10 Objects you Didn't Know could be Dragged, Clicked or Opened in Lightroom

10 Objects you Didn’t Know could be Dragged, Clicked or Opened in Lightroom

If you’re new to Lightroom, there are a lot of interface options that you may not realize hide must know and handy program features. In this post, I’ll show you some of the buttons, icons, samplers and switches that a knowledge of Photoshop (at least versions prior to CS4) won’t help you identify or locate.

1. Navigator


In the top left corner of the Library and Develop modules you’ll see the Navigator. Beside it are the Fit, Fill, 1:1 and 3:1 options. Click these to resize the image in the current window to various sizes including fitting in the space, filling it and 1:1 and 3:1 resizing options. Other sizing ratios are available from the dropdown list.

The 1:1 ratio is particularly useful when you’re sharpening an image. You may already know that, when you hold the Alt key as you drag on the sharpening sliders the small preview image turns to a grayscale mask showing you the impact of the slider on the image.

If you are in 1:1 preview, the entire image acts as the preview, allowing you to focus in on a much larger area of the image and see the sharpening effect. 3:1 and other larger sizes also work but 1:1 is the minimum size

2. Switches


Switches in Lightroom appear in areas such as the Develop module where they can be used to enable or disable a setting such as the Tone Curve. Switch the switch to the up position to turn it on and to the down position to turn it off.

When using the Adjustments Brush the switch works from left to right to select to work with one fix at a time (Effect Buttons) or to work with multiple adjustments at once (Effect Sliders).

3. Arrows


In the Library > Keyword list panel, you can click the arrow to the right of a keyword to view images that have that keyword associated with them.

These arrows only appear when you are hovering over a keyword in the list.

4. Expand/Collapse Triangles


Throughout the Develop panel, for example, are small triangles beside the various options that you can click on to display or hide that option. For example, when Detail is not visible click its triangle and the detail panel will display.

There is another triangle directly below the Detail triangle which appears only when it is expanded. Click this to display and hide the sharpening preview dialog.

Watch out for these triangles – sometimes they aren’t light gray and are, instead, almost black and difficult to see.

5. Area Picker


Also in the Detail area of the Develop module is a small square icon with lines radiating from it that you can click on and then click on an area of the image to determine what shows in the preview panel for the sharpening process. This icon has a visible tooltip which helps identify what it does – most do not.

6. Eyedropper


In the Develop panel’s Basic module is a white balance selector icon. Click it and click on an area of the image which should be white.

This adjusts the white balance of the image based on that selection. It also displays a small 25 x 25 pixel grid showing the pixels in the general area so that you can be more accurate in your selection.

7. Adjustment Markers


When you use the Adjustment Brush or the Graduated Filter, you will see a marker on the image which, when you click on it turns into a black circle surrounded by a lighter circle.

This marks the adjustment or the filter and you need to click this to select it before you can make alterations to the adjustment or to the filter.

8. Invisible clickable rotation options


In the Print module, watch out for items that don’t even look like they are selectable.

For example, in the Overlays > Identity Plate area when you have the identity plate enabled there is a small indicator to the right of it showing the current rotation in degrees.

If you click it you will see a popup menu offering other rotation options.

9. Way big buttons


Watch out for panels at the top of dialogs which can contain selectable options. For example, a dialog that has a large area like that shown in this image is often selectable offering different options but because it doesn’t look like a typical selectable option, it’s easy to overlook.

10. Direct Adjustment tool


In some areas such as the Tone Curve and Hue/Saturation Lightness in the Develop module you’ll see a small adjustment indicator in the top left of the panel area.

Click it and then drag on the image to change the image at that point.

While in Photoshop CS3 you would drag left to right to alter the sliders, in Lightroom you’ll typically drag up and down with this tool.

While these aren’t all the unusual buttons that you’ll find in Lightroom, it should help you understand that a lot of the features in Lightroom are hidden behind icons and buttons for which even a program like Photoshop is no adequate preparation for locating, understanding and using.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

Some Older Comments

  • Nace June 20, 2011 11:58 pm

    Hi Helen,

    I notice you using examples from Cs3 and Lightroom 2, I have these programs but find that they do not interact, or am I wrong?
    I have tried to go from Lightrooom through "Edit", Edit in photoshop CS3, which opens photoshop but with no image and gives a message basically saying that I need to use CS4 which I find very very anoying as I cannot afford CS4 or 5, is there a way round this at all?

