Top 10 Ways To Automate Lightroom!

Lightroom Automation

Top 10 Ways To Automate Lightroom!

Lightroom Automation – 10  Easy Steps!

The Promise: This is going to be a massive epic post but here’s my promise to you… After reading it through and through, you will know everything there there is to it with regards to Lightroom Automation. You will finally be able to not just understand, but actually know how to automate your entire workflow inside lightroom!

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is one heck of an incredible application. When I realised that almost every aspect of a Professional Photographer’s Post Production Workflow could be automated inside of Lightroom, I completely fell in love with this program!

Yes, that’s correct, you can literally automate every aspect of your Editing Workflow in Lightroom! Isn’t that awesome?

And that’s exactly what I will be covering in detail on this blog post!

In the previous two blog posts we learnt all about…

In this blog post, we are going to learn in complete detail, how you can use the power of Presets & Recipes to Automate Lightroom. If you use Lightroom but you haven’t been using Presets & Recipes the way we show you in this blog post, you’re in for a treat! Seriously!!!

So let’s get started…

Here are are Top 10 Tips For Total Lightroom Automation:

Tip #1 – Know The Keyboard Shortcuts That YOU Use:

The very 1st tip for Automating Lightroom, is to learn some of the very useful Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts. No, you don’t have to learn all the shortcuts, but a few keyboard shortcuts especially for tasks you do frequently inside of Lightroom will quickly speed up your workflow.

To make things easy for you guys, here are some of our absolute favorite keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Lightroom:

G – Takes you into grid view in the Library Module

D – Takes you into the Develop Module

W – White Balance Tool

R – Takes you directly into the crop tool

Tip: “Holding “command” for mac or “control key” for windows, in the crop tool will allow you to use the angle ruler on any straight line! This will help you quickly straighten any image, if you have a hard time judging if an image is straight or not!

K – Open Adjustment Brush

, – goes to the previous slider in the basic develop panel

. – goes to the next slider in the basic develop panel

=/+ – increases slider value by a small increment

Tip: Using the period and comma keys to move up and down in the basic panel along with the plus and minus keys allows you to only use your keyboard while editing! Learning to rely on your keyboard shortcuts takes discipline but can help you increase the speed at which you edit!

Shift + “=/+” or “-_” – increases or decreases a slider value by larger increments

Shift + Command + S – Sync Settings – this brings up the panel where you can select the settings you want to sync (For windows, use the control key wherever the command key is used for Mac)

Tip: Selecting images that are taken in the same area and syncing their settings is an easy way to speed up your editing. Doing this gives you the framework to work off-each images in the area may require minor tweaks but this way you increase your speed!

Spacebar – zoom in or out

Tab – Will show / hide side panels

Shift + Tab – Will show / hide all panels

L – will dim the application around the photo for better focusing on the image. Pressing L again will completely black-out the application – Lights Out Mode

T – Will Show / Hide Toolbar

I – Cycle through 2 information Overlay Views! (Refer Tip #3 below for learning more!)

F – Full Screen Mode

For Rating & Filtering:

P – Pick / Flag Image

U – Unpick / Unflag Image

Z – Zoom in 100% on an image

1-5 – Star Rating from 1 to 5

0 – Remove Star Rating

6 – Assign Red Flag

7 – Assign Yellow Flag

8 – Assign Green Flag

9 – Assign Blue Flag

– Toggle between before & after view

Y – Before / After Right & Left (Side by Side Comparison)

Cmd + – Zoom in (For Windows – Ctrl +)

Cmd – – Zoom out (For Windows – Ctrl -)

We are so excited for you to learn & use these, that we have created a Printable Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet for you!

Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

Need a Printable of the above Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts Infographic?

Download the PDF Cheat Sheet here and print it! 🙂

So why so many shortcuts?

  1. They are super easy to learn & remember
  2. They will speed up your workflow for frequently needed editing tasks
  3. You will stress less & enjoy more 😉

Do you need a complete & comprehensive list of all the Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts?

Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Here is a comprehensive Printable PDF (A4 Size) listing all the Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts. This PDF Created by – download it as a PDF here.

Tip #2 – Know How You Are Going To Import Your Files. Be Consistent:

The next super important Tip is to be consistent during the importing of your images into Lightroom.

There are many ways you can import your files into Lightroom…but most of the times, you will have mainly two different ways of importing images into Lightroom.

Either, you are going to be just importing from a Memory Card, or you have already copied the images onto a disk (External Storage / Working Computer Local Disk) and now you just want to tell Lightroom the location where these images already live on the disk.

These are the 2 most common ways of importing images into Lightroom & both of them can be addressed with the help of Presets – Import Presets to be precise.

So all you need to do, is to setup 2 import presets so that it becomes a lot easier to import your images in a consistent manner and not only that, since it automates the whole import process for you, you don’t even have to think of all the variables you would need to be concerned about during the import process.

