Adobe Lightroom is arguably the most popular photo editor on the market. It’s not hard to understand why once you get to know its powerful organizing and processing tools. Learning the software well enough to take full advantage of it takes a long time and in this process, we tend to make habits that are more complicated necessary.
Many get discouraged from processing and organizing their photos as it seems like a time-consuming task but, luckily, there are several hidden Lightroom features and simple tricks that can speed up your workflow.
Some of them are small, some of them are obvious and some of them are well hidden. But they all have a purpose. Implementing them into your workflow may positively impact your images and perhaps even change how you use Lightroom.
#1 Reject and delete multiple images
Let’s be honest; we all capture way more images than we need to.
It’s easy to get a little ‘trigger happy’ when the conditions are great or when photographing wildlife or moving elements. Our hard drives fill up quickly with thousands of images that will never see the light of day.
Deleting images is a good way to both keep your folders organized and save space on your disk but the process of deleting hundreds, or thousands, of photos can be quite tedious.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to delete multiple images in Lightroom. Start by clicking ‘X’ on the keyboard to reject an image and repeat this with all the images you want to delete.
When you’ve flagged (rejected) all the images you want to delete, hit Command + Delete (Mac) or Ctrl + Backspace (PC) on your keyboard. This opens a pop-up window where you can choose to either delete all rejected photos from Lightroom (Remove) or the HDD (Delete from Disk).
This neat little trick saves you hours of tedious work!
#2 Use Capslock to organize quicker
Processing or organizing bulks of images can take a lot of time so anything that saves a second or two is welcomed with open arms. The Capslock trick is one of these.
Activating Capslock makes it so that Lightroom automatically moves on to the next photo after you use a shortcut to label or rate one of your photos. This is quite useful for anyone who uses the rating (stars) system for organizing their images.
I’ve previously written about how I rate my images in Lightroom and there I mentioned that I give a 3-star rating to all images that I see potential in. When I’ve imported and applied keywords to the images, I begin the rating process. This involves rejecting photos for deletion and rating for future processing.
When Capslock is activated, Lightroom automatically moves to the next photo after rejecting, labeling or rating the photo. This means that when I hit ‘X’ to reject a photo, it rejects it and moves to the next photo. In other words, I don’t need to use the arrow key.
It’s a small trick but one that I’ve grown to love.
#3 Quickly apply keywords to bulks of images
Applying keywords to your images in Adobe Lightroom is another great way of keeping your libraries organized and easy to search through. Yet again, it something that can be time-consuming when importing bulks of images and that’s a factor that scares many away.
It doesn’t need to be that tedious though. It’s actually quite simple to apply a series of keywords to hundreds of images at the same time.
Make sure that you’re viewing images in the Grid View (G) and select all the images you want to keyword. You can add individual images to your selection by Cmd/Ctrl + clicking on them or select a series by clicking on the first image and holding Shift when clicking the last image.
Selected images are highlighted in the grid view such as shown on the image below:
The next step is to write your keywords in the Keyword Tab to the right. These should now be applied to all the selected images. You can double check by scrolling through a few images to see that it has been applied. Note that keywords with a * symbol behind them have not been applied to all selected photos.
#4 Hold Alt/Option to apply keywords
Another neat trick to speed up your keyword workflow is to hold the Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) button on your keyword and use the number buttons to insert saved keywords. You’ll need to hold the Alt/Option button while clicking 1 to 9 to add the keywords.
This can come in handy if you’re often using the same keywords and want a quick way to apply them.
#5 Use Solo Mode to collapse panels
There are a lot of panels in Lightroom’s Develop Module and there can be a fair bit of scrolling up and down when working between them. In order to avoid that scrolling you can choose to activate the Solo Mode. When this mode is activated, only one tab is open at the time.
For example, if you’re using the Basics Tab to make corrections, the other tabs are closed. When you then open the Tone Curve Tab, the Basic Tab closes.
Activating the Solo Mode is done by right-clicking anywhere on any of the tabs and choosing Solo Mode from the drop-down list that appears.
This mode is only activated for the specific panel you’re within; it won’t be activated in the Navigator panel if you turned it on in the right-side panel of the Develop module. You’ll need to activate it individually for each panel.
