lightroom tricks

8 Easy Lightroom Tips That Will Save You Hours Of Post Processing Time

Lightroom is awesome, there’s no secret about that. And once you know a few Lightroom tips and tricks, it only gets sweeter. It performs 95% of the actions I need. I can use it to keep my photos organized, edit my images, backup my photos, and export them directly to the web. As one of the industry’s leading post-processing software options, it really goes without saying Lightroom is a well-designed program.

It’s also a huge program with tonnes of features sometimes making it overwhelming too. If you don’t have an efficient workflow, you can be wasting valuable time editing your images. It’s very easy to get bogged down in Lightroom and to become frustrated when you spend 5 hours editing three images. It shouldn’t be like that. There should be a method to the madness. You should be able to move through a series of steps and efficiently complete your image editing in a reasonable amount of time.

8 Time Saving Lightroom Tips

So without further delay here are some Lightroom tips to help you with optimizing your workflow and keep you moving right on through the editing process.

Easy Lightroom tips
Don’t let post processing cut into your valuable shooting time. Use these easy Lightroom tips to speed up your editing workflow.

#1: Develop a Consistent Routine

Everyone develops a slightly different workflow. Talk to 5 photographers, and they will all have different methods of editing and organize their photos. The one important thing you will discover is that they have a set routine.

Here’s an example of a workflow–everyone’s is slightly different:

  1. Import Photos – add keywords, apply any import presets including metadata presets
  2. Cull photos in the library module
  3. Bring photos into the Develop Module and make global adjustments like color temperature
  4. Apply batch processing if possible
  5. Make localized adjustments like cropping or straightening horizons
  6. Use adjustment brushes to continue to improve your top 5 photos
  7. Leave your photos for a few days and let them marinate. Come back with fresh eyes…
  8. Make some minor adjustments
  9. Export photos!

Take some time to think about the logical steps you should take. It may sound crazy, but write the steps down! Follow this process each time you import, edit, and export your images. Consistency is the key efficiency in Lightroom.

#2: Use Keyboard Shortcuts

It’s much easier to learn and use keyboard shortcuts when working in Lightroom. There’s no need to scroll through menus. Just learn the shortcuts you commonly need to perform basic editing tasks, etc. and you will cut down on time spent. They even make handy keyboard covers with the shortcuts right on them to make the memorization process a breeze. We actually featured them in this article, check them out, they’re #21 on the list!

#3: Use Keywords At Import

Use keywords when you import your shots into Lightroom. This simple act will save you so much time if you need to search for images at a later date. Simply head up to the text bar on your Library module, type in a keyword, and the images you’ve tagged with this keyword will appear.

Lightroom Tips
Here I’ve highlighted a handy tip. Hold down the Alt key and Lightroom will assign a number to each keyword. Then you can just hit the numbers instead of typing in keywords.

This tip helped me out recently. I had a client call me looking for images of the local conservation area. She needed to pair some images with an article they were planning on publishing. I always keyword my images with their location. I was able to type in the location and find 25 photos from which I could choose from. In 5 minutes I had selected 6 or 7 images to send her. She purchased 2 of them for the magazine, and I was up some cash. Organization really is the key.

Lightroom tips
Here you can see that I’ve created keyword sets. These also save me time.

#4: Import and Backup Photos at the Same Time

In the import settings, you can use an option to download images to two specific locations. This allows you to import and create a backup of your images all in one shot. When doing this, create at least folders of your images.

  • One import should always be to your main Lightroom catalogue.
  • The second should go to your backup location.

Related Article: Online Photo Storage Services

I back up all my raw files to external hard drives. In fact, I back up to 2 different hard drives which, when full, I then store in two different locations. This way I know my images are always safe. I have three copies of my RAW files. When your income depends on your images, you can’t afford to lose them.

Related Article: How to Make Money with Photography

This section of the import box is where you can designate a backup location.
This section of the import box is where you can designate a backup location.

