Lightroom is my favorite post-processing software. If you are familiar with it, it’s quite likely that you’ve come across several of the tricks you can use to speed up your workflow. But there might be some that you are not yet aware of.
If you are anything like me you’re always searching for ways to improve your editing process and getting more efficient and fast when it comes to post-processing your photos. The less time you spend editing, the more time you have to get out and take amazing photos.
Let’s go through some of the most popular, powerful, and useful Lightroom tricks that are sure to come in handy!
Related: How to Export Photos in Lightroom
#1 Lights Out Mode
Let’s start with my favorite. When your editing a photo in Lightroom, if you want to see your progress and just to focus on the image that you’re working on, without getting distracted by the Lightroom User Interface you can use Lights Out mode.
All you have to do is press ‘L’ on your keyboard. Doing so will dim out the area surrounding the image, leaving your image in focus. Pressing ‘L’ once again will result in the area surrounding the photo completely blackout.
If you want to get the original view back, you will have to hit ‘L’ for the third time to reset it. I use it very often to see how my photos look and in combination with the next one, the before/after quick button.
#2 Quick Before/After View
You can use the quick before after in Lightroom to compare the unedited photo with your current progress. As I said, I like to use it in lights out mode to not be distracted by the UI.
You can use the classic before/after in the bottom/left corner of the Develop panel, which will put the unedited photo and your current edit side-by-side. I find it so much better to quickly switch between my edit and the original image by pressing the backslash key (/) on the keyboard.
This gives me a better idea if I’m overdoing it or where to keep tweaking the photo.
#3 Quick Auto Tone
One of the most underrated Lightroom features. Quick Auto Tone is an excellent place to start off when editing your image. If you haven’t decided on a particular direction that you want to take with respect to the editing, this option can speed up your editing workflow by a huge margin.
With a simple click, your image will be edited by Lightroom based on how the software’s algorithm “thinks” the image would look best. The Auto Tone button, is located in the Basic menu of the Develop panel.
After clicking it use the quick before/after to see how the image changed and use it as a starting point for your edit.
#4 Lightroom Tricks: Solo Mode
Solo Mode allows you to keep only one menu at a time open while editing in the Develop panel.
When you think your post-processing workflow is as efficient as it can get, think twice if you don’t know about solo mode. Keep scrolling through the menus to find the one you need can be a complete waste of time.
So, the goal here is to have only the menu you’re using open, and all the other one closed or collapsed I should say. Just right click on the menu name, let’s say the Tone Curve menu, and activate Solo Mode.
From now on, every time you click on a menu to expand it, all the other ones on the same column will collapse so that not only you can focus on what you’re doing, but it will be super easy to find the next menu when you need it.
#5 Lightroom Identity Plate
Alright, this won’t exactly make your workflow more efficient, but I like to mention it because it’s cool and not a lot of people know about it.
You can upload your logo or customize your name in the top left corner of Lightroom, just go to Ligthroom Classic > Identity Plate Setup.
When the Identity Plate Editor opens, select Personalized and Use a graphical idendity plate. You can now upload your logo and have your branded version of Lightroom which will make you look super professional!
#6 The Alt/Option Key
Here is a trick that is hidden in plain sight. The Alt/Option key has such incredible functionality that it is a wonder that it’s missed by most people. Here is a feature that you can access with just this one key!
Expanding the Quick Develop Panel: If you hold down the Alt/Option key, you will be able to toggle the Quick Develop Panel. You can now adjust the sharpening as well as the saturation without ever having to enter the Develop module!
#7 Smart Previews
Smart previews in Lightroom can speed-up your workflow by a lot. Smart previews are smaller versions of your RAW files that allow you to edit your photos even if you don’t have the RAW file available.
Since the best way to store your photos is by using an external hard drive, it can happen that your files aren’t available all the time, since you might need to edit while you’re traveling for example.
Smart previews are very small versions of the main file, they have been introduced in Lightroom so that you can create these mini files that you can take with you if you want to leave your hard drive at home and still be able to work on your editing while you’re not at home.
Another benefit of using smart previews is that your Lightroom will run much faster when working with them. The reason why they’re called smart is that when you then reconnect your laptop to your hard drive, your main RAW files are automatically updated.
#8 Improve Lightroom Performance
Speaking of Lightroom performance, one of the most annoying things when working on big libraries and big files is that your laptop or desktop computer can slow down and make you waste a lot of time. As we’ve seen using Smart Previews is one of the ways to have a faster Lightroom.
But there are also other tricks you can do to improve Lithgroom performance without upgrading your hardware:
- Change Graphics driver: If you are using a computer with integrated graphics, go to Preferences > Performance, and turn ‘Use Graphics Processor’ off. It has been reported by several users that they notice slower performance if that setting is turned on.
- Increase Cache: By default Camera Raw Cache is set to 1 or 5GB. The cache is a quick memory that Lightroom accesses to work on your photos. A bigger cache size will allow the software to go through your photos quicker. Go to Preferences > Performance, and increase the size of Camera Raw Cache by a significant amount. Generally, 20 GB is good enough.
- Optimize Your Catalog: the Lightroom catalog is an index of your files and adjustments you’ve made. The catalog can become big and heavy quickly, so it is best practice to keep it well maintained. You can do this by regularly going to File > Optimize Catalog and running it. The software will go through the catalog and do its cleaning.
#9 Lightroom Tricks: Fade Lightroom Presets
There are several presets that you might enjoy using, but you may find yourself in a situation where the preset applied is a bit too strong. It would be great if the same preset could be applied, but with a slightly lower intensity. In fact, quite analogous to how you can dim down a layer in Photoshop. Well, this is certainly possible! You will have to use a Lightroom plugin called ‘The Fader’. You can download it and then install it by going to File > Plug-In Manager.
Related: Capture One vs Lightroom
While Lightroom is a fairly lightweight, and simple tool to use, having a few handy tricks up your sleeve can greatly enhance your experience. You can quicken your workflow, and enjoy several conveniences that just make using the tool easy. We hope that his article has helped you add to your knowledge of Lightroom.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.