Adobe Lightroom Guide

A Beginner’s usage guide & tutorial to Adobe Lightroom to help you, tips designed to help through a few steps and learn more about it

By Claudio Pires
Updated on November 10, 2022
Adobe Lightroom Guide

If you are new to Adobe Lightroom and don’t know where to start or have thought about using it but feel overwhelmed, please know, I feel your pain and understand where you’re coming from. I wrote this Beginner’s Guide and usage tutorial to Adobe Lightroom to help you, and I wish I had had something like this when I first started. It’s designed to help you through a few basic steps, from opening Lightroom for the first time, making two basic edits, and exporting (saving) a final version of your picture.

Adobe Lightroom is an excellent tool for both professionals and amateurs. While photographers are the primary users of Lightroom, it has a few benefits for web designers as well. One of the main advantages of Lightroom is the ability to organize your entire photo library. As a web designer, you can use this to organize photos by clients.

Another benefit of Adobe Lightroom is that you can edit photos quickly and efficiently which is a significant time saver when working with hundreds of images you need to edit consistently.

If you’re starting with Lightroom, learning how to use it efficiently is a great way to improve and speed up your workflow. In this article, we’ll share 18 tips and tricks for Adobe Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom Guide

The tips shared here are suitable for beginners and those already familiar with Lightroom and will help you edit photos faster.

Learn Lightroom Shortcuts

Like every other Adobe application, Lightroom comes with numerous shortcuts. Learning shortcuts will save you hours and allow you to edit photos much faster.

Some of them we’ve already mentioned, but you can find even more shortcuts for each specific module by clicking Help > Module Name Shortcuts. Alternatively, press CMD / or CTRL / on your keyboard to access them.

Try Solo Mode: Adobe Lightroom Usage Guide & Tutorial

The next time you edit photos in Develop mode, right-click on any open panels and select Solo mode. With Solo mode enabled, the others will close whenever you open up a meeting. No more scrolling through endless boards to find the one you need!

Work With Smart Previews

You’ll love the Smart Previews feature if you store the photos on an external hard drive. The feature creates a smaller version of an image and allows you to keep editing it even if you disconnect the hard drive. It also helps improve Lightroom’s performance because Smart Previews are smaller files than original photos.

To enable Smart Previews, go to Preferences > Performance. Then, check the box next to Use Smart Previews instead of Originals for image editing.

Compare Photos in Survey Mode

If your client handed you an extensive collection of similar photos for their website, Survey Mode could help you pick the best ones. Highlight all of the images and hit the N key on your keyboard. You’ll be able to compare them side by side and decide which ones are worth keeping.

Make Use of Presets

Lightroom presets allow you to significantly speed up your workflow by applying the same set of styles to each photo. You can find hundreds of free and paid presets online and create your own.

If you want to be even more efficient, consider grouping presets together based on what they do. For example, you can group several presets together that control brightness and saturation and have a different group for presets that control sharpness, lens correction, and more. To group presets together, drag and drop them onto the Presets panel.

Create Your Own Presets and Apply Them During Import

Speaking of presets, if you already have an established workflow, you can turn those edits into a preset of your own. You must edit a photo and click the + icon in the Presets panel. On the window that shows up, check all the settings you want to include, name the preset, and hit the OK button. You can then right-click that preset and select Apply on Import.

Use CAPS LOCK to Auto-Advance Photos After Adding Metadata

You can quickly add metadata to your photos in the Library module using keyboard shortcuts. P and X keys will allow you to flag photos as Pick or Reject, and using numbers enables you to add stars and flags for better organization. Paired with the CAPS LOCK key, Lightroom will automatically advance to the next photo after you’ve flagged the current picture and added the desired metadata.

Organize Your Workspace: Adobe Lightroom Usage Guide & Tutorial

Organize Your Workspace
Adobe Lightroom Guide

By default, Lightroom has several modules enabled at the top-right of the screen. The modules include Library, Develop, Book, Slideshow, Map, and others, but chances are you won’t need them all the time. Right-click on any module names and uncheck the ones you don’t want to see. This will help you switch between the modules quickly without wasting time.

