Eight Lightroom Classic Hidden Tricks You (Probably) Didn’t Know

by Andrew S. Gibson
Eight Lightroom Classic Hidden Tricks You (Probably) Didn't Know

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No matter how well you know your way around Lightroom Classic there always seems to be more to learn. There are lots of hidden tricks and secrets that make Lightroom Classic even more useful and easy to use once you know them. With that in mind I thought it would be fun to put together a short list of some of the hidden tricks that you probably don’t know, but should. Let’s dive in and see what they are.

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #1: Make the Develop module sliders longer

Did you know that you can pull out the right-hand panels to make them wider? The benefit is that it makes the Develop module sliders wider, which helps you make more precise adjustments (it works in the other modules as well).

Move the mouse over the left edge of the right-hand panels, until you see the icon marked below. Then hold the left mouse button down and drag the mouse to the left.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Here you can see the difference between the regular width (left) and the wider width you can set (right). This is especially helpful on larger monitors and works in reverse with the left-hand panels as well.

Lightroom hidden tricks

If you have a Mac you can make the right-hand panels even wider by holding the Alt key down when you click and drag. This trick only works in the Develop module.

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #2: Enable Auto Advance with Caps Lock

One of Lightroom Classic’s strengths it that it makes it easy to view and edit your images – that is, editing in the sense of deciding which photos you want to keep and develop in the Develop module.

This is not difficult if you are, say, a landscape photographer who uses long exposure techniques and ends up with less than ten photos from a shoot. In this case, it’s easy to select the best images and you don’t need much help.

But imagine that you’re a wedding photographer who takes thousands of photos during a single wedding. This photographer needs all the help he can get!

The easiest way to sort through a large set of photos is to enable Auto Advance (you can do this by going to Photo > Auto Advance).

But it’s even quicker using a keyboard shortcut. Just set Caps Lock to on to enable Auto Advance, and off to disable it. Most keyboards have a light that indicates when Caps Lock is on, so it’s easy to see at a glance if Auto Advance is enabled.

Lightroom hidden tricks

With Auto Advance enabled, press E to enter Loupe View or use the F keyboard shortcut to enter full screen mode (the screen shots below show the difference). Every time you press nearly any key Lightroom Classic automatically advances to the next photo. One notable exception is the Space bar, which zooms in and out of the current photo instead.

Loupe View: Loupe View lets you set up a screen something like this (see below), with the Filmstrip at the bottom and the photo in the center (you have to hide the side panels yourself). This lets you see how the current photo fits into the sequence.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Full screen: Full screen displays the current photo and nothing else. It gives you the best view of your images (below).

Lightroom hidden tricks

Here are a couple of ways you can use Auto Advance.

1. If you use flags to select photos, press P to flag the current photo as a pick, X to set it as a reject, or the right arrow to advance to the next one.

2. If you use star ratings, use the 1,2,3,4 or 5 keys to apply a rating, the 0 key to set it to zero, or the right arrow key to advance to the next photo.

Press F or Esc to exit full screen mode when you’re done.

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #3: Rotate the Crop Overlay

If you’ve ever tried to make a portrait crop from a landscape image you’ll have experienced the frustration of trying to rotate the Crop Overlay.

Use the R key shortcut to go straight to the Crop Overlay. Lightroom Classic automatically gives it the same orientation as the photo, with no immediately obvious way of rotating it. To do so, simply press X.

Below: By default Lightroom Classic gives the Crop Overlay the same size and orientation as the original photo.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Below: Press X to rotate the Crop Overlay and make an extreme crop.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #4: Resample the Spot Removal Tool

The frustrating thing about the Spot Removal Tool (which you can activate using the Q key shortcut) is that Lightroom Classic is not as good as you might think at guessing which part of the image it should sample in order to heal the selected area.

If you don’t like the result you can click and drag the sampled area to another part of the image. But did you know that you can also press the backslash (/) key to tell Lightroom Classic to choose a different area to sample? Repeat as often as you like until you get the desired result.

In this example I wanted to get rid of the bright blob in the background (circled below) because it’s a distraction.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Lightroom Classic’s first guess didn’t work.

