Knowing and using the best Lightroom keyboard shortcuts will absolutely change your life. It will help you work more effectively, because sometimes it’s about working smarter, not harder.
Thankfully, keyboard shortcuts are one of many helpful Lightroom tools you can use to your advantage. You could, in theory, use the program with no mouse at all. You don’t need to take these tips that far, but implementing some of the best keyboard shortcuts for Lightroom will help you streamline your workflow.
Lightroom has dozens of shortcuts, and I’ve gathered a few of my favourites here as a handy list of go-tos and how you can start using them regularly.
Before & After Lightroom Keyboard Shortcut
Lightroom Shortcut Key: \
Start by clicking through your Mastin Labs preset arsenal and settle on your favorite one for that image. Then, press the backslash key, and say, “Whoa!” Press the key again to toggle back to your adjustment. As simple and even self-explanatory as this shortcut key is, the before and after toggle is an invaluable time-saver.
Lightroom shortcut key \
Hide All Panels in Lightroom
Lightroom Shortcut Key: Shift + Tab
If you want to get a larger, clearer view of your current image, try this quick and easy Lightroom keyboard shortcut. What this shortcut does is hides all of the side panels and toolbars. It’s really handy if you want to remove the noise from your screen. An alternative to this would be to simply use the F key to access full screen mode, but this shortcut only allows you to zoom in and out, which means you lose access to the panels entirely.
Crop & Straighten in Lightroom
Lightroom Shortcut Key: R
The crop and straighten tool in Lightroom gets used all the time. I use it a ton because I often prefer a shorter aspect ratio than the given 3:2 frame of DSLRs and 35mm film. Whatever your reasons, if you shoot a lot, then you’re using this tool a lot!
Make it easier on yourself and remember to press the “R” key. For quick straightening once you’re in the Crop & Straighten module, hold down the ⌘ key or (CTRL for PC) and drag your cursor along the horizon line (or whatever line should be straight and level).
Lightroom shortcut key R
Convert to Black & White with this Lightroom Shortcut
Lightroom Shortcut Key: V
Are you ever working on a photo when you start to wonder how it might look in black and white? There is an easy way to find out in Lightroom with this trick. Hit the V key to get an idea and see what you think. Interestingly, the tweaks are done on a per-image basis (thank you algorithms), which you can check out by going to the B&W panel in the Develop Module (after pressing V). Did the black and white rendition not blow you away? All you have to do is press V to return back to the colour image.
Lights Out in Lightroom
Lightroom Shortcut Key: L
There’s a chance that you may not even know that this tool exists. Have you ever wished or even gone to great lengths to see the image you’re editing without all of the distracting tools, sliders, and panels around it? I know I have, and when I found out that I could do it by pressing just one single key, it changed the game for me.
Press the “L” key, and it’s lights out! This shortcut toggles between a couple of options. The first time you press it, Lightroom darkens everything but your selected image by about 90%. Press L again, and it goes black, leaving nothing but your image to see.
One of the best things about this tool is that it works in both the Develop and Library modules. You can also continue editing and making adjustments with the Lights Out feature turned on.
Lightroom shortcut key L
Lightroom shortcut key L + L
Auto Advance Image Selection
Lightroom Shortcut Key: Caps Lock
Once you are finished importing to your catalog, you’ll probably go through and rate your images in Lightroom. When you turn the Caps Lock on, your images will automatically advance to the next one after a flag or rating has been applied. It doesn’t sound like much of a step, but in the long run this will end up saving you tons of time by removing the necessity for you to manually advance each and every time. As far as Lightroom keyboard shortcuts are considered, this is definitely one you should implement to tighten up your post-processing workflow!
Flag Photo as Pic
Lightroom Shortcut Key: P
While you’re going through your photos from a shoot, you might want to utilize a keyboard shortcut as a quick way to sort your selections. First, you might want to use the Auto Advance shortcut. Then you can use the P key to flag the images as you go along. This allows you to use the view controls in the Library module to display the flagged images as needed. Like the last Lightroom Shortcut Tip, on one image it may not seem like a lot, but this shortcut will save you a lot of time when going through a full photoshoot.
Survey Mode Lightroom Shortcut
Lightroom Shortcut Key: N
Just as with the Lights Out tool, Survey Mode is another lesser-known Lightroom feature. I had no idea that it existed for years, and it was also a game changer when I discovered it.
This tool is meant to be used with multiple images. In either the Develop or the Library module, select two or more images that you’re interested in comparing or seeing together. Once they’re selected, press the “N” key. This toggles a display of all of the chosen images. While toggled, you can still add or subtract images in the selection, as well as change, flag, and rate.
Double click on any of the images to exit Survey Mode. You may also press “D” to return to the Develop module or “G” to return to the Library. Your selected images will still be highlighted.
Survey Mode also works with the Lights Out tool, letting you focus on multiple images at one time with zero noise or distraction around them.
Lightroom shortcut key N
Reject Photo in Lightroom
Lightroom Shortcut Key: X
While going through your photos, some of the results will be no-gos. This shortcut is mostly used in conjunction with the P key (the flag photo shortcut) as you make your way through your images. While you’re flagging picks with P, you can also reject the unwanted photos by using X. These will then appear greyed out in the Library module. This makes it clear which photos can be ignored or deleted altogether.
Star Ratings Keyboard Shortcuts
Shortcut Keys: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
Even if you’re a diligent and disciplined image culler, sometimes it’s still just so hard to decide on the selects to send to clients. It’s especially hard to narrow down to just ONE favorite to add to the portfolio! Everyone develops their system for how to do this, but I’ve used the Lightroom star rating feature to help me for years.
It’s pretty straightforward. Press the number 1 key for one star, 2 for two, and so on.
The way that I typically use this system is:
One star for all images considered as selected. I then look at only the 1-star selections.
I give 2 stars for any that I like a bit more, and 3 stars for an even higher value.
If I look at only 3-star selections, I have really narrowed things down. A 4-star image is a decided select, and I give 5 stars to images that are ready for export.
Lightroom shortcut keys 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
Lightroom Shortcuts Make Photo Editing Easier
Hopefully after reading this you’ve learned a few things about Lightroom you didn’t know before. Remember that whatever it is within Lightroom that you find yourself going back to time and time again, there is probably a keyboard shortcut for it! You really have to try these shortcuts yourself to understand their value.
If you want to streamline your workflow and edit more efficiently, commit these tools to memory (or at least write them down).You’ll be glad that you did.
Want to learn about more helpful Lightroom tools? Check these out!