5 Tips That Will Save You Time in Lightroom 3

5 Tips That Will Save You Time in Lightroom 3

A Guest Post by Scott Williams.

Post processing is an important part of a photographer’s work and can be time consuming and overwhelming. The more time you spend behind a computer post processing, the less time you have to spend behind the camera. Luckily there are things you can do to streamline your post processing.

Adobe Lightroom 3 has a number of tools that you can take advantage of to dramatically cut down on your post processing time. In this article I will cover five tips that will save you time in Lightroom 3.

Tip # 1 – Copy and Paste Settings

Lightroom Copy and Paste Settings.jpg

Lightroom 3 allows you to copy the actions you performed on one photo and apply it to other photos. This comes in handy when you have a series of photographs that are very similar. I recently used the Copy and Paste Settings when post processing a series of dragonfly photographs, and I didn’t have to spend time editing each photo. I simply edited the first dragonfly photo in the series, and once I was satisfied with the result I went to Settings in the toolbar and selected Copy Settings. I then selected the next photo in the series and went back to Settings and this time clicked Paste Settings. The changes I made to the first dragonfly photo were applied to the second photo with a click of a button.


Tip # 2 – Presets

Presets in Lightroom 3.jpg

Presets are similar to Copy and Paste Settings but by using the preset option you can save your post processing process and apply it at a later date. When converting photographs to black and white I typically adjust the same settings. By creating a preset I can simply click on my black and white preset and all my saved adjustments are applied to the new photograph.

It is very easy to create and use presets. You make the necessary adjustments to the first photograph and once you are happy with the results click on New Preset which can be found in the Develop menu in the toolbar. Name the preset and click Create. You can also create a preset by clicking the + sign next to the preset menu on the far left. You can access your saved presets from the left preset menu under User Presets.

Tip #3 – Learning the Keyboard Shortcuts

Like most computer software programs, Adobe Lightroom 3 has built in keyboard shortcuts. Utilizing these shortcuts can save you a lot of time and energy. Moving your mouse around the screen takes time. A second here and there can add up to minutes or even hours over a long period of time. The shortcuts can be found next to the tasks you wish to perform in the drop down menus of the toolbar.

A few of my favorite shortcuts:

Ctrl Z – Undo
Ctrl Y – Redo
Crop – R
Ctrl –Shift – C –Copy Settings
Ctrl –Shift – V – Paste Settings

Tip #4 – Adding a Watermark

Watermark Example-1.JPG

Adding a watermark in Lightroom 3 is fast and easy. Creating a watermark takes place at the bottom of the Export pop-up menu. It is here you can create a custom watermark and apply it to your exported photo. Once you have created your custom watermark it is as simple as checking the watermark box before you export.

Lightroom 3 Export Menu.jpg

Tip #5 – After Export

After Export allows you to direct what action you want to take place after you have exported your photograph. This can be very beneficial if you plan to do further post processing in Adobe Photoshop or any other applications. I find it easier to clone out objects in Adobe Photoshop; therefore, when I need to use Photoshop I select the Open in Photoshop CS5 in the After Export box. After the photo is exported it then opens in Photoshop automatically. This cuts out having to open Photoshop and locate the folder you exported your photograph to.

This all happens at the bottom of the Export pop-up menu. You are able to select what action you want to take place after you export your photograph. You can also choose ‘Do Nothing’ if you are finished with the photo.


Post processing is an essential part of photography. These simple tips can cut your post processing time down and save you a lot of time in the long run.

About Scott WilliamsI am a self taught photographer that enjoys photographing the great outdoors. My photographs, tips and more can be found on my blog.

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Some Older Comments

  • Steve October 16, 2012 10:21 pm

    Many thanks for the tips, creating a LR preset once you've established a good look is a great time saving tool to have especially if you have a large batch of photos to edit

  • Ramond September 27, 2011 10:25 am

    Oops, meant left hand access...

  • Ramond September 27, 2011 10:24 am

    Hi, my first post here. Also, something to consider is a donation ware program called paddy:

    Im not affiliated with them, but have found their lightroom plugin to be very useful.
    "paddy" allows you to remap your shortcuts in lightroom and to make your own for almost every thing including buttons for moving sliders and choosing development tool sliders or even applying +5 exposure to a keyboard shortcut.. I use paddy in conjunction with a Logitech G13 gaming keypad, which gives me right hand access to 22 buttons, 3 distinct profiles, a thumb toggle (joystick, and 3 thumb buttons.. I can edit almost anything I need to with one hand and it makes things a lot easier. Hope it helps..