Lightroom hidden tricks

But the second one is much better.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #5: Automatic White and Black points

There are a couple of hidden Lightroom Classic tricks here that you may not know about. The first is that if you double-click on the Whites and Blacks sliders in the Basic panel (that is, on the words themselves, rather than the sliders) Lightroom Classic resets them to zero. This is a handy shortcut that saves you time resetting sliders (it applies to most of the other Basic panel sliders as well).

Here’s the other hidden trick. If you hold the Shift key down while you double-click the sliders, Lightroom Classic calculates the best settings, working out where to position both sliders so that the histogram stretches all the way from the left side of the graph (shadows) to the right (highlights) without any gaps. This quick fix makes most photos look better right away.

This technique works with the other Basic Panel sliders, but it’s most useful with the Whites and Blacks sliders as it’s the quickest way of finding the image’s white and black points.

Below: Double-click the Whites and Blacks sliders while holding the Shift key down. Make sure you double-click the words and not the slider itself. If the slider stays at zero, it means Lightroom Classic thinks this is the best setting.

Lightroom hidden tricks

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #6: Flip a Graduated Filter

Did you know that you can use the apostrophe key to flip (invert) a Graduated Filter? Now why would you want to flip a Graduated Filter, you ask? Let me give you a practical example.

1. Create a Graduated Filter over the sky of a landscape image. Here’s another hidden trick for you – if you hold the Shift key down Lightroom Classic keeps the Graduated Filter straight. Now move the Highlights slider left to darken the sky (in some situations the Exposure slider might work better).

Lightroom hidden tricks

2. Right-click on the Graduated Filter’s pin and select Duplicate. This creates a new Graduated Filter with exactly the same settings as the first.

Lightroom hidden tricks

3. Press the apostrophe key to flip the Graduated Filter. Now the minus Exposure setting is applied to the foreground. I’m betting you don’t want to make the foreground darker, so double-click the Highlights slider to return it to zero. Now you’re ready to use this new Graduated Filter to enhance the foreground.

Lightroom hidden tricks

4. Move the Clarity slider right to emphasize the texture in the foreground. You may also need to move the Shadows slider right if this darkens the foreground too much.

Lightroom hidden tricks

The net result is that you have applied two Graduated Filters, one to the sky, and the other to the foreground. Here are the before and after versions so you can see the result.

Lightroom hidden tricks
Lightroom hidden tricks

Bonus hidden trick: The apostrophe shortcut also inverts Radial filters.

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #7: Resize the Spot Removal tool brush

Here’s another Spot Removal tool trick. You probably already know that you can resize the Spot Removal tool brush by using the ‘[‘ (smaller) and ‘]’ (larger) keyboard shortcuts. You can also use the scroll wheel on a mouse. But did you know that there’s an even quicker way of resizing the brush? On a Mac, hold down the Option and Command keys at the same time, and click and drag to make the brush size as big as you need it (a little bigger than the area to be healed is ideal). On a Windows PC, use the Alt and Control keys.

Hidden Lightroom Classic Trick #8: Formatting text in the Print module

Many photographers like to add text to their prints, like a title below a set of photos that you put together in the Print module. But the only way you can do it is to use the Identity Plate. The Identity Plate Editor lets you type a few words and select the font type and size, but it doesn’t let you adjust features beloved by graphic designers such as leading and kerning. This is frustrating to say the least if you appreciate good design and typography.

This hidden trick gives you an easy workaround. Open any text editing application and type in the words you want to add to your print. Use the editor’s built-in tools to apply tracking (the space between letters) and other typography tricks. You can also use the Horizontal Type Tool in Photoshop (open the Character panel to access the typography settings) or the type tools in InDesign if you have it. When you’re done, copy the text, go back to the Identity Plate Editor in Lightroom Classic, click in the text field and paste it there. Click OK and you’re done – the text keeps the formatting that you applied to it.

The screenshots below shows the difference it makes. The first one shows the type applied by the Identity Plate, the second uses type that I created in TextEdit, the basic text editing app on my Mac.

Hidden Lightroom Classic trick
Hidden Lightroom Classic trick

The tips and tricks in this article are not really hidden, they’re just hard to find. But once you know them the process of using Lightroom Classic becomes much easier and quicker. Of course, if you have any interesting tips of your own I’d love to hear about them, so please let me know about them in the comments.

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