#5: Keep your Rating System Simple

Lightroom offers you a multitude of ways to rate your images and organize them using colors, stars, flags, etc. Don’t get complicated! Keep an image or reject it. Simple. In the Library Module, go through your images and get rid of ones you know just won’t work. You don’t need to keep overexposed and out of focus images. They will do nothing but fill up your hard drive.

One quick way to cull images is to use the P and X keys in library mode.

Press the P key to accept an image and the X key to reject an image.

Once you’ve gone through the whole array images, use the Command Key (on Mac) and the Delete Key (PC) to remove images from the catalog. Don’t hesitate to delete them from the disk. You don’t need them. We photographers are like digital packrats, we think we need to keep everything.  Trust me, you don’t.

#6: Learn how to Batch Process your Images

If you’re working on a series of images that all have the same exposure and lighting conditions you can make the same general edits to all of your images. Begin by adjusting one image from the group. Make sure that you get the image to look the way you like. Adjust white balance, exposure, color temperature, etc. make sure they are general edits applied to the whole image, not just an isolated area.

Adjust white balance, exposure, color temperature, etc. Make sure they are general edits applied to the whole image, not just an isolated area. Don’t sync cropping or brush adjustments. Highlight the image you want to use as your sync.Syncsettings_Lightroom

Once you have completed this process, click Command on Mac or Alt on PC + Left Click all the images you wish to batch process. Now that you have selected multiple images, choose Settings > Sync Settings from the menu bar. The selected changes are then applied to your images.

#7: Make Presets

Most of us have certain edits that we commonly apply to our images. We all have our favorite treatments. I tend to add a vignette to just about every photograph I take. I’ve created a series of different vignette settings that I can quickly skim through and add to my photographs. In a few quick clicks, I can adjust my images without worrying about sliders. It saves me lots of time. PhotoBlog writer and photographer, Anup Ghimire, wrote a great tutorial on how to do this if you want to learn how to do it.

Related Article: Free Lightroom Tutorials

Alternatively, you can purchase a variety of presets online or grab some free presets. Check out these free Lightroom presets to get you started. There are loads of different photographers and editing companies that offer presets for a variety of purposes. And the best part, in a few clicks you can own lots of different presets that can help you edit images in a few short clicks.

Here you can see that I've circled my presets panel.
Here you can see that I’ve circled my presets panel.

If you find yourself using a lot of the same editing steps and adjustments when editing your photos, but want a more customized look, you can make your own presets. The entire process is surprisingly simple, it’s all laid out right here in this step-by-step tutorial on how to install Lightroom presets.

#8: Shoot Smaller Files

This tip isn’t for everyone. There are times when you have to shoot huge files to meet certain resolution requirements for printing photos. But there are also plenty of times when you can get away with smaller file size. Use this to your advantage. Smaller files will speed up the processing speeds in Lightroom. When you have an old computer with slower processing speeds smaller files can help speed everything up.


Lightroom is a huge program. There’s so much to learn. I certainly don’t know everything about it! However, each time I use the program, I try to pick up a new trick or skill. It takes a lot of time to learn Lightroom and become proficient with the program. Taking courses is always a good idea. But if your budget doesn’t have room for the expense, there are a tonne of great websites and youtube videos out there you can use. Just be patient with yourself. Eventually, you will get it. It’s amazing how quickly your skills will improve when you consciously set out to try new things with the program.

lightroom tricks
What are some of your favorite time-saving tricks? Photo by Radek Gryzbowski

To help you on your path to learning try these websites. If you have some great tricks, you like to use when editing, by all means, share them with us in the comments below. It’s such a great way to share what we know and learn a few Lightroom tips from our fellow PhotoBlog community members as well!

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About the author

Erin Fitzgibbon

Erin FitzGibbon is a Portrait, Sport, Fine Art Photographer and Writer from Ontario, Canada. When she's not taking photographs or writing articles she loves to escape to the backcountry for week long adventures with her family.

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