When you don’t have to think of all the variables, that means you are going to make fewer mistakes.

You can either create these presets yourself or watch this video below to see how to use – The Ultimate Lightroom Presets Workflow System to completely automate the entire Import Process!

We highly recommend that you setup up all your import presets in the import dialog box to make your import process smooth, reliable & consistent every single time.

Tip #3 – Set Up Your Viewing Options:

Now that you have learnt the Keyboard Shortcuts, lets tap the G key and go back to the Grid View.

Next, go to the… View Menu > View Options

Set Library view options for the Grid-view as shown in the image below

Make sure you configure your lightroom Library View Option (Grid View) settings to the exact above options for optimal viewing of Information of your images!

Now let’s do the same with the Loupe-View which is the tab right next to the Grid-View as shown in the image below:

Now anytime you wish to see the details of the image you are editing whether you are in the Develop Module or the Library Module, simply hit the I key and Toggle between Info Overlay 1, Info Overlay 2 and Info Overlay Off.

Tip #4 – Presets:

This tip is what I call the Holy Grail of Lightroom Awesomeness!

Why do I say so?

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]The answer is pretty simple….using presets, you can literally achieve total Lightroom Automation! Lightroom allows us to view, import, organize, filter, cull, edit, retouch, batch process, proof and export our digital images for print and digital media.[/su_note]

We can completely automate and streamline our entire Lightroom Post-Production Workflow using presets at every stage of our workflow.

And that’s exactly why I get so excited about Adobe Lightroom!

We just saw how we can use Import & Metadata Presets to automate the Import process in Lightroom.

For viewing, organizing, filtering, culling – We have Filter and Smart Collection Presets

For editing & retouching the images – We have Develop & Adjustment Brush Presets.

And finally for Exporting our images for Print & Digital Media (Online – Websites / Blogs & Social Networks) we have Export Presets!

So that’s how the entire post-processing workflow can be fully automated using Adobe Lightroom.

If you really want to see the Power of Automation in action check out this video:

Isn’t it amazing as to how presets help in Lightroom Automation?

You can check out more about our Ultimate Lightroom Preset Workflow System here.

Tip #5 – Create Virtual Copies & Virtual Collections:

In our earlier blog post, we learnt the mechanics & the foundation of learning lightroom and now we know that all editing in Lightroom is non-destructive in nature. There is no manipulation or altering or modification of pixels.

Lightroom does not touch our photos…what it does is, it simply creates a record of the image in its database (catalog file) and in this record it stores all the information regarding the image such as – Metadata, filters & edits we have done on the image, metadata we have added to the photo, and a history of all the changes that have been made to the image.

Lightroom allows us to work non destructively. It allows us to make raw adjustments. In other words, it doesn’t actually modify the pixels, rather, it creates some raw instructions. All of these raw instructions, are saved inside of the Lightroom catalog real time. And the great thing about raw processing is that, it allows us to work really quickly, and it gives us a lot of flexibility. So, we can have an image, which we convert to black and white. and then later, we can change our mind and decide to have a bit more of a red shift in the photograph.

Now, there can be occasions where we might want the same image to be treated differently viz. Have an image edited with some cool colour grading & then have the same image edited in black & white (monochrome).

Normally, in order to achieve this and have a non-destructive environment, what we would do is, create a copy of the original image and edit it in color. Then create another copy of the original image & edit it in monochrome. This way, we keep the original intact and at the same time, have additional copies of the same image with different adjustments. So in a normal situation where a person doesn’t use lightroom, he would have multiple copies of the same image…the 1st one being the original & the other two with color grading & monochrome adjustments respectively.

This is not only cumbersome, but it creates a lot of duplicate files and eats up a lot of your storage. This is exactly where Lightroom Virtual Copies come into play. What you can do is, instead of creating duplicates for the edits, you can simply right-click on an image and select – Create Virtual Copy

We can get even more creative and have even more flexibility if we work with what are called virtual copies. And how virtual copies work is kind of interesting. Let’s say for example that we have the actual image and it’s about 25 megs. Well, we create a virtual copy. And what that can allow us to do, is to simply create a new set of instructions, so that we can then display our photograph in a new way. And we can also create multiple virtual copies, and the great thing about this, is that rather than having to double or to triple our file size, we’re simply adding a new raw instruction file.

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Virtual Copies helps us to edit different versions of the same image and create multiple distinct looks without actually creating duplicate files.[/su_note]

So now that we know what Virtual Copies are, let’s take a look at Virtual Collections – also known as just Collections. Just like virtual copies help us create multiple looks of the same image, virtual collections help us create virtual folders inside of lightroom that can help us organise our images the way we want and with the freedom we want. A folder is a location on your hard drive which contains your images.

