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How to use Lightroom workspaces cleverly?



Lightroom is a complex as well as a smart software that has made many of the digital photographer’s life much easier than before. There are many articles in the internet that explains about many of the features in Lightroom. In this article we will see how to use Lightroom workspaces effectively to be more productive.

Lightroom is primarily classified into 7 modules and each module has distinctive purpose to manage, edit, adjust, classify and give an output. Since we are dealing with photographs and we want to see it at the maximum size possible in the monitor while working, we need to know the workspaces in Lightroom. This article is all about the workspaces in Lightroom since not everyone of us have the luxury to work on a 27 inches monitor. Don’t forget to checkout our 50 free presets for Lightroom. You can use these to develop your own workspace without spending a fortune

Lightroom Library module with all the panels in

Screenshot of Lightroom Library module’s typical Interface

In the screenshot, from clockwise direction the yellow colour box is the module picker, where you can pick the module you want to work with. On the left side of the module picker you can display your photography entity name or yourphotography name, this is known as identity plate and can be edited via Clicking “Lightroom →Identity plate setup” (If you are a PC user click File→Identity Plate setup). After you enter the module you want to work with, you can hide this space by pressing F5, if you press it again the picker pops up into the workspace.


Lightroom Name Identity Plate

 Screenshot of Identity plate and editing it

You can access Identity plate directly from the Identity plate itself.  Hover the cursor over the name(the default name would be Lightroom), a downward facing arrow mark will appear – click on it. From the drop down menu click “Change Identity Plate” You will be taken to the separate menu window, from there you can change the display text of the plate.

The next one is the side panel(right side), in the screenshot it is marked in blue colour. In general this is where you apply the maximum adjustments/corrections to your image. Advisable option is to make this panel visible all the time, regardless of the module you are working on. To hide this module press F8, to make this panel visible press F8 again. The tools in the panel will vary based on the module you have selected and you will be accessing it in all the modules, since adobe has kept all the important tools on this panel.


The bottom one is known as film strip and is the tool for picking your photographs for fine tuning. Filmstrip will display the photographs from the folders/collections you have selected from the left side panel in the Library module. Filmstrip is available in all the modules and it is one of the important tool set to access the photographs either via Collection, Folder or Book collection easily. This tool is marked in green colour in the screenshot. If you look at the Filmstrip it can be scrolled towards your right side and your left side to see all the photographs in that collection/folder, so that you can select that exact photograph you want to work with. Filmstrip can be made hidden and visible by pressing F6.

Lightroom Filmstrip


Screenshot of the filmstrip from Develop module

The side panel on your left side is the Navigator panel where you can access all of your folders, collections, catalogs (if you maintain multiple catalogs). This panel is marked in white color on the screenshot. This panel will also change it’s tool contents based on the module you work. This side panel is not required to make it visible all the time you work, this can be made hidden by pressing F7. Only time you need this panel is to select the folder or collection when you enter into Lightroom at first on the day or whenever you want to access your new folder/collection. Hence this panel can be kept hidden.



Note : On this panel only one tool will appear in all the modules which is collection which means you can access your photographs only via collections from any module. Adobe somehow wants the user to use collections. You can’t access folder from other modules.

Collections from Library module

 Screenshot of Library module showing Collections

Collections from develop module

  Screenshot of Develop module showing Collections

The next one is the central & big space known as working space . It is marked in red colour on the screenshot and this is where you view your photographs, compare, survey, check your photographs at 1:1. If you click “G” you can see the photographs in grid mode (like the one on the screenshot) if you press “D” Lightroom will take you to the develop module with the selected photograph.


Tip : When you are in Library module, you can increase the size of the thumbnails by clicking “+” sign and decrease the same by clicking “-” sign.



The box above the Filmstrip is called toolbar and is marked on the screenshot in purple colour. This toolbar is to let us assign the attributes either star rating or color labeling or rotate the photograph for viewing appropriately and many more. To read more about the Library filters and toolbar, I recommend you to read my another article which I have wrote for dPS. To view this toolbar press “T” and to hide the toolbar press “T” again.


Have you seen an arrow head mark on the edges of all the four panels, precisely on the centre of the edge? If not look at the screenshot again. If you click that arrow head with your mouse, the panel will retract and if you click that arrow head mark when the panel is hidden it will become visible. Now if you position your computer’s cursor anywhere on the small strip of space where the arrow head lies and you right click, you will see the options as on the screenshot with the below options.

Lightroom sidepanel option

Screenshot when you right click on the arrow strip

If you click the first option “Auto Hide & Show” will let the panel hide and show as you hover the mouse on that small space (mostly when you touch the edges of your screen). The second option will make you hide the panel automatically but not the other way. If you select the third option you will have to manually reach the arrow head mark and click it to retract or to make the panel visible.


If you have clicked either one of the Auto option the arrow head will appear as if it is made of dots once you click on the strips. See the screenshot below. If the arrow mark facing outwards means that the panel is retracted and if the arrow mark is facing inwards towards the workspace it can be hidden and vice-versa too.

Screenshot 2015-04-17 17.36.26



If you click the “Sync with opposite panel” option whatever you do on this side of the panel will be happening on the opposite side panel also.


Now we learnt all the panels/film strips in Lightroom and how it works along with it’s shortcuts, now it is upto you to decide how do you want your workspace to be.


For Instance, I use “Manual” along with the shortcuts all the time to keep it simple. If I need any particular panel then I bring it in using the shortcut and close it back once the purpose is served. For instance, When i work in develop module I keep my workspace clutter free only the right side panel is visible and nothing else. I really meant nothing else. See the screenshot below.

Screenshot 2015-04-17 18.02.57


Screenshot of my workspace!

If you follow this method you can even work on a 13” laptop without any issues. To recreate this workspace, hide all the side panels as we discussed above and press & hold “shift” key and then press “F” to make the Lightroom window to take up the whole screen. But this time with the menu bar, to even rid off the menu bar repeat “shift + F” again, now the screen will appear as like above. If you repeat it again you will come back to the original state.

Note : This article is based on Lightroom version 5.7.1 installed in a iMac system. There are very minimal changes if you are a PC user.

On a PC you can right-click just about anywhere in Lightroom to bring up a contextual menu. If you’re a Mac user and you use an Apple mouse right-click may be disabled. If so, you can access the contextual menu by holding the Control key down when you click. Or, you can enable right-clicking (System Preferences > Mouse) even with a single-button Apple mouse. Another solution is to use a Windows mouse – the Mac OS X recognises it and enables right-clicking.

Hope you find this article valuable.

Take a minute to let me know how you feel about the article in the comments section.



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