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  1. #5. Setting Preferences
  2. #6. Customizing the Interface
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#6 Customizing the Interface

In a recent conversation, accomplished architect Mat Gradias said to me, “I’ve built my career on the idea that space matters and I wholeheartedly believe it really does matter.” And I agree with Gradias, especially when it comes to working on photographs in a software application. The space or context that surrounds the images has the ability to direct your opinion about the work. I find it helpful to customize the interface so that I can create a space where I feel at home and where my images take center stage.

In order to customize the interface choose Lightroom > Preferences. Click the Interface tab to access the Interface Preferences for Panels, Lights Out, Background, Filmstrip, and Tweaks (Figure 6).


From more than a dozen options, choose a Panel End Mark that fits your photographic style. Keep in mind this is not simply about adding a graphic for graphics’ sake. Rather, customize the interface to create a work environment where your images will shine. Next, determine the Panel Font Size.

Lights Out

The Lights Out mode enables you to dim, black out, or brighten the Lightroom interface so that your photo stands out on screen. Choose a Dim Level of 50, 70, 80, or 90 percent and choose a Screen Color that ranges from white to black. In this way you can turn the lights out or on and really focus on the photo without the distractions of the interface.


Most introductory photography courses will teach you that if you surround an image with black the colors will appear more saturated and the tone will appear to have more contrast. On the other hand, surround an image with white and you will notice the opposite effect. In Lightroom, choose a background Fill Color and Overlay Texture that will work best with your images. Try different options to discover your own personal preferences.


The Filmstrip is a quick and easy way to access and view images. I recommend you leave all of the Filmstrip options selected in order to view and access important information and speed up your workflow. In particular, select Show ratings and picks in filmstrip and also Show badges in filmstrip in order to see helpful small icons. Select Show photos in navigator on mouse-over in order to view an image preview in the navigator panel. Finally, select Show image info tooltips in filmstrip to view file name, size, and date.


Select Zoom clicked point to center in order to re-center and zoom the image. In this way, you are able to more quickly zoom into a desired portion of the image. Uncheck this option for zooming where the center point does not change. Select Use typographic fractions in order to change how the shutter speeds are displayed in the metadata panel.

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