How to Create a Simple Slideshow in Lightroom

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Slideshow module Lightroom

If you’re over a “certain” age, you remember creating slideshows for friends or family members to see. The viewing process required a projector and a screen, plus a darkened room to enable people to see the projected slides properly.

Thankfully, things have moved on since then and it’s now much easier to show your photos to an audience. The advent of laptop computers, social media, blogs and photo sharing websites has rendered the old style of slideshow redundant.

However, there’s still a place for the new style of slideshow – one viewed on a computer monitor, rather than a white screen. Lightroom users can create slideshows from within the program itself, using the Slideshow module, greatly simplifying the process.

In this article I’ll show you how to create a simple slideshow, and point out some of the more advanced customization features you may wish to explore.

First steps in the Slideshow module

It helps greatly if you create a new Collection for the photos you want to use in your slide show. Once you have done so, switch to the Slideshow module. You will see, depending on whether you have used it before, something like this.

Slideshow module Lightroom

Click the Create Saved Slideshow button at the top of the Content window. When you do so, Lightroom creates a new Slideshow Collection which is placed (by default) inside the original Collection. From this point on, any changes you make to your slideshow are automatically saved, and you can’t lose them.

Give your slideshow a name in the Create Slideshow window, and decide where to save it using the drop-down menu under Location. If you tick the Make new virtual copies box you will be able to edit Virtual Copies in the Slideshow Collection without affecting the originals.

Slideshow module Lightroom

Identity Plates

If you have created a custom Identity Plate then you may see it displayed in the top-left corner of your slide show, as several of Lightroom’s slideshow templates incorporate Identity Plates in their layout.

You can move the Identity Plate by clicking and dragging, or enlarge it by clicking on, and dragging the white squares around the edge. Now is probably a good time to point out that there are two types of personalized Identity Plates in Lightroom – Graphical and Styled Text Identity Plates.

While Graphical Identity Plates have their uses (mainly as a picturesque alternative to Lightroom’s default Identity Plate) you can’t enlarge them beyond their native size of 400 x 57 pixels without pixelating the graphics, making them nearly useless for incorporating into slideshows. Styled Text Identity Plates are much better as Lightroom simply scales them to the required size without any pixelation.

If you don’t want to include an Identity Plate in your slide show at all, go to the Overlays panel and untick the Identity Plate box. This is the simplest option, but if you wish you can create your own Styled Text Identity Plate by going to Lightroom > Identity Plate Setup (Mac) / Edit > Identity Plate (PC).

Slideshow module Lightroom

Previewing your slideshow

Opening the Slideshow module automatically creates a slideshow (yes, it’s as simple as that) and if you’re happy with the default settings you’re already done. To see what it looks like, click the Preview Slideshow button (the play icon) in the Toolbar. For maximum effect retract the top, bottom and side panels first (keyboard shortcut: Shift+Tab).

Slideshow module Lightroom

Customizing your slideshow

Now that you have seen the default slideshow in action, it’s time to take a look at how you can customize it.

The place to start is the Template Browser, located in the left-hand panels. There are five Lightroom Templates to choose from. They are fully customizable. The easiest way to design your slideshow is to choose the template that gets you closest to where you want to be, and then make the required adjustments from there.

Slideshow module Lightroom

For my slide show I chose the Crop to Fill template, which expands (and crops) the photos in the slide show to fill the entire screen.

Slideshow module Lightroom

Most of the templates have Text Cells. If you don’t want a Text Cell to appear in your slide show, simply click on it and press the Delete (Mac) / Backspace (PC) key on the keyboard to remove it.

Alternatively, you can edit the content of the text box by clicking on the Text Cell, then going to the Custom Text menu in the Toolbar and select Edit. This opens the Text Template Editor, where you can select what will be displayed in the Text Cell.

Slideshow module Lightroom

If you want to add a new Text Cell (for example, if you are using the Crop to Fill template, which has none) you can do so by clicking the ABC button in the Toolbar. Select Edit (or one of the presets) from the Custom Text menu. If you select Edit the Text Template Editor opens and you can choose what will appear in the Text Cell.

You can drag the Text Cell around the slideshow to position it, and adjust the size of the font by making the text box larger or smaller by dragging the corner or edge handles. Go to Text Overlays in the Overlays panel to set the font type, colour and opacity of the font in the active Text Cell.

Slideshow module Lightroom

Exporting slideshows

The easiest way to show someone a slideshow is to open Lightroom, go to the Slideshow Collection you wish to view and hit the Play button.

There are also times when you may need to export the slideshow in a format that is viewable by other people, such as a movie file. To do so, click the Export Video button underneath the left-hand panels. Exported videos are saved in the .MP4 format, which is compatible with many video players including Adobe Media Player, Apple Quicktime and Windows Media Player 12. The video includes music if it has has been added to the slideshow.

Slideshow module Lightroom

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you a good idea of what you can achieve in Lightroom’s Slideshow module. If you like what you’ve seen so far, take some time to explore the right hand panels, where you will discover more ways to customize the appearance of your slideshow.

What uses have you found for Lightroom’s Slideshow module? Is it powerful enough for your needs or do you prefer alternative software? Please let us know in the comments.


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Mastering Lightroom ebooksMy Mastering Lightroom ebooks will help you get the most out of Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5. They cover every aspect of the software from the Library module through to creating beautiful images in the Develop module and making photo books and slide shows. Click the link to learn more or buy.

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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He's an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom. Enroll in his new Lightroom course for free, or download his free Creative Fade Presets for Lightroom.

  • Keith Starkey

    Thanks much. I have extensive (and I do mean extensive!) notes on Lightroom, but I missed the Text Cell feature. Thanks again.

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  • You’re welcome Keith, glad it was useful.

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  • susu951

    Thank for the timely article. I recently created a small slide show in Lightroom (about 150 photos). When I went to export it I wasn’t sure which size to use. I want to show my photos on my television (I use Apple TV) and I chose the 1080p size. Well, it took almost 8 hours to download and I’m sure the file size is huge. What is the correct size to use for viewing slideshows on your TV and does it always take so long to generate. I’m using a Macbook Pro with 8GB of memory

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  • elle

    @andrewsgibson:disqus Could we get an answer to susu951? I would like more info on burning the video to disk/DVD to watch on TV also.

  • The time sounds about right given the number of photos in your slide show. You could try the 720p setting which is still good enough for TV and will cut the export time down somewhat. The other settings are designed for smaller screens.

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