The Library module is really the hub of your Lightroom experience as file management tasks, such as making selects, deleting rejects, batch processing, applying keywords, organizing into collections, renaming, applying metadata, and so on, take up a lot of our workflow. The Library module has four (not counting People, which is for another day) different views—Grid, Loupe, Compare and Survey—and each one is designed to make some aspect of that workflow a little easier. You can move very fluidly between each one using shortcuts (preferred), choosing them from the View menu, or by clicking their relevant icons in the Toolbar. Note, if your Toolbar is missing just press the T key to bring it back. On the subject of the Toolbar, you should also keep in mind that the available tools that appear there will change based on the view you are currently in, and you can control which tools are showing by clicking the drop-down arrow on the far-right end of the Toolbar.
As you hover your cursor over each view’s icon a tooltip appears displaying its name and its keyboard shortcut. You’ll use Grid view and loupE (note the E at the end) view most often, and their respective shortcuts G and E are easy enough to remember. Those shortcuts also work from anywhere within Lightroom to whisk you right back to the Library module (for me, G means Go to Library). Compare view’s shortcut is C, which is not a surprise, but for whatever reason Survey view got stuck with N (go figure). Compare and Survey view shortcuts only work within the Library module. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use each view to your best advantage.
Your go-to view is going to be Grid view. It is the easiest way to see and work with an entire folder or collection full of images, and it is the default view when you first import a new set of photos. Seeing that grid of thumbnails makes it a snap to perform batch operations, such as applying a preset via the Quick Develop panel to a group of selected images, selecting all photos in a folder for renaming (via the Library > Rename menu), or applying keywords, flags, color labels, or star ratings (and so much more). You can increase or decrease the size of the Grid view thumbnails via the slider on the Toolbar or by pressing the + or – keys respectively.
Because Grid view is designed for viewing and working with large numbers of photos at once there are certain tools that only appear in Grid view. The first is the Library Filter bar, which appears above the thumbnail grid, and it is used to filter the current view by a wide range of criteria. The second is the Painter Tool (the spray can icon in the Toolbar) that is useful for “spraying” anything from keywords to develop presets onto your photos by clicking and dragging the tool over the grid.
Here’s a few tips for working in Grid. You can select all photos in Grid view by pressing CMD+A (PC: Ctrl+A). You can select a contiguous group of photos by selecting the first photo, then hold the Shift key and select the last. To select a non-contiguous batch of photos just hold the CMD key (PC: Ctrl) while you click each thumbnail. If you want to change the way the thumbnails are sorted you can use the Sort menu in the Toolbar or from the View > Sort menu. To manually create a sort order you need to work from within a single folder or regular collection (not a smart collection), then click and drag each photo into the desired order (remember, you can’t get fingerprints on these thumbnails so click the center of the photo to drag and drop, not the border). Those tips work in the Filmstrip as well, which is visible in all views.
When you need to see a larger version of an image you’ll head into Loupe view. Double-clicking a thumbnail in Grid view will automatically switch you to Loupe view, but you can also use the shortcut E. By default, when you first enter Loupe view you’ll see it at Fit zoom level where the entire photo is visible, but one more click of the photo will zoom you in to 1:1 or 100% view. These zoom levels are controlled by the Navigator panel in the top-left, the View > Zoom menu, or the Zoom control on the Toolbar. When zoomed in greater than Fit level you can pan around the photo by clicking and dragging the photo itself or by clicking and dragging within the Navigator panel.
Here’s a pro tip, when in Grid view and you want to quickly zoom to 1:1 view to check focus, just press and hold the Z key and you’ll zoom straight to 100% in Loupe (press the Spacebar to pan around). When you are done viewing at 1:1 release the Z key and you’ll zoom back to Grid view again.
A very important distinction to make when you are working in Loupe view is that even though you can select multiple images via the Filmstrip (or have multiple photos selected from when you were in Grid view) the actions you perform via the Library module panels are only applied to the most selected photo you are viewing in the Loupe view. For example, if you have two photos selected in Grid view and apply a keyword to one of them the keyword is actually added to both selected photos. However, in Loupe view the keyword will only be applied to the most selected photo and not any other.