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!
- Caps Lock 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!
- Copy/Paste Settings
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)
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.
- Solo Mode
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.
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.
- Straighten Tool When Cropping
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.
- Switch Between Brush And Eraser
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?