My 5 Favorite Tips to Navigate Lightroom Like a Boss

Although Lightroom is by far my favorite photo editing tool, I have to admit that it has quite a few shortcomings that take some effort to overcome.

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Normally, when you start learning multiple computer programs, the process becomes easier and faster with every new program you learn because most share common features and concepts.

Previous experiences, however, do not always help us navigate and understand Lightroom because it is quite a unique program. Compared to Photoshop, I do not consider Lightroom to be a very complex application to learn; but, it takes time to understand its unique logic and the various concepts behind it.

It all starts with a user interface which, I find, can be confusing at times. The unique user interface is typically the first stumbling block for most newcomers.

Let me explain

Lightroom employs a modular structure (Library, Develop, Map, Print, Slideshow, Web). The biggest problem with Lightroom’s editing workflow is that I am forced to constantly switch from the Library Module to the Develop Module and back on multiple occasions. Since Lightroom is not a fast-running graphics program, the jump from module to module takes time. And, if you have to do it on multiple occasions in a short period of time, it breaks the flow of editing and can often be frustrating.

For example, if I am in the Develop Module and want to start working on another image that is not part of any Collections, I have to switch to the Library Module since the Develop Module does not display Folders. Once in the Library, I must locate the right folder and select the new image. If I want to continue editing, I then have to switch back to the Develop Module.

Like I said before, it is very frustrating.

Fortunately, there are some useful features in Lightroom that can help us overcome many unnecessary steps and speed up the entire editing workflow.

Here are a few of my favorite tips on how to overcome some of Lightroom’s navigational issues.

1. Recent Sources

This is probably a less obvious and less known navigational feature in Lightroom. But, at the same time, I find it to be the most useful for speeding up the workflow and saving an enormous amount of time.

This feature works in every module of Lightroom. When you click on the image file name above the film strip, you get a menu with the Recent Sources feature.

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It shows you all the recent locations you have previously visited. It not only shows you the Collections, it shows Folders and Smart Collections as well.

The best feature of the Recent Sources functionality is that when you click on any source, it takes you there without switching modules.

This is huge!

For example, when you are in the Develop Module, you can select any folder from the Recent Sources list, jump to that folder, select a new image and keep editing without leaving the Develop Module interface. 

2. Favorite Sources

Favorite Sources is like Recent Sources but with extended functionality.

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It allows us to add any Folder, Collection or Smart Collection to the list of favorites. When the source is added to Favorites, it functions as Recent Sources but stays there permanently.

You have the options to add a new Favorite Source or remove existing one.​

3. Go to Folder In Library

This is another one of my favorite functionalities because it helps me locate the physical location of any image.

When I am in the Develop Module, I access the images I want to edit by going to the Collection or Smart Collection from the Collection Panel. The actual location of the image on the hard drive is not always easy to pinpoint.

By right clicking (Option clicking on Mac) on any image and selecting the “Go to Folder in Library” option, you are telling Lightroom to take you to the physical location of the image.

Lightroom will then take you to the Library Module and will select the Folder where the image is located.

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4. Go to Collection

In Lightroom, any image can be part of multiple Collections, which can often be difficult to keep track of.

The “Go to Collection” option serves two main purposes. First, when you right-click (option click on Mac) on any image and select the “Go to Collection” option, it will show you all the Collections that this particular image is part of.

Second, it allows us to select the Collection and jump to it without switching the module.

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5. Show in Explorer (Finder)

This is another huge time saver. By right clicking on any image in any module and selecting “Show in Explorer” (Show in Finder on Mac), it will take you outside of Lightroom to reveal the file location in the file browser.

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Navigating Lightroom can be frustrating and slow, but if you know and use these small but valuable “helpers”, the sun will shine brighter and your blood pressure will be lower.

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by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

10 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Tips to Navigate Lightroom Like a Boss”

  1. Great tips about Recent/Favorite sources! I didn’t know about these and they sure will come in handy. Like you, I too am frustrated by the amount of time I spend jumping between the Library and Develop modules.

    I have a few more tips that will help Lightroom’s speed: pause any antivirus or malware scanners and definitely pause any real time backup program. And close your browsers. All these really caused Lightroom to lag on my system.

      • Yeah, me too. It’s kind of sad that software continually overwhelms hardware advancements. You’d think that with a 64-bit OS running on a multi-core processor could handle concurrent operations seamlessly. But no, the slowdowns are still very obvious.

  2. I had not realized most of these tools. Thanks for bringing them forward.

  3. Very nice tidbit which I see using often.

    I have an unrelated question that maybe youve stumbled upon and / or have a solution.

    In Loupe or Grid mode you can put various info in the top right and left corners of the image. I use, amongst others, Capture Date/Time.

    When I transfer or copy NEF into LR, the date is fine and corresponds to the actual Date/Time the photo was taken, even if the import date is several days in the future.

    However, I noticed that when I import videos from the Windows Explorer, (and they get there from the Photo Director that I use for “adjusting the movie clips and then save them from AVCHD to mp4”), the video date and time stamp that LR assigns is exactly 5 hours (if I transfer immediately, as an experiment) later than the clip was captured (which just happens to the be amount of time my geographical site is away from GMT.) Interesting, eh?

    If I do this days later, the capture Date day ends up being the day on which I edit or import the clip into LR, not the date that the clip was captured.

    Any ideas. I’ve ensured that the camera, Canon Vixia HF R700, was correctly setup to the time zone (EST) of my location, near Hamilton, Ontario.


  4. Tip #5 “Show in Explorer” also works in a Mac but shows “Show in Finder”

  5. Thanks for updating and showing us this again. I have used some of these functionalities before, but having it all together in one tutorial is valuable. Thanks for your efforts.


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