Did you know Lightroom has a secret weapon you’ve probably never heard of? Yep. And its kind of a big deal. The irony is its actually a very simple secret – But like many of the secrets in Adobe Lightroom, the simple things are often the most powerful. Its nothing complicated, just one key on your keyboard that you probably even used before.
Its the Alt/Option key.
The Alt/Option key is pretty much the dark horse in side Lightroom, hidden in plain sight, and ready to bring you tools you didn’t even know Lightroom had at its disposal.
Lets dive in together and look at 16 hidden features in Lightroom brought to life by the Alt/Option key!
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ALT/OPTION TO EXPAND THE QUICK DEVELOP PANEL
The quick develop panel is actually a lightroom secret all by itself – Or at the very least an incredibly underused and powerful tool for batch editing images. But you can make the quick develop panel even more capable. Holding the alt/option key toggles the hidden lightroom feature to adjust saturation and sharpening, without having to head into the develop module.
ALT/OPTION TO ASSIGN KEYWORDS WITH LIGHTNING SPEED!
There is one more lightroom secret hidden in the Library Panel that you’ve probably never used. Its quick keywording. Holding alt/option with the keyword panel open enables you to quickly assign keywords to an image using the number keys on your keyboard. For those of you with large image banks and organization needs, this will rock your entire world.
LIGHTROOM SECRET TRICK #3
ALT/OPTION TO TURN ON/OFF SOLO MODE
If you’re working on a laptop or smaller display size, or if you just don’t like having to scroll from section to section in your sidebars, SOLO Mode will bring a smile to your face and save you a lot of extra work. Solo mode in lightroom might not be a huge lightroom secret, but there are still a lot of people who have never heard of it. When solo mode is enabled, lightroom will only keep one sidebar tool open at a time, and automatically toggle the others closed as you switch from tool to tool. This can actually add up to saving you a TON of time cycling between different tools.
To enable solo mode, hold the alt/option key while expanding any sidebar tool. (You’ll know you’re in solo mode when the triangles switch from solid to dotted.) Test it out by opening a couple of different tools. If you want to switch back, hold alt/option again while opening/closing any tool.
LIGHTROOM TRICKS #4
ALT/OPTION TO RESET A PANEL
This might be the most used alt/option feature in our arsenal – Simply because there are an unreal number of times while editing a session where you want to reset a panel, and having to do it manually adds a lot of time to your lightroom workflow. Especially if you want to reset something like the HSL panel, with about 100 different sliders to double click one at a time! Not something any of us look forward to. Enter the Alt Option key. Simply hold and watch as a terrifically helpful “Reset Settings” button pops up above the panel. One click and you’re all set.
FINE TUNE CURVE ADJUSTMENTS
For those of you who make use of the curves panel in Lightroom (And everybody SHOULD!) You know how finicky it can be trying to adjust the curves in such a tiny little box, especially on a laptop screen! Holding alt/option while making adjustments brings down the sensitivity of your mouse/curser, so that you can make more fine tuned movements in the curves panel. For butter fingers like myself, this is a lightroom tip to appreciate.
ASSIGN CAMERA DEFAULTS
Lets say you shoot on a Canon, while your partner shoots with Sony. Both outstanding cameras in their own right, but with slightly different color science and looks straight out of camera that require 2 different edit adjustments to match. Well using Lightroom’s camera defaults, you can have Lightroom automatically apply certain settings to any files from a particular camera type. Simply holding the alt option key reveals this button in the bottom right corner of the lightroom develop module.
LIGHTROOM EDITING SECRET TRICK #7
VISUALISE SPLIT TONING
Split toning is a powerful creative feature of Lightroom which you can use either to correct a color cast, or to add your own creative vibe to an image. But sometimes it can be a little tedious and challenging trying to see what color you’re adding / how its affecting your image. Alt/option secret #7 lets you see EXACTLY what’s going on when in the Split Toning section of Lightroom. Holding the Alt/Option key while adjusting the hue of your shadows or your highlights will display the color at 100% saturation, making it far easier to dial in. When you let go, the saturation returns to your previous setting.
LIGHTROOM SECRET TRICK #8
ALT/OPTION FOR CENTRED CROP
Normally cropping an image involves first cropping and then dragging your crop to line up the image the way you like. Holding alt/option in Lightroom sets you free from this tedious task, and will automatically centre your crop. This little known lightroom feature is a huge help.
LIGHTROOM TRICKS | SECRET FEATURE #9
QUICKLY DELETE SPOT REMOVAL EDITS
This one isn’t a huge lightroom shortcut like some of the others, but it still saves a couple of seconds. And a couple of seconds saved per photo when you’re editing a thousand photos adds up to 33 minutes, which is a nice extra long lunch in exchange. Holding alt/option in the spot removal tool pulls up a scissor icon, and enables you to delete previous spot edits simply by clicking them, rather than first selecting, then clicking delete.
ALT/OPTION TO INVERT YOUR GRADUATED FILTER
This one is pretty cool. Simply hold alt/option and drag your gradient to invert it onto the other side of your image.
ALT/OPTION TO ADJUST INTENSITY OF YOUR GRADUATED FILTER
Not having to adjust your effect manually to trim back the intensity or add extra intensity is extremely useful and time saving. Hold alt/option and select the center dot of your graduated filter. Click it and then drag right to intensify the settings, or left to lessen them.
ALT/OPTION TO ADJUST INTENSITY OF YOUR RADIAL FILTER
Being able to vary the intensity of your radial filters with one click is also extremely handy! Use the same process as with a graduated filter – Hold alt/option and select the center dot. Click it and then drag right to intensify the settings, or left to lessen.
LIGHTROOM UNKNOWN FEATURES / TRICKS #14
ALT/OPTION TO TOGGLE ERASER WITH ADJUSTMENT BRUSH TOOL
Once you start using this Lightroom hidden feature you’ll realize its a pretty big deal. Having to move your brush off the image to the edge of your screen to switch between the paint brush and eraser is time consuming. Simply hold alt/option and your brush will magically switch to an eraser… Its a little like holding a pencil and flipping it upside down!
QUICKLY VISUALIZE BLOWN OUT HIGHLIGHTS
This is a super useful Lightroom tip. Blown out highlights are any areas of your images where detail is being lost / pure white. Ideally, this doesn’t happen, but its pretty much impossible to tell with the naked eye. Holding alt/option while dragging the exposure, contrast, highlights or whites in your basic tone settings will show you visually if any areas of the image are too bright / white.
VISUALIZE SHARPENING + NOISE REDUCTION
Sharpening and Noise Reduction in Lightroom is definitely an art. You want your image to be crisp and detailed, but you also don’t want it to look weird or unnatural. And find tuning your settings can be tricky as its often hard to see whats actually going on when you tweak certain sliders. Our last hidden lightroom feature is by no means the least, as holding alt/option while dragging any of the sharpening or noise reduction sliders will show you visually exactly which areas of the image are being affected, and by how much. Using this in noise reduction lets you make sure you’re not sacrificing too much detail in the midst of your battle with camera noise.
We’ve shared our 16 Hidden Lightroom Tricks – How many did YOU know?! Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
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