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]A collection is a unique and virtual way of organising those files with the freedom we want inside of lightroom. Just like virtual copies, collections are also virtual. They do not take up space on your hard drive. They simply help us look at our folders in a different way.[/su_note]

So in a sense, Collections are kind of like Folders. But they’re even better. Folders, actually reside on the hard drive as well. They’re part of Lightroom, but they’re also part of the hard drive. Collections are like Folders, but even better. A Folder is chained, or locked down, to a particular location. In contrast, Lightroom allows us to create what are called Collections. And Collections are unique to Lightroom, and also, they’re virtual. They give us more flexibility. Collections also allow us to reorder our images and just to group images together in some really unique and fascinating ways, and that’s one of the reasons why many people say – Collections are king.

Tip #6 – Develop Presets & Brush Presets:

The most commonly used method of automating lightroom is perhaps using Develop Presets and Adjustment Brush Presets. Develop Presets are basically recipes that you apply to an image to give it a distinct look and feel. So you can have different color & monochrome presets for creating different looks for your images.

Develop Presets work globally on the image. That means, when you apply a develop preset, the entire look and feel of the image will be modified. However if you wish to edit or alter only certain areas in the the image, or fine-tune, polish and accentuate certain areas in the image, what you need instead are Local Adjustment Presets.

Lightroom Brush Presets is the missing secret sauce of Professional Photographers that will take your imagery to an entirely new level. It’s the sizzle that will sell your steak!

So what would be the reasons for using Brush Presets?

To lighten (dodge) & darken (burn) specific areas strategically in your images. for Professional Skin, Hair, Beauty, Make-up & Retouching, adding eye-liner, highlighting hair, removing skin blemishes, reducing under eye dark circles or whitening the teeth; all of this and a whole lot more you can do with Adjustment Brush Presets.

In fact, you can even add realistic light effects on road side lamps or the headlight of a car if you wish to! You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to creating intelligent ready-made tools and presets that help you do all of the above!

You can either create your own develop presets & brush presets to achieve all of the above quickly and easily or you can choose to check out our own Develop & Brush Presets that can help you fully automate lightroom and quickly create all the above looks and a whole lot more!

You can learn more about our Ultimate Lightroom Preset Workflow System here. It will help you completely automate & revolutionise your entire post production workflow!

Tip #7 – History & Snapshots:

As mentioned earlier, the History Panel records a history of the adjustments made to an image.

You can use the History Panel to get back to any point in your processing workflow for a particular image. To go back to any recorded point in history, simply click on the step in the History Panel. For example, if we click on Highlights, it will undo all the other previous adjustments made to the image, from Vibrance to White Clipping.

If we right-click on one of the steps in the History Panel, we have 2 options.

Option 1: Create Snapshot

First, we have the option to create a Snapshot from where we are, depending on the step in the History Panel selected.

Option 2: Copy History Step Settings to Before

We can copy a particular history setting so that when we hit the “” button (Before/After shortcut) on our keyboard, it will show that history step in the Before setting.

Option 3: Clear History

Although this is not an option when we right-click on a step in the History Panel, we can also clear all of the history recorded in the History Panel. Just click on the “X” at the top of the History Panel to clear all history recorded.

Since, history states do not take up much space at all on your hard drive, we don’t really recommend deleting your history unless you have a very good reason to!

Tip #8 – Make Presets In The Library Module To Export Images & To Edit In Photoshop:

Once you are done making all the changes you need to your images, now is kind of the time where, you are either going to export a lot of images, or you are going to go ahead and edit them further in Photoshop.

Regardless of what you do, you need to make a Preset for it. This will save you a whole lot of time.

If we go into the Lightroom menu (for mac) & Edit Menu (for windows)

Lightroom / Edit Menu > Preferences…in the Preferences Dialog Window, the 3rd tab is – External Editing tab.

Click on the External Editing tab…

Whenever you right click on any image in Lightroom & choose Edit In, the settings you see in this External Editing Tab are the exact settings that will be used to edit your images in the latest version of Photoshop you are using.

The 2nd highlighted rectangle is the additional external editor settings that you can use!

The great thing about creating presets / settings for editing images in Photoshop or any other external editor is that, once you save those settings as presets, every time you export the image to Photoshop (in our case Photoshop CC 2017) and additional external editor presets (in our case Exposure 7), all the settings will be based on your presets that you have saved! So this helps maintain uniformity with regards to External Editing in other programs!

This way, you can maintain Editing uniformity throughout your editing workflow and not just inside of Adobe Lightroom!

So once you save your settings as a preset, all you have to do is to right click on an image in Lightroom, choose edit in, and then the 3rd Party Application in which you wish to edit your images be it Photoshop / Exposure / or any other Application!

