Editor’s Note: We’d like to officially welcome Zach Sutton to the Photofocus authors team. Zach is a photographer and educator who specializes in portrait, wedding and commercial photography.

Over the last few years, Adobe Lightroom has become a major tool for photographers to help drastically speed up their workflow. When done right, Lightroom can removed the daunting feeling of spending hours in front of the computer. But how do we maximize the tools in Lightroom to revolutionize how we approach retouching?

Perhaps the biggest shortfall of Lightroom is when starting it for the first time, it’s overwhelming. With sliders, buttons and dropdowns scattered everywhere, Lightroom can scare away even the most tech savvy of photographers. However, upon playing around with it, you can find a lot of really amazing tools within their Raw editor. So what keyboard shortcuts do you need to know to speed up your workflow?

Rating SystemsLightroom-Filters

Easily the most used tool in Lightroom is the rating features. Many photographers still prefer Adobe Photoshop, and only use Lightroom as a great culling system. However, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts for rating images, so speed that process along even further.


Rating images in Lightroom is easy, to give an image a 1 star rating, you simply press 1 on your keyboard, for 2, you press 2, and so on up until 5. However, 6-9 also give you a particular set of rating tools as well, specifically their color ratings. Red is 6, Yellow 7, Green 8, and upwards through Blue, Purple, White and Grey. Rating images allows you to sort by rating, and quickly finding your favorite images.

Shift + 1-9

Using the Shift key alongside rating images allows you to both rate the image, and advance to the next one if in Library mode. This can remove the keystroke of right, which can shave off some additional time in the culling process.


If you’re using metadata tags for your photos (which you should), you can use the responsive search feature within Lightroom to better find your photos by pressing Ctrl + F. How I use search is simply, for all the photos that I plan on using for my portfolio, I tag with the keyword “portfolio”. When I am contacted by someone, or need to show off my best work quickly, I can simply search my catalog using the search terms, and quickly find the best photos from a specific duration of time. This simple organization allows me to quickly find what I need when in a pinch.

Copy/Paste Develop Settings

Certainly you’ve ran into this problem before. You spend time, making adjustments to a photo, then spend the next few minutes figuring out how to make those same adjustments to a selection of photos. Sure this can be done by fumbling your way through a massive list generated by right clicks, but it can also be done using basic keyboard shortcuts. To copy development settings, use Ctrl + Shift + C, and to paste these settings onto a new image, use Ctrl + Shift + V.

Before & After

Personally, I use Lightroom to show work to my clients on the fly. While my website is designed for that exact purpose, I don’t always have wifi available to show off a web format portfolio. I like Lightroom’s interface to help highlight my work, and one of my absolute features to prove myself not only as a photographer, but a retoucher, is the Before and After system built into Lightroom using the Y key. This allows you to show all the processing that goes into your photos after the photo session is complete, and can help establish patience in your clients.

Open In Photoshop

As stated above, Lightroom is a wonderful system for photographers, but does not replace the need for Photoshop. Sometimes, in order to correctly retouch your images, you need all the tools within Photoshop to do so, and Lightroom makes it easy, by simply pressing Ctrl + E.

Hopefully some of these shortcuts will help speed up your Lightroom, and help you get through photos faster than ever. If you have any shortcuts that you use to help speed up your workflow, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Zach’s portfolio .