcuts you can use with the spot removal tool much like there are with the adjustment brush.
H – Show or Hide Pins
Once you have the spot removal tool activated you can use the H key to either show or hide your pinned areas. The reason why this is a good shortcut is if you have multiple pins in one photo.
Sometimes they can be positioned close to each other and it can be difficult to identify the correct pin. Hiding them makes this much easier and will mean you can more accurately remove distractions from your photos.
/ – Select New Source
Sometimes the spot removal tool can get it wrong. For example, you might attempt to clone out a blemish on a white wall. All of a sudden it replaces that blemish with a completely different area of your photo making it worse than it was in the first place.
In this case, you can simply press / which will choose a different area for sampling. If all else fails just manually move the sampled area with your mouse.
Cmd (Ctrl) + ’ – Create Virtual Copy
Holding down your Cmd or Ctrl button and pressing the single quotation mark key will create a duplicate copy of your selected image. Virtual copies can be great if you want to try a different editing technique, push your edit further or have a black and white version of the same photo.
Putting Your Shortcuts Into Practice
Hopefully, you have learnt some useful ways to speed up your editing process in Lightroom.
We don’t expect you to memorise all these shortcuts but the ones you regularly use will become second nature after a while.
Like everything photography related it takes a little time but eventually if you practice long enough you won’t even have to think about it.
Most photographers want to spend less time editing and more time doing what they love, taking photos.
Whatever you can do to speed up the editing process will make this possible.