Five Useful Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

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Lightroom shortcuts

Adobe makes life easier for Lightroom users by building in keyboard shortcuts. You probably know some of the more important ones by heart (e.g.: T to reveal or hide the Toolbar, \ to toggle between before and after views, and O to reveal the Adjustment Brush overlay). But I’m also betting there are quite a few shortcuts you didn’t even know existed. Here are some of the more useful, lesser known ones.

1. Reveal all Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are difficult to remember, especially if you don’t use them that often. But if you press Ctrl + / (PC) or Cmd + / (Mac), Lightroom displays a list of the shortcuts available in the current module. When you’re done, click anywhere on the shortcut list to hide it.

Lightroom shortcuts

Library module shortcuts.

Lightroom shortcuts

Develop module shortcuts.

Note: The rest of these keyboard shortcuts are for the Develop module. Not all of them are shown on the shortcuts list.

2. Rotate the Crop Overlay

If you’ve ever tried to make a portrait crop from a landscape image you’ll have experienced the frustration of trying to rotate the Crop Overlay (press R to go straight to that tool).

Lightroom automatically gives the Crop Overlay the same orientation as the photo, with no immediately obvious way of rotating it. To do so, simply press X.

Lightroom shortcuts

By default the Crop Overlay is automatically given the same size and orientation as the original frame.

Lightroom shortcuts

Press X to rotate the Crop Overlay and make an extreme crop.

3. Resample Spot Removal Tool

The good thing about the Spot Removal Tool (which you can activate by pressing Q) is that Lightroom is quite good at guessing which part of the image it should sample, in order to heal the selected area. But it doesn’t get it right all the time. If you don’t like the result, press the / key and Lightroom will choose a different area to sample. Repeat as often as you like.

Lightroom shortcuts

In this example I wanted to get rid of this dark blob in the background because it’s a distraction.

Lightroom shortcuts

Lightroom’s first guess doesn’t really work.

Lightroom shortcuts

But the second one is much better. You can of course fine-tune it by moving the pin indicating the sampled area manually.

4. Automatic White and Black points

If you double-click on the Whites and Blacks sliders in the Basic panel, Lightroom resets them to zero. If you hold the Shift key down while you do it, Lightroom calculates the best settings, working out where to position both sliders so that the histogram stretches all the way from the left side of the graph (shadows) to the right (highlights) without any gaps. This quick fix makes most photos look better right away. The flatter the original photo, the more extreme the settings required.

Lightroom shortcuts

Double-click the Whites and Blacks sliders while holding the Shift key down. Make sure you double-click the words and not the slider itself.

5. Flip a Graduated Filter

Press the apostrophe key to flip (invert) a Graduated Filter. One practical use for this is as follows:

  • Create a Graduated Filter over the sky of a landscape image (hold the Shift key down while you do so to keep the Graduated Filter straight) and move the Exposure slider left to darken that area.
  • Right-click on the Graduated Filter’s pin and select Duplicate. This creates a new Graduated Filter with exactly the same settings as the first.
  • Press the apostrophe key to flip the Graduated Filter. Now the minus Exposure setting is applied to the foreground. We don’t want to make the foreground darker, so double-click the Exposure slider to return it to zero. Now we are ready to use this new Graduated Filter to enhance the foreground.
  • Move the Clarity slider right to emphasise the texture in the foreground. You may also need to move the Exposure slider left if this brightens the foreground too much.

The net result is that you have applied two Graduated Filters, one to the sky, and the other to the foreground.

***By the way, the apostrophe shortcut also works with the Radial Filter.

Lightroom shortcuts

(A) Original photo. (B) Graduated Filter with minus Exposure applied to sky. (C) Duplicated and flipped Graduated Filter applied to foreground, with plus Clarity and minus Exposure. (D) Final result.

Your turn

What keyboard shortcuts do you use in Lightroom and why? Please let us know in the comments.


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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer and traveler. He is the author of over twenty photography ebooks and runs The Creative Photographer photography blog. Join his monthly newsletter to receive complimentary copies of The Creative Image, What's New in Lightroom CC? and Use Lightroom Better!

  • i love how lightroom allows scroll wheel brushsize adjustment .. anyone know how to get that in photoshop?

  • Morgan Glassco

    I am not at my PC with PS on it but I feel like it is Ctrl+Alt and then scroll or Ctrl+Right Click and Drag your mouse Up/Dwn Lft/Rght

  • Morgan Glassco

    The shortcut I use most is probably / in Develop to show how the image looked on Import (different than reset if you applied a Preset on Import). Sometimes you get lost in an edit and lose your bearing. A quick glimpse of where you’re coming from can help you remember where you’re going.

