Lightroom for editing RAW images

5 Time-Saving Lightroom Shortcuts You Won’t Want to Forget

Time is one of our most precious resources. As a photographer, you can spend as much time behind the computer as you do behind the camera. On any given day most of us would rather be out with our camera than facing a computer screen. Don’t get me wrong, photo editing is an important part of the process and often where the magic happens. But finding ways to streamline your workflow will not only make your photo editing easier, but will give you more time for going out and shooting.

One of the simplest and most important ways to speed up your photo editing is by using shortcuts. Lightroom has hundreds of shortcuts, and it would be nearly impossible to memorize them all. But by learning a key few, you will be able to save hours over the course of your lifetime. Here is a list of 5 easy shortcuts that will save you time and make your photo editing easier. For a more complete list of Lightroom shortcuts, download our printable shortcut sheet for the Mac or for Windows. Just print it off and use it as a handy reference the next time you are editing your photos!

  1. Caps Lock Auto Advance
  2. Auto Advance
    Whether you use stars, flags, or colors, rating your photos is an important step in Lightroom workflow. Going through and rating every photo accounts for a significant amount of time. You can cut down on some of that time by using the Caps Lock Auto Advance. Within the Library Module, turn on the Caps Lock key (or go to Photo -> Auto Advance). After rating a photo, rather than using the arrow key to advance to the next photo, Lightroom will automatically do it for you. This trick works for stars, flags, and color labels. If you aren’t already, you can use the numeral keys for rating photos (1-5 for stars, 6-9 for colors, P and X for flags). When combined, this makes for a powerful and efficient system that will save you a lot of time in the long run. Once you have the method down, you will be able to go through a batch of photos in the blink of an eye!

  3. Copy/Paste Settings
  4. There are many situations in which you will have a group of similar photos that may all require the same basic settings. Rather than editing each photo individually, you can save time by editing one photo and applying those same develop settings to the remaining photos. Let’s say I am editing a photo I took of a flower, and I have adjusted the Contrast, Clarity, and Vibrance. If I have 5 other similar photos of that flower, rather than adjusting the Contrast, Clarity, and Vibrance on each photo separately, I can copy the develop settings on the first photo and paste onto the remaining 5. To do this, simply select the photo you have edited and use the shortcut Shift + Cmd + C (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl + C (Windows). A window will come up asking you which settings you would like copied. In most cases you will leave it as is and click Copy. Next, select the photo you would like the settings applied to, and use the shortcut Shift + Cmd + V (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl + V (Windows). You can paste the settings as many times as you need. Don’t like the results of the settings you just applied? To reset the adjustments just use Shift + Cmd + R (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl + R (Windows)
    Copy Settings
    If you find yourself adjusting the same settings over and over, consider creating a Preset. A Preset is similar to using the Copy/Paste Settings described above, but allows you to save the settings to be used at a later date. For example, if you find that you generally use the same settings every time you create a black and white photo, you can create a preset using those settings. The next time you want to create a black and white photo, simply click on your preset and all of your saved adjustments are instantly applied. From there you can tweak the settings as much as you’d like. To create a preset, click the + button in the Presets panel, or use the shortcut Cmd + Shift + B (Mac) or Ctrl + Shift + B (Windows). You can access your saved preset within the User Presets folder of the Presets panel.

  5. Solo Mode
  6. When working in Lightroom, one of the most cumbersome and time-consuming tasks is collapsing and expanding the many various side panels. Lightroom is known for its efficiency, but even for an experienced user, its many settings can make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. For a busy photographer (especially when on a time crunch), manually opening and closing panels is tedious. This is especially true in the Develop Module. Solo Mode

    Thankfully, Lightroom has a setting in place that makes navigating the interface much more user-friendly. This is called Solo Mode. With Solo Mode in place, any open panel will automatically collapse once you interact with another one. Rather than spending valuable time scrolling back and forth, you can navigate around the panels at lightning-speed. Try it out once and you will never go back. This one setting alone will give you a huge boost in productivity, saving you hours over the course of a lifetime!

    To turn on Solo Mode: hold down Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) and click on a panel header. You can also right-click on any panel and select Solo Mode.

