This is an excerpt from our new Lightroom Ebook that will be available next week thanks to Mosaic Archive. Don’t miss outré next Lightroom hangout either.

While presets are great, they might not get the job done.  It’s impossible for the Lightroom team to predict every need for every project (particularly with the rise in multimedia formats and web-connected devices).  Additionally, you may choose to crop to a particular size purely for aesthetic reasons.


Lightroom makes custom cropping easy.  You just need to decide if you need to crop to a specific custom size or prefer to take a more free-handed approach.

Step 1: Select an image for cropping.

Step 2: Choose the Crop Overlay tool by pressing the R key. An outline appears around the image with adjustment handles to modify the crop.

Step 3: You now have two choices.

  • Click to unlock the closed padlock.  This means that the crop tool is now unconstrained. You can freely crop to any custom ratio by dragging a handle.
    Custom Ratio
  • If you need specific size, click the pop-up menu next to the padlock and choose Enter Custom….  You can now enter custom sizes.  These sizes are appended to the bottom of the list. Ratios are entered in dimensions of width and height, but can be reversed as needed. Lightroom can store up to five presets.  When you make a sixth, the oldest will be dropped from the list.

Step 4: Drag a crop handle to crop the image.  You can also click to select the Crop Frame tool to freely position the crop.

Step 5: Press Return (or Enter) to apply the crop.  You can exit without cropping by pressing the Escape key.

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Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Adobe LR5 implementation of custom crop is rather buggy. If the user enters a custom crop ratio very close to a standard / predefined ratio, LR5 uses the later instead. For example, my photo lab uses 152mm x 102mm for 6×4 prints; I can’t use 152×102 ratio because LR5 rounds it to 6×4.

  2. What values should you enter for an anamorphic 2:35 crop? Thanks

  3. Any way to crop to an exact dimension like in Photoshop? or at least set a dimension limit? .e.g. limit size of crop box to no less than 3840 pixels across.

    • Sizing in Lightroom is handled by export dialog

      • Yes, as with PS an images resolution can be adjusted at time of export. I need to crop my images as tightly as possible so that they export 1:1. In this case, I need to export all images at a full 3840 pixels across – no less and with no enlargement. Many of the photos need to be zoomed via cropping at 16X9. I am looking for a way to set a cropping limit or a fixe crop as in PS such that I can easily prevent any cropping below 3840 pixels. Currently the only method I use is to turn info on and crop repeatedly until I get a value close but now below 3840 pixels – rather inefficient.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.




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