    Also pressing Alt while in one of the Develop panels usually brings up the Reset option. So if you’re using the adjustment brush ( K ), and want to start a new brush hit New, Alt – Rest and then you have a blank brush to start with.

  • thanks .. the equivalent on my mac does something else .. appreciate your time, enjoy

  • granny franny

    the pc command does not work 😕

  • Those are good shortcuts, thanks for sharing.

  • PC’s don’t have a Command key. Use the Control key instead.

  • I don’t think there’s a way to adjust brush size with the scroll wheel in Photoshop but this may help (Photoshop CS 4 and newer):

    To resize a cursor, press Alt + right-click (Windows) or Control +
    Option (Mac OS), and drag left or right. To change hardness, drag up or
    down. You get a preview, in red, of what the cursor size and hardness
    setting is.

  • Doug Stead

    Thanks for these short cut tips. I’m having trouble with you used most “is probably / in Develop to show how the image looked on Import”. I like the idea of see the image as uploaded to LR, but when I use / in the develop module it deselects the image I’m using.

  • Stan

    Use the

  • Doug Stead

    Thanks Stan.

  • Patrick Kelly

    Thanks for this post! Funny how I can use Lightroom for so long and never find the more valuable shortcuts. Very useful and appreciated!

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  • Mike Schmitt

    When zoomed in to an image, how can you pan while using an adjustment brush or spot healing tool?

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  • Ozkkar Delgado

    great information, thanks for sharing Andrew S. Gibson

  • I just learned the shift double click for black and white points a few weeks ago. So Helpful! I usually dial it back a little bit but great for a general setting.

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  • Bryce Wilson

    Great article, thanks very much!

  • Claude B.

    Great thanks!
    Is there a way to change a picture to get the left side to the right side and the right of the picture to be on the left? (Like a miror)

  • Yes there is. In the Library or Develop modules go to Photo > Flip Horizontal. As far as I know there is no keyboard shortcut for it.

  • Haha #1 is a total cheat! That’s like asking a 3-wish genie for 100 more wishes 😀

    My first thought when I read the headline was picking only 5 would be like choosing between your children… #1 definitely wouldn’t have made my cut

  • hans cras

    Maybe common knowledge but when working on a serie of photo’s I like:
    After processing the first photo press Ctrl+shift+c, You can choose what modification you want to copy. Go to next photo and press Ctrl+shift+v. All setting will be pasted. Usually a good start for further prosessing.

  • Ted Dudziak

    In trying this in PS I found that was also able to change the zoom while in Brush or Spot Healing by pressing Opt-CMD and using the wheel on the mouse. I know this is a LR post but I am always interested in how much Adobe uses that is common to both programs since they seem to be making LR much more capable. The #1 short cut is a little less engaging in PS. See above.

  • Ted Dudziak

    Well for a PS user it was helpful since the LR shortcut described launches a webpage for PS Help. The equivalent in PS is opt-shift-cmd K which is a little less friendly. Again, I am interested in the similarities for both programs.

  • In which case I’d strongly urge anyone at this stage to find a good Lightroom shortcut ‘cheatsheet’ on the web and print it off instead 🙂 I don’t think the built in one is particularly good nor convenient to access when you’re editing.

    I quickly made a Word doc up of my own: whittling it down to the ones that were important to me and then printed this off and put it on my wall above my screens for when I’m feeling forgetful and as a guide for others.

  • C.B.

    Thanks! Finish my frustration. 🙂

  • Ted Dudziak

    I agree since I have a couple of cheat sheets one for PS which is what I use and one for LR which I send to folks when they are looking for alternative cheat-sheets from what they are using. I even have some that are “on the deck” of my MacBook Pro using Post-its that I make up when I am working on a project. They reside right under my palm for easy access.

  • Ted Dudziak

    Another way to get acquainted with keystrokes is to develop an understanding of the high level effect of a key such as X, shift and opt. Think of X as “exchange”, SHIFT as “sequence through” and opt as “opposite of” so trying it with different keys will get some kind of effect. Be careful though especially if you can touch type so that you don’t execute an operation that can’t be recovered. Thank goodness for cmd-z and history as well as the forward/background commands in the Edit menu. The use of keyboard commands reminds me of the Unix screen editor, vi, for software editing which can cause all sorts of things to happen with various key sequences.

  • is there any way to invert a mask into a new mask?

  • Phila Madondo

    Awesome, I will try that. Thanks

  • Phila Madondo

    A great and useful article – especially that CMD+ to reveal all module shortcuts! Problem solved 🙂

  • Wim Helsen

    If you press the “Previous” button in the bottem right corner of your screen, all the modifications you’ve did to the previous photo wil automaticly be copied to the new photo.

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