  • *Tom September 11, 2011 05:42 am

    Instead of learning LR shortcuts, why don't you use "CTRL + /"? It will show you all of them, and with time you will remember the ones you need anyway.

  • NCS August 27, 2011 02:49 am

    Thanks for the article.

    I think it's useful to write these basics down, because at the beginning a person (me included) works with everything, even if there is a faster way (like presets).

  • Jeremy August 27, 2011 02:16 am

    This feels like it was tossed out in five minutes. There's really very little in here that will save you much time, or that you wouldn't have figured out just by using lightroom a bit.

  • Alexander Rose August 24, 2011 05:13 am

    C'mon, is this article meant seriously?

  • Marek Mularczyk August 19, 2011 05:57 pm

    Great article, thanks for that!

    I loved it and I'm posting a link on my blog:


    All best,


  • ron August 18, 2011 02:56 am

    ...shakes his head...

    After export > Open in Photoshop...

    Like when you export the 500 photos from your latest shoot? Right...

    ...still shakes his head...

  • Thomas A. Wilson August 18, 2011 02:46 am

    I'm a HUGE fan of Lightroom and was lucky enough to discover these shortcuts early on in the learning process. There are lots of resources out there for presets and keyboard shortcuts, Get to digging around and be sure to create your own..

    I'll never touch Aperture again.

  • SJCT August 16, 2011 05:28 am

    Great tips. Thanks for the article.

    Just thought I'd note that I use the sync feature more than I use the copy function. I can sync multiple photos all at once instead of having to copy/paste for every single one that I want to apply the settings to.

  • Nina August 14, 2011 05:58 pm

    Thanx for a great article!
    I came across the several shortcuts of lightroom by mistake, and my two new favorite ones are pressing L to have the surroundings of your photo dim into gray if you press one, and totally become black if you press twice, screen comes back to normal at three times. my second favorite letter is I, which shows the information of the photo like aperture, shutter speed and ISO, lately since i am taking a lot of photos alternating between day and night, i found that reading those specs on the photos not only help me in the post-processing, but also keeps me more aware of what i need to keep my eye on when taking the photos, like changing ISO for example.
    as for the copy paste feature, i just use the button at the bottom left for copy, and go with the old ctrl+v for the rest!

    thank you again for a great post, lightroom is an all-time favorite of mine!

  • derek August 14, 2011 07:25 am

    very useful piece of software,I think the watermark feature is really cool
    other useful features include copy and paste and keyboard shortcuts are very handy.

  • Erik Unger August 14, 2011 03:21 am

    "Also, why would you export and then open in Photoshop?! You should right-click, edit in Photoshop and then it will save back into your Lightroom catalog"

    Perhaps for organizational purposes. I like to keep my RAW files in a separate folder from my TIFF/PSD files.

  • ljr69 August 13, 2011 12:23 am

    Another useful keyboard shortcut is 'G' which takes you immediately to the library in tiled view. And 'TAB' to hide and restore side panels.

    Also, why would you export and then open in Photoshop?! You should right-click, edit in Photoshop and then it will save back into your Lightroom catalog

  • Nan August 12, 2011 09:46 am

    Great tips! I just recently acquired Lightroom 3 and I LOVE it. My post work always gets piled up and it's helped a ton in moving along my workflow. Will definitely give these tips a try to see if I can move things along even faster.

    Nan King
    Benchmark Email Marketing Company

  • jon August 11, 2011 03:26 am

    Im learning that one of the main hazards of post processing is carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Mario K. August 11, 2011 02:57 am

    this (combined with auto-advance) is one of the best features of lightroom.

    Does anyone know a free photo editor that can do that?

  • Rick August 11, 2011 01:52 am

    Along with the keyboard shortcuts, I use X and P when I'm culling my photos to quickly move through the keepers and trashers.

  • Mario K. August 11, 2011 01:05 am

    Dear Scott,
    just two quick remarks you are probably already aware of:

    1) Applying adjustments to a series of photos is easier via the synchronize feature, rather than pasting to every individual picture

    2) If you know already that you want to edit a photo in PS, just rightlick and choose "edit in -> photoshop"


  • Kevin August 11, 2011 12:41 am

    How about a few others?

    CTRL + E: Opens the photo in Photoshop (or other photo editor)
    CTRL (and the ) + : zoom in
    CTRL (and the ) - : zoom out
    [ : decrease brush size
    ] : increase brush size

    the list goes on and on.....