5 (More) Lightroom Panel Tricks

5 (More) Lightroom Panel Tricks

When you spend a lot of your editing time in Lightroom it makes sense to learn how to work the interface so it behaves as you need it to. In a previous post I listed some of my favourite Lightroom interface features. Here are my next favourite five, most of which have earned a place in my repertoire courtesy of spending far too much time editing on a 12″ laptop where screen space is at a premium.


1. Learn the F keys

The function keys F5, F6, F7 and F8 can clean up the Lightroom screen very quickly. F5 controls the top panel, F6 the bottom, F7 the left and F8 the right panel. Pressing any one of these keys will hide or display the appropriate panel. It’s an easy way to get rid of a panel you don’t want to see without having to reach for the mouse.


2. It is T for toolbar

At some time you may have toggled your toolbar off by mistake. When it goes, it takes with it handy tools such as Flag, Rate, Color Labels, the rotation tools, zoom tool and your Loupe and Grid buttons. In short, one accidental press of the T key can wipe out a lot of Lightroom functionality. When these tools go missing, press T and they’ll all come back again.


3. More panel magic – Tab key

When you need to instantly remove the side panels from the screen, hit the Tab key. Shift Tab will toggle all panels on and off, Tab toggles just the side panels.


4. Open a second window – Yep – how cool is that?

If you want to see the Grid, Loupe, Compare or Survey View in a new second window, press F11. Once the second window is open, you can select what to view in it.


In Loupe view you can Lock the second window so that you see a single image in it regardless of what is visible on the main screen or choose Normal to view the currently selected image or Live to see the image under the mouse pointer.

To get rid of this window, press F11 again or click its Close button.

5. Lights out and screen modes

The L key toggles through the various lights out mode. The first is lights down, the second lights out and then press it again to return to the regular mode. This is handy when you want to see one image or the entire grid without any screen distractions. Similarly the F key scrolls around various screen modes including Normal, Full Screen with Menu bar, Full Screen and Full Screen and Hide Panels.


So, there are five of my new favourite panel options and now it is over to you. What panel tips, tricks and keystrokes can’t you live without?

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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

  • Michelle July 24, 2013 10:52 am

    Thanks Mat! Got it! :) That was driving me crazy!!

  • Mat Gaskins July 20, 2013 01:25 pm

    michelle, I had the same problem. Finally figured it out! Left-click your left side develop panel and you'll have a selection menu of things to display and you'll see that "basic" is not checked off. Just click it and it will come back :D

  • Michelle July 14, 2013 04:57 am

    I recently got Lightroom 5 and have somehow managed to lose the "basic" and "detail" tabs on my Develop sidebar. Can you tell me how to get them back? I was using them last night, but this morning, all I have is Tone Curve, HSL/Color/B&W, Split Toning, Lens Corrections, Effects & Camera Calibration. Now I cannot adjust the exposure and contrast. Thanks!

  • Maclinley April 9, 2010 08:55 am

    Nice tips. The f key functions were completely new to me.

  • melbourne wedding photographer April 8, 2010 10:30 pm

    Great tips whoalse.I find it very useful to have the grid view up on my secondary monitor and the development window up on my main monitor.

  • G-Mans-Shadow April 8, 2010 04:33 am

    What would be kewl is some tips on how to customize/personalize the lightroom logo. So when is the full version of LR3 being released? Any ideas? Glad they finally fixed the curves tool!

  • Kimberly April 8, 2010 02:09 am

    These tips are great! Thanks for sharing.

  • UT Hornfan April 5, 2010 11:17 am

    Thanks Helen,

    Love the tips. Keep them coming!! They have already come in handy. I'm so bad about opening the software diving in, and not learning the nuances. Your work is priceless.

  • emptiful April 4, 2010 02:54 pm

    Great tips Helen! I love anything that saves me using the mouse!

    Also, for those using a Macbook like me, don't forget you may also need to hold the function (fn) key to use the F5-F8 and F11 keys... depending on how you have them set up...

  • Helen Bradley April 3, 2010 02:19 am

    @cesar Yes, the Lightroom commands shown here all work just the same in Lightroom on the Mac.


  • Richard Skoonberg April 2, 2010 11:43 am

    Great tip! Thank you, Helen.

  • PotatoEYE April 2, 2010 10:25 am

    Didn't know about F11! Thanks a lot

  • Aaron April 2, 2010 07:03 am

    You can also lock the secondary window to another monitor. I find it very useful to have the grid view up on my secondary monitor and the development window up on my main monitor. With both windows filling the screen it makes for a wonderful distraction free work environment.

  • Trude April 2, 2010 03:48 am

    Thanks for consolidating these! I don't know what I did before LR. :)

  • Naois April 2, 2010 03:34 am

    That F11 tip is fantastic! Thanks a bunch!

  • cesar osses April 2, 2010 01:44 am

    interesting tips! I use Lightroom as my main processing tool, but I wonder if these shortcuts are the same for the mac version. could you please clarify?

    thanks and all the very best

  • Shannon April 2, 2010 01:39 am

    I really need to upgrade my creative suite. I'm saving up for CS5 so hopefully I'll be able to get that when it comes out.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever April 2, 2010 01:06 am

    Very cool! I just started using Lightroom (I know...I really waited forever to try it!) and I am in love with it! Just like Photoshop there is a definite learning curve. Thanks for sharing!

    PS... new photo contest just posted on my blog!