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This chapter is from the book Introducing the Lightroom interface

Introducing the Lightroom interface

The following screen shots provide a quick overview of the Lightroom interface, which you’ll find provides a consistent layout design from one module to the next. One of the new features in Lightroom 3 is that the side panels’ auto show/hide behavior is not quite so sensitive as it was previously. This means if you overshoot with the mouse, you are less likely to reveal the side panels by accident. Unfortunately, it has so far only been possible to implement this interface refinement on the Mac version.

Lightroom menu bar

As with any application, the main menu commands are located in the Lightroom menu bar at the top of the screen (Mac) or at the top of the document window (PC). If you are in absolute full-screen mode, the menu bar will be hidden, but it can be revealed by simply rolling the mouse to the top of the screen.

Top panel

The top panel section contains the Identity Plate, which normally shows the Lightroom logo. But you can customize this via the Lightroom → Identity Plate Setup menu. For example, you can replace this with your own name or add a company logo graphic. On the right, you have the module selector menu for selecting the Lightroom modules. The Library module is where you preview and manage your catalog collections. Develop is for processing images. Slideshow enables you to output image collections as on-screen presentations. The Print module is for making prints, and the Web module allows you to generate Web sites and upload them automatically to a specified FTP server. You can use the F5 key to toggle showing and hiding the Top panel.

Content area

The content area is the central section of the interface where you can view the photos you are working on. In the Library module Grid view (shown here), you see the images displayed as thumbnails in a grid cell layout. In the Library module Loupe view and Develop module, the photos are displayed at a fit-to-view or 1:1 scale size. In the other modules—Print, Slideshow, and Web—you can see previews of how the images or screen pages will look before you output them from Lightroom.

Filter bar

Whenever you are in the Library module Grid view, the Filter bar can be made to appear at the top of the content area. This allows you to carry out matching text searches using the Text search section, or search by rating or flag status using the Attribute section. Or, you can use the customizable panels in the Metadata filter section to search for photos using various search criteria, such as a specific date, camera type, or lens type. You can use the Shift key to display more than one Filter bar section at a time and use the \ key to toggle showing and hiding the Filter bar.


A Toolbar is available in all of the Lightroom modules and is positioned at the bottom of the content area. The Toolbar options will vary according to which module you are in and can be customized when you are in the Library or Develop module via the Toolbar options menu (circled). You can use the T key to toggle showing and hiding the Toolbar.

Left panel

In the Library module, the left panel is mainly used for selecting the source photos via the Catalog, Folders, or Collections panel. In the Develop module it is used for the Presets, Snapshots, and History panels, and in the remaining modules it is mainly used for accessing preset settings and collections. For example, if you are working in the Develop module, you can save custom Develop settings as presets, where they can be readily applied to other images. The individual panels can be expanded or collapsed by clicking on the panel bar header. Alt–clicking a panel bar toggles expanding to show the contents of that panel only or expanding to show all panels. You can use the Tab key to toggle showing and hiding both the left and right panels.

Right panel

The right panel section mostly contains panels that provide information about an image, the controls for adjusting an image, or the layout control settings. In the Library module, you can manage the metadata settings for the currently selected photos, and in the Develop module, you can apply image adjustments. In the Slideshow and Print modules, the right panel controls govern the layout and output. As with the left panel, individual panels can be expanded or collapsed by clicking the panel bar header. Alt–clicking a panel bar toggles expanding to show the contents of that panel only, or expanding to show all panels. You can also use the Cmnd key (Mac) or Cntrl key (PC) in combination with a keypad number (0, 1, 2, 3, etc.) to toggle opening and closing individual panels in the order they are listed from the top down.


The Filmstrip is located at the bottom of the Lightroom window. It contains thumbnails of all the images currently displayed in the Library, highlighting those that are currently selected. The Filmstrip thumbnails are accessible in all the other modules, which allows you access to individual images or sub-selections of images without having to switch back to the Library module.

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