#6 Use Smart Collections for better organizing
Smart Collections might not be a hidden Lightroom feature but it’s one that’s worth noticing. I can’t stress enough how important it is to organize your images already from the beginning; it’s going to save a substantial amount of time when your library grows.
The Smart Collections can be as simple or advanced as you want them. Personally, I regularly use a few of them, one of which is my printing folder. The criterion for being added to this folder is a 5-star rating. This means that any image that gets a 5-star rating automatically is included in my Print Collection. If I remove the rating, the image is subsequently removed from the collection.
You can add as many Smart Collections as you want and use different criteria for images to be included in them, such as all images with a 4-star rating and a Green Color Label. It’s all about finding a system that works for you.
#7 Visualize spots when removing dust spots
I think it’s safe to say that there is at least one or two small dust spots on your sensor. Well, unless you’ve just purchased a new camera or are a wizard of sensor cleaning.
Removing these spots is an important part of the post-processing and Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool does a good job of getting rid of them. However, it can be hard to spot them all.
The Visualize Spots option shows an inverted and detailed version of the image, which reveals spots and other imperfections. When activated, you can use the slider to adjust the contrast and details. Take a look at the video above for a closer look.
#8 Visualize the Sharpening using the Alt/Option key
Sharpening is a critical part of a photographer’s post-processing workflow but it can be rather difficult to see the impact that Lightroom’s sharpening sliders have on a photo. The differences are so minimal that they can be hard to see even when zoomed in 100%.
Luckily, there’s a trick that makes it a lot easier: press the Alt/Option button on your keyboard and hold it down as you use the mouse to drag the sliders back and forth. The image then looks something like this:
This makes it a lot easier to see how much sharpening is applied and it helps avoiding over-sharpening.
You can also use the Alt/Option key for the Masking slider to see what the mask will look like. The sharpening is only applied to white parts of the mask. The further you pull the slider to the right, the less of the image is sharpened.
#9 Adjust sliders using the keyboard
The right side panel of Lightroom fills only a small portion of the screen, which makes the sliders quite short. This means they become rather sensitive and it can be hard to get the exact value you want.
That’s why I recommend using the arrows on your keyboard to adjust the slider values instead of clicking and dragging them with the mouse. Start by clicking on the number next to the slider then use the up or down arrow to increase or decrease the slider’s value with 1. It’s also possible to increase or decrease the values by an increment of 10 by holding Shift while clicking the up or down arrow.
For the Temperature slider the increments are +/- 50 and +/- 200 (Shift).
#10 Reduce the Curves Tool’s sensitivity
It’s not only the adjustment sliders that are sensitiv in Lightroom; also the Curves Tool can be hard to work with. Especially when only making minor adjustments.
The Alt (Mac) or Option (PC) key is, yet again, the solution.
Holding this key decreases the sensitivity of the Curves Tool and makes it possible to apply more subtle adjustments. Just make sure that you’re using the Point Curve or Red, Green or Blue Channels as this sensitivity trick doesn’t work with the Parametric Curve.
#11 Sync adjustments with multiple photos
The final hidden Lightroom feature might not be completely hidden but it’s one that’s worth mentioning as it saves a significant amount of time when processing images in bulk.
Let’s say that you’ve returned home from a weeklong photo trip and have tens, if not hundreds, of images that you want to process with a similar style. Going into each individual photo and making these adjustments would be a process that takes days. Wouldn’t it be better if this instead took minutes?
Of course it would.
And that’s possible using the Sync function. All you need to do is process your first image and then select the rest of the photos you want processed before clicking on the Sync… button (or right-click an image and go to Settings -> Sync Settings…) A box should now appear where you can choose exactly which settings to sync.
It’s important that the edited image is the first one selected for this to work. If you select an unedited photo and sync it with your edited photo, you will remove the adjustments and reset it.
Adobe Lightroom is a large photo editor with lots of opportunities for organizing and editing your images. It can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning and many photographers are discouraged as it’s a common myth that processing is a time-consuming task. It doesn’t need to be that way.
These hidden Lightroom features can help speed up and perhaps even improve your workflow. They aren’t difficult to implement and some of them might seem simple but when combining these tricks you do save a significant amount of time.
Do you have any hidden Lightroom features you love? Let us know in a comment below!