    Many Thanks,


  • retlaw7 June 18, 2011 09:46 am

    I knew all of these, I guess that just makes me cool :)

  • Nace November 12, 2010 03:12 pm

    So much to learn, so little time!

  • Brad Lindenmayer October 1, 2010 08:42 am

    @Pam The soften skin mode will show up when you click the "Adjustment Brush" icon and the brush panel shows up on the right side. It's near the top where is says "Effect" just click to the right of "effect" and it will drop down your different adjustment brush modes.

    - Brad

  • Elizabeth Halford January 10, 2010 05:33 am

    Wow this blows my mind! I use LR everyday and didn't know about a few of those.

  • Pam November 19, 2009 11:09 am

    Is there an adjustment brush to soften skin. I've found it before and I can't seem to find it again. Am I looking in the right place? Also, if I put a soften preset on my images, can I remove the soften effect on the eyes so they are still nice and sharp? Thank you

  • Caleb B November 14, 2009 12:52 am

    For #3 keywords can actually be added using text edit on a mac and then added to LR. A few shortcuts that may be helpful is the "H" key can hide the circles while using the gradient filter and adjustment brush the "O" key will show an overlay of what you have "painted", and the color of that overlay can be changed by holding shift + O. While using the adjustment brush holding down option will allow you to erase for those of us who can not color between the lines. The white balance dropper can also be used by hitting the "W" key.

  • Togin Thomas July 19, 2009 12:28 am

    It is indeed a great article and I have a doubt which someone could help out ? Is there a way we can have our identity or any writing or copyright info printed on the exported Jpeg ? from the Lightroom ? Thanks a lot

  • Ken July 17, 2009 10:29 am

    Great tips - thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • Tony W July 15, 2009 03:23 pm

    Something I learnt yesterday:
    Picking a colour from the image for the Gradient or Brushes tool (I have only tested the Gradient Tool)

    1. Add the gradient or adjustment brush mask

    2. Click onto the Color adjustment to display the colour choice popup

    3. Click onto the eye dropper and then drag the it over the image (with the mouse button still down)

    4. The sampled image color is reflected back in the colour choice popup

    (Thanks go to Philip Andrews for this tidbit)

  • fac73 July 15, 2009 11:52 am

    Thanks for the tips. I actually knew these already, but learned about each individual one from different sources. So it's nice to have them all in one place.

  • Alastair July 15, 2009 06:24 am

    @Stephanie: Yes, Matt Kloskowski's method is also OK and has the distinct advantage that you can do it with the tools already built into Lightroom. The disadvantage of exporting a JPEG slideshow is that you miss out on the options in the "export" dialogue box like sharpening, for example - but if that works for you, then great! :-)

  • Stephanie Stewart July 15, 2009 06:05 am

    @alastair: Thanks for your tip! I also found a tutorial that was very helpful: http://www.lightroomkillertips.com/2008/video-watermarking-your-photos/
    Thanks again!!! I appreciate it! :)

  • Alastair July 15, 2009 05:59 am

    @Stephanie: I have found the 'Mogrify' plugin very useful for putting watermarks on each exported photo. See http://timothyarmes.com/lr2mogrify.php

  • Stephanie Stewart July 15, 2009 12:54 am

    Thank you, Helen! I have a question: is there a way to export photos from Lightroom while putting a watermark or "PROOF" on each photo? Thanks for your help!!

  • Oliver Rühl July 14, 2009 05:23 pm

    Thanks Helen!
    Its really easy to overlook these small buttons and some really have a big effect ;-)

  • Helen Bradley July 14, 2009 05:55 am

    Jeff is right, I'm sorry, there are one too many "whites" in that tip. With the White Balance Selector you should of course be looking for something which should be a neutral color as the image shows. In some circumstances this might be white, but it will more typically be a neutral gray.

  • Zack Jones July 14, 2009 05:24 am

    #3 - Very cool! I'll have to try that one tonight. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Janne July 14, 2009 03:03 am

    Good tips!

    I'd say #9 is a UI deficiency more than anything else. If you need a manual/blog post to emphasize where one of the key drop down menus actually is in a dialog, something has gone wrong in the UI design.

    Overall Lightroom is super though!

  • Jeff July 14, 2009 03:02 am

    For #6, Eyedropper, I believe the directions should say to click on something in the picture that is supposed to be grey to set the WB, not white as directed. Selecting something white will really throw off your WB.