Quickly Reset the Sliders

If you do not like the result after working with various sliders, you don’t have to move them back to zero manually. Double-click the slider name, and it will reset to the default value. You can also hold down the ALT key to change the slider’s name into a reset link.

Setup Watermarks: Adobe Lightroom Usage Guide & Tutorial

If your client wants their watermark on the photos, you can easily add one in Lightroom. To do this, click on Lightroom > Edit Watermarks. On the screen that loads, you’ll be able to apply an image or set a text watermark. You can also adjust the opacity and control the position of the watermark.

Apply Settings From One Photo to Others in Your Catalog

Once you’ve finished editing an image, you can apply those changes and settings even if you haven’t created a preset yet. Select your edited photo and highlight all the other pictures in your catalog. Click the Sync button. A window will open where you can select specific settings that you want to apply to the rest of the images. Click Synchronize, and the changes will be instantly applied.

Use Lights Out Mode to Focus

If you want to focus on an image and ensure you’re not going too far with your edits, hit the L key on your keyboard. The rest of the screen will dim, bringing your image into focus so you can see what you’re doing. You can completely black out Lightroom’s screen by clicking the L key again and reset it back to normal by clicking it a third time.

Make Use of Smart Collections

We’ve already mentioned that Lightroom is a great way to organize photos. You’ll see folders organized by months and years in your Collections panel. However, you can create innovative collections based on your preferences.

First, ensure you are in the Library module and click the + key in the Collections panel. Choose to Create a Smart Collection. A dialogue box will appear where you can set your rules based on rating, flags, image size, the date is taken, and more.

When you have defined all the rules, click Create. You can use this to organize client photos, my projects, and your personal and professional photos.

Continue Editing in Photoshop

You can continue editing a photo in Photoshop if you need to apply more advanced manipulations. Click Photo > Edit in > Adobe Photoshop. You can also right-click the image and select Edit in > Edit in Adobe Photoshop.

You can import the photo as a bright object, as layers, and more. Once you’ve selected how you want to import the image, Lightroom will ask you if you will edit the photo with or without changes made in Lightroom.

After you have selected the desired options, the current photo will open up in Photoshop. Make the necessary adjustments save the changes, and they will be reflected in Lightroom.

Improve Lightroom’s Performance: Adobe Lightroom Usage Guide & Tutorial

Aside from using Smart Previews, you can try a few other tweaks if you find Lightroom becoming a bit sluggish. Go to Preferences > Performance and do the following:

  • Uncheck Use graphics processor
  • Optimize your catalog
  • Increase the Camera Raw cache size to 20GB or higher

Export Photos as Galleries

After modifying the photos, you can export them as a web gallery. To do this, go to the Web module and choose a template. You can download additional gallery templates online if you don’t see one that you like.

On the right-hand side, you can set the copyright information and enter the FTP information to automatically upload the gallery to your or your client’s site.

Synchronize Photos Between Adobe Lightroom and WordPress

Using a plugin like WP/LR Sync, you can sync your Lightroom library, keywords, and metadata with your WordPress site. Any changes you make in Lightroom will instantly be visible on your blog, and you can even link your previously imported images to Lightroom. Keep in mind you will also need to download the corresponding Lightroom plugin.

Save Time By Applying Presets on Import

As our last tip, you can do much with your photos during the import process. Once you’ve selected all the images you want to edit, you can rename them, specify where they should go, apply presets, and more.

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Lightroom?

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Lightroom

The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width and height of a photo. Digital cameras use a standard aspect ratio of 3:2. However, sometimes, you may want to print, frame, and change the aspect ratio.

Fortunately, Lightroom provides an easy way to change the aspect ratio when cropping an image. You can choose from a variety of ratios or create your custom ratios.

To learn more, check out the full article at the link above.

Master contrast and tone controls in the Lightroom Develop module?

Master Contrast and Tone Controls in the Lightroom Develop Module

Under the development module on the right, you’ll find the tone controls.

This is the local adjustment panel. It’s one of the tools you often use when editing in Lightroom.

The default tone controls are exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. Using the slider takes some practice. But once you get the hang of them, they are incredible tools.

Read the full article above for a detailed description of these local customizations. It will help you get the most out of your photography in Lightroom.

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.