  7. Straighten Tool When Cropping
  8. The Straighten Tool within Crop Mode can be used to straighten out a photo by drawing a line across anything that should be a straight line, and the crop will automatically adjust itself so this line is horizontal. This is especially helpful for those photos where the horizon line isn’t quite level. If you have several photos that need these adjustments, you can speed up the process by using a quick shortcut. To get to Crop Mode quickly, just press R. When inside Crop Mode, rather than accessing the Straighten Tool by clicking on the icon in the panel, just hold down the Command (Mac) or Control (Windows) key and the straighten tool will appear. From there just draw the line and the crop will adjust. This is a quick way to straighten a photo without needing to click on the tool itself.

  9. Switch Between Brush And Eraser
  10. One of the best features of the Lightroom adjustment brush is that the changes you make to the photo are nondestructive and always able to be edited. When editing, you may spend a lot of time using the adjustment brush to do detail work and small, local corrections. Because these adjustments aren’t permanently applied to the photo, you might find yourself switching back and forth between the brush and eraser tools. Rather than going to the panel every time you want to make the switch, try using the quick shortcut Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows). You can go back and forth between the two tools without ever leaving the photo. This can be a great time saver, especially when doing a lot of small detail work.

These are just a few of the many shortcuts that Lightroom has available. Learning shortcuts like these will end up saving you hours in your workflow, and takes only seconds to learn. If you’d like to learn more shortcuts, download our printable Quick Guide to Lightroom Shortcuts (Mac or Windows). While it isn’t a full list by any means, it’s a great way to start learning!

Now that you’ve read about these 5 shortcuts, let us know: What shortcuts do you find essential to your Lightroom workflow? What would you add to the list?

About the Author

Dustin Olsen

Dustin Olsen is a professional photographer living in Boise, Idaho.


  1. Eric Duquette

    …please re-number your shortcuts. They are all numbered “1”.

  2. hools

    great tnx
    I would add the F shortcut (maximize window, again makes LR in full screen

  3. Rob

    I’d also add:
    When using the crop tool, press X to switch the crop between horizontal and landscape.


    1. bigmetfan

      thank you for all of these, especially to Rob. Using the X when cropping is absolutely brilliant!!!!!

  4. Jake Egbert

    Great tips! Caps Lock Advance and the Straighten Tool were both welcome news to me.

    Along with using copy paste, I use Paste Settings from Previous Selected Photo all the time (Ctrl+Alt+V for PC or the Previous button to the right of the toolbar in the Develop Module). You can simply switch directly from that flower shot you spent 3 minutes adjusting to the next similar photo from the filmstrip or grid view (they’re not always rignt next to each other) and apply the paste settings from previous command. It can be faseter because it skips the copy settings pop-up window and applies *all* the same settings in one step.

  5. Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead

    I am a first-time LR user; just installed LR 5.0; is ‘erase’ the same as ‘heal’?

    1. Debbie

      Tiberman, In your brush panel at bottom panel, you will see brush A B Erase, Erase removes any mistakes you made with your brushes when editing.

  6. rafiayub

    I am also a proud owner and user of Lr since it’s beginning.
    Practice is the only magic takes you to the winner seat.
    Do your images again and again with a mind to enhance them.
    My younger son is having the same age of Lr but I stayed with Lr more time than my son. And of course my wife is not happy with me.

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  8. salsaguy

    You said use P and X for picks but that is partially wrong. X is for saying you DONT want / don’t like that pix and want to flag it to be deleted after you go thru rating all your pix. When u hit X it turns that pix grey in the filmstrip below . Once done rating your pix you can then go back and delete all those you put an X onto. The rule to remember is shoot lots but delete even more
    Keep and share only your best work.

  9. Shiny Doshi

    I have been using lightroom for mainly as a tool to shortlist and organize my photos, because selecting the photos with photoshop would be a nightmare and trust me I have been there. I usually get so busy neck-deep in my work that I hardly find time to learn any other stuff, now I realize I should be reading a bit too.

    You have no idea how much time you have saved me with the first method – auto advance and the third method – solo mode. I just had to say thanks and please keep writing, this is amazing.

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