cover225x225Note: This post is from our book Develop Great Images in Lightroom (available on iBookstore & Scribd).

While cropping presets are great, they might not get the job done. Its 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.

  • cropClick to unlock the closed padlock. This means that the crop tool is means the crop tool is now unconstrained.
  • 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.

Custom RatioStep 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.