5 Ninja Tips to Speed Up Your Lightroom Workflow

5 Ninja Tips to Speed Up Your Lightroom Workflow


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Here are five things that will make a huge difference to your Lightroom workflow by making you more efficient and saving you time.

1. Solo Mode

Solo Mode

Do you get frustrated scrolling up and down the panels looking for the right adjustment or setting? If so, then your frustration is over. Right click on one of the panels and in the drop down menu, select Solo Mode. Solo Mode only allows you to have one panel open at a time, so every time you open a panel the last one you had opened, closes. This allows you to easily see all the panels at once and find what your looking for quickly.

2. Auto Advance

The best way to find your keeper images after a shoot is by using flags. All you need to do is use the keyboard shortcuts; P for pick, and X for reject. This is a super fast way to power through your shoots. The problem is once you pick or reject an image you need to then click a right or left arrow key or mouse click on the next image to make the next selection. That’s where Auto Advance comes in. To turn it on make sure you’re in the Library module, then in the menu under Photo select Auto Advance. With this enabled, each time you flag an image Lightroom will move to the next image in the film strip automatically. This may not sound like a huge thing but believe me, when you have several hundred images to sort through saving one keystroke on each image will save you heaps of time.

Auto Advance

3. Quick Collections

Collections are super important in Lightroom. Using them is the best way to quickly switch between groups of images in the Develop module without switching back to the Library module and digging through your folders. Quick Collections is a term I’ve coined, but honestly this is the quickest way to create a collection. It’s really simple. Just grab a folder of images you want to make a collection from, then click and drag the folder to the collections panel. Once you see a blue bar appear, drop the folder and BOOM, instant collection.

Quick Collections

4. Turning Off Auto Show Panels

To give you more real estate on the screen it’s a great idea to hide the side panels when you are not using them. The perfect place to do this is with left panel in the develop module as most of the time everything you need is in the right panel. The problem is once it’s hidden and every time you mouse over to the left of the screen the panel pops out. That might be fine a couple of times but after a while you’ll find that it becomes annoying and starts to slow down your workflow. It’s easily fixed by right clicking on the panel disclosure triangle, and selecting manual from the drop down menu. This will stop the panel from opening automatically. When you want it back, just click on the triangle to show the panel.

Turn Off Auto Show Panels

5. Decluttering the Lightroom Interface

Learning Lightroom can be very overwhelming especially when you see all the modules in the top bar and all the different panels and settings. There is so much going on in the interface, it can lead to what I call Lightroom burnout. The tip here is to turn off the modules and panels you aren’t using by cleaning up the interface. This allows you to only focus on just the things you are learning or need to use regularly. Just right click on the top bar or any of the panels, and in the drop down menu select what module or panel you want to hide, repeat the process to unhide.


Like a lot of software there are many ways to achieve the same outcome. I encourage you to keep refining your workflow until you find the perfect system that works for you. Give these five tips a go; they will not only save you time, but help you on your way to achieve what I call Lightroom bliss. That is when you get to a place using Lightroom where there’s no more frustration or confusion, and it’s just all about having fun with your photography and creating beautiful images.

Dancing Gulls

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Johny Spencer is a professional landscape and wilderness photographer working for The National Park Service in Australia. He's passionate about sharing his photography knowledge and skills with others so that they can experience the same feelings and inspiration he does every time they press the shutter. Visit his website or check out his podcast the SIC Show (Share Inspire Create).

  • smegman

    “Quick Collections” may not be the best name, there’s already a feature called Quick Collections in LR. Pick a bunch of photos, across any folders, and press B. It gets added to a quick collection which is visible under the Catalog panel on the left.

  • John Norton

    Some really handy tips in there, solo mode and the x/p (well more the x) along with auto advance, excellent, thank you.

  • Humberto Mercado

    Very good tips, Thanks!

  • Johny Spencer

    Hi Buddy
    Great tip and perfect for people that love to use keyboard shortcuts.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Johny Spencer

    Hi John
    Glad you enjoyed the tips I hope they help speed up your workflow.

  • Johny Spencer

    Your Welcome
    Have a great day.

  • Excellent

  • Jesaporn Yanphaisan

    Thanks…for the good tips…

  • Arnold Hoddevik

    Great the drag-and-drop-tip. I also use the Solo Mode and manual hide/show panels.
    I use Quick Collection only now and then. I have a pretty god group of smart Collections in different Collection Sets, so I need not worry so much about organizing photos, as that happens automatically.

  • Debra Laurie

    There is a quicker easier way to progress from one image to the next when using the X for reject and P for pick and that is to press the caps lock key and it will automatically to onto the next image.

  • Johny Spencer

    Hi Arnold
    Smart collections as awesome too, Sometimes I just need to throw a quick folder of images in a collection that’s when I use the drag the drop method.

  • Johny Spencer

    Hi Debra
    Thats a great tip too. Like everything theres alway 5 ways to get the same result. I just like to have it enabled all the time ready to go.
    Thank you sharing.

  • Next Door Stories

    These were all really helpful! Great quick fixes to immediately improve workflow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Siva

    very helpful tips. Thank you!

  • Durwood

    How does one right click on a one piece wireless mouse. I cant get the drop down menu no matter how much i click…..and id really like solo,mode…..

  • Aleksei

    These tips are just awesome – I’ve been wondering how to do some of these things since forever!!!

  • Johny Spencer

    Glad you enjoyed the tips have a great day … Johny

  • Johny Spencer

    Hi Durwod
    If you on a mac hold down the control key then click to get the menu up.

    The other tip to get Solo mode on is to close all the sections in the panel by clicking on the disclosures triangles. Scroll to the bottom of the panel then right click.
    Hope this helps.

  • Durwood

    Thank you!

  • To clarify, shifted presses of any of the flag keys cause auto advance while unshifted ones do not. Caps lock simply reverses this, so shifted presses do not auto advance while shifted ones do, as long as caps lock is on.

  • geoffthekiwi

    Handy tips Johny… see you like our landscape !!!

  • Johny Spencer

    Hey Geoff glad you enjoyed he tips, I love NZ hope to make it back there in 2015. Johny

  • geoffthekiwi

    Let me know when but I’m heading back to Uganda at the end of April poor early May.
    BTW I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom and an Adobe Community Professional.
    I love how there are always new tricks/tips and new methods to learn from others and I’ve been involved with Lightroom since before 1.0

  • Rngrrik

    Durwood – If you are using a Magic Mouse on a Mac you can add the right click function by going to System Preferences, then Mouse, the Point & Click. Click on Secondary click and select “click on right side.

  • Durwood

    Thanks…..i managed to figure out!

  • Great article and great tips for faster LR workflow.

  • Amazing how a few little handy tips can help make things better. Thanks for sharing these tips, especially Solo Mode.

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