5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks

Technology can be a wonderful thing. It saves us effort by automating repetitive tasks; makes us smarter by allowing us to tap into repositories of ideas; and frees our valuable time to be used on more productive and creative pursuits.

The senior woman struggling at computer

At least that is what we keep telling ourselves as we struggle to learn to take advantage of each new advancement in our technical lives.

Take Adobe Lightroom for example. When you look at all the rich functionality inside this one little application – and compare the way we work today with the “good old days” – it is easy to see how much time and effort is being saved.

But learning to take full advantage of the bells and whistles inside the application can seem more time consuming and daunting than the brute force way we have been doing it. So here are 5 Quick Tips and Tricks you can use to shorten that learning curve in Lightroom and allow you to jump-start your creative time.

Software menu item with help f1 command


Lightroom is chock full of time-saving shortcut keys that allow you to quickly perform most tasks without spending the effort to navigate through menu systems and options. But the options can be overwhelming when you are first looking to use them.

Fortunately, there is a shortcut to the shortcuts. When working anywhere in Lightroom, click “Control” (for windows) or “Command” for mac with “/” to shows all shortcuts keys available for use within the current mode. For example when you are working in the Library tab, or the Develop tab, CMD-/ will show you just the shortcuts to use within that environment.

You can click anywhere within the panel to dismiss the dialogue box and start taking advantage of your newfound knowledge.

Cropping guide

As stock photographers, we are all well versed in the composition Rule of 3rds. It is so popular that the guidelines used within Lightroom crop mode conform to the Rule of 3rds by default.

But you can change your composition style guides using – you guessed it – these shortcuts. In cropping mode (R), change cropping guides by pressing (O) to toggle between Rule of 3rds, Golden Ratio, Grid, Diagonal, Triangle, Golden Spiral and Aspect Ratio guidelines. Allowing you to easily have full control over the compositional style of your choice.

Merging photos for effect

Sometimes knowing about functionality ahead of time can help you better manage your photo shoot AND processing time. Lightroom makes it simple to merge photos to create HDR and Panoramic effects. Simply select the images within Lightroom and choose Photo – Photo Merge and create images using HDR or Panorama or even HDR Panorama (allowing you to shoot and process bracketed panned images effortlessly) without having to leave the application.

Just plug in


Sometimes the use of 3rd party plug-ins provides the productivity boost we need. I love working with NIK Filters for effects and an app called SnapHeal for editing within Photoshop. But fortunately for us, those same plug-ins are also available natively within Lightroom.

Navigate to File – Plug-in Manager to manage your plug-ins. If you have plug-ins you are currently working with, simply choose the Add button to navigate and install the application into Lightroom.

Then access the plug-ins under Photo – Edit In, where you also find access to Photoshop and Illustrator options.

Don’t have plug-ins but would like to see what is available. From the Plug-in Manager, choose Adobe Add ons to browse and download available apps.

Metadata Hashtags

Metadata management

One of the most time consuming portions of preparing our files to sell on Dreamstime.com is the entry and maintenance of metadata – those pesky titles, descriptions and all-important keywords that help customers find our files.

Again, Lightroom has some built in functionality that can help with that.

Many times we will work with groups of files from a single shoot that can share a little or a lot of the same metadata. Within the Library tab, selecting multiple images will allow you to enter keywords, etc. that will apply to all the files in the group. Then each individual file can be selected separately to allow for additional data to be entered or deleted customizing it for that specific image.

If you have entered metadata that could apply (with careful review and modifications) to more than one image within a set, navigate to the Library tab and find the Metadata menu choice. Choose Copy from the original image and select and choose Paste on the target ones. Dialogue boxes let you selectively choose what information you want to share.

There is even the option (within the Metadata menu) to Import/Export Keywords. Or to Create/Edit/Save/Apply metadata presets templates.

So while learning new functionality can seem like a chore up front, it is easy to see that taking the effort to learn a few tricks and tips can really be a time-saver in the long run.

Photo credits: Pedro Campos, Elnur, Eranicle, Ayse Ezgi Icmeli.

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