Tip #9 – Make Preset Templates For Slideshows, Print Layouts & Web Pages:

In Lightroom, presets can be made for Slideshows Print Layouts & Web Pages as well.

The beauty and power of the new features in the slideshow module allow users to quickly apply a template to create slideshows for presentations, some of which are already included with Lightroom. Slideshows provide a very good starting point but then you can customize the slideshow in a number of ways to display your photos exactly the way you want to display them.

Of the 3, Print Layout Presets are something you will find particularly useful! So what is a Lightroom Print Layout for?  With a Lightroom Print Template, you can make Collages, Facebook Timelines, Pinterest posts, and Wall Previews…all inside Lightroom.

This is the best resource for free Print Templates. You can download over 200 Free Print Template on this page!

One thing to note is that the templates offered on the above link are not designed for Printing (like the LR Print Module was designed to do), but for use in Social Media (posting to Facebook, Pinterest), Client Sales Meetings (Wall Preview Templates) and making custom Facebook Timelines for your business.

Web Page Templates are also available inside lightroom. The Web module in Lightroom lets you create web photo galleries, which are websites that feature your photography. In a web gallery, thumbnail versions of images link to larger versions of the photos, on the same page or on another page.

The panels on the left side of the Web module in Lightroom contain a list of templates and previews of their page layouts. The center pane is the image display area, which automatically updates as you make changes and lets you navigate between the pages in your gallery. Panels on the right have controls for specifying how the photos appear in the template layout, modifying the template, adding text to the web page, previewing the web gallery in a browser, and specifying settings for uploading the gallery to a web server.

The web page templates haven’t been updated much since many versions of Adobe Lightroom and look a lot dated. Hence we do not recommend Web Page Templates all that much!

Tip #10 – Use the Publish Services in the Library Module:

Publish Services – This is yet another super powerful option inside of Adobe Lightroom

Before we deep dive into Publish Services, let us understand what is the difference between Exporting & Publishing!

Exporting VS Publishing:

In Lightroom, exporting creates a version of an image that lives outside of Lightroom. Lightroom doesn’t keep track of that image once it leaves Lightroom. With publishing, Lightroom maintains an association between the original image and the published image, which means Lightroom knows when you’ve made changes to an image after it has been published.

Let’s understand this better with a Flickr Publish Services option. If you export an image and upload it to Flickr, make a change, and export another copy of the image, uploading the new version will result in two images in Flickr. When you publish an image to Flickr, make a change, Lightroom knows there is a difference between the image and the last published image, and you can republish the image to Flickr, overwriting the Flickr copy with the changes.

The Publishing Services can be accessed in the Library Module. If you don’t see the option, right-click on the panel and select Publish Services, or navigate to Window > Panels > Publish Services.

Once the Publish Services are enabled, you should see the Flickr option, as shown below. If not, then you will need to go into your Plug-in Manager and enable the Flickr plug-in.


In order to use the Flickr publisher, you’ll need to connect Lightroom to Flickr first. Click on the Set Up… link, which will bring up the Lightroom Publishing Manager.

The Publishing Manager is similar to the export dialog, where you can specify formats for naming files, how to resize images, and sharpening and metadata management. At the top of the dialog under Flickr Account, click the Authorize button to begin the connection process.

Click on the Authorize and launch the Flickr authorization page in your browser.

Click the OK, I’LL AUTHORIZE IT button to enable the integration. Or not. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. But if you click NO THANKS, the rest of this tutorial is going to seem pretty frustrating.

If you got this far, you probably clicked the AUTHORIZE button. Good job! This is totally going to be worth it.

Back in Lightroom, under the Flickr Account section, it should now show that you are authorized as your username and ready to take advantage of the publisher.

If you give the settings a description, click Save and close the Publishing Manager, you will also see that the Flickr publisher is connected.

Configuring The Flickr Publisher:

Now that the publisher is authorized, pop back into the Publishing Manager to configure the rest of the settings. As I mentioned above, many of the publishing settings are similar to the export settings.

Now you’re connected, authorized, and you’ve got your settings right where you want them. Now, it’s time to publish some images!

Once the process completed, your images will get uploaded on Flickr! That’s how you work smart inside of Lightroom!

There are a lot many Publish Services that connect seamlessly to Lightroom such as SmugMug, etc. You can find them just below the Publish Services section in Lightroom that says – Find More Services Online…

Here are two of my favorite videos on Lightroom Automation:

The 1st video is hosted by Jared Platt who is one of the biggest Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been featured on CreativeLive on many occasions too!

This 2nd video is by the one and only Julieanne Kost – who is the Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist at Adobe!


So here is an infographic that sums up how to achieve & master – Complete Lightroom Automation

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Question: Is there anything else you can automate inside Lightroom? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
If you liked this post, please share it with your friends & colleagues! Sharing is caring :)[/su_note]

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