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Auto Focus: My Top 10 keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom


By Chris Malinao

We’ll cut to the chase and tell you right away that there’s a keyboard shortcut for all keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom, and that is Control + Forward Slash (CTRL+/) for the PC, and Command + Forward Slash (CMD+/) for the Mac. Do that in each module of Lightroom and it will show you all keyboard shortcuts for that particular module.

Now, there’s a multitude of them, more than 300 keyboard shortcuts now, and it will be difficult to remember all of them, especially if you don’t use them. You don’t have to memorize all of them. You just put to heart the keyboard shortcuts you will use most often because keyboard shortcuts make our work easier and faster in Lightroom. Knowing the right keys to hit just speeds up our workflow in Lightroom.

Control + Forward Slash (CTRL+/, or CMD+/ for Mac) brings up the list of keyboard shortcuts for a module in Lightroom. There’s just too many of them! Memorize only 5 or 10 that will speed up your workflow.

Control + Forward Slash (CTRL+/, or CMD+/ for Mac) brings up the list of keyboard shortcuts for a module in Lightroom. There’s just too many of them! Memorize only 5 or 10 that will speed up your workflow.

Here are my top 10 favorites:

  1. G for Grid View – arranges your photos in a neat grid of thumbnails so you can view many photos all at once. Grid view simulates photos, slides, and negatives scattered on a light table, the way a photographer looked at his photos during film days.
  2. E for Loupe View – when you want to examine one specific photo. It harks back to the days when the photographer would use a loupe or magnifying glass to examine a photo for sharpness, noise, or whatever. Zoom in, or zoom out to look at a photo.
  3. F for Full Screen View – to eliminate the distraction of the workspace, you sometimes want full screen view to examine a photo. Hit F and you see only your photo in all its glory. You can still zoom in and zoom out in this view. Hit F again to go back to the previous view.
  4. Tab and Shift+Tab – I show this in my Lightroom classes to make students aware that the Lightroom interface is flexible, you can customize it. Tab eliminates the left and right panels, Shift+Tab eliminates the panels above and below in addition to the left and right panels. Pressing the keys again brings back the panels.
  5. T for Toolbar – to show and hide the toolbar. Most of the time, you want to have the picture table in the workspace as big as it can be, but the toolbar below it gets in the way. Hit T to make it go away. Or you want to use the toolbar but you don’t see it, press T.
  6. Backslash (/) – for Before and After views in the Develop module. In Library, it toggles the Library Filter to refine your search for photos.
  7. X to rotate crop orientation – the first time you enter Crop mode, it follows the orientation of your picture. If you want to switch from landscape orientation to portrait crop, hit X.
  8. O for the composition guides – in Crop mode, you will see faint lines superimposed on your image. These are composition guides. Repeatedly press the letter O to cycle through the various guides. For the asymmetrical spiral and diagonal lines, hit Shift+O to change their orientation.
  9. Q and / – the letter Q gives you the Spot Removal Tool to remove blemishes from your picture. You brush a spot on your image and when you let go, the tool automatically selects a source spot to heal your target spot and it usually does it right. If you think it’s wrong, hit the forward slash key (/) to change the source spot. Hit it again to change the spot once more. Or you can just click-drag to your preferred source spot if you want to take over.
  10. Alt Key – The Alt key (or Option, Opt key in the Mac) is amodifier key that can be used in conjunction with a standard tool to alter its behavior. For example, if you have over-brushed while using the Adjustment Brush, pressing Alt will change the brush to Erase Mode, and you can brush in areas that should not have been brushed. If you used sharpening in the Detail panel, move the Masking slider while pressing down on the Alt key (and your image turns to black and white) to show the white areas where you want sharpening applied. In the black areas, no sharpening will be applied.

Those are my top 10 keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom, and they make sense in my workflow. What’s yours? Don’t load up on too many keyboard shortcuts, they will just confuse you. Stick with the ones you really need and often use, it just makes life simpler and easier. And remember, if you want to look up a keyboard shortcut, there’s always Control + Forward Slash (CTRL+/ or CMD+/ for Mac) that you can fall back on.

Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation), a nonprofit organization that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom.

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