Organizing the Lightroom Workspace: Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure

by Mikkel Aaland

The Lightroom workspace is extremely malleable. You can easily enlarge or shrink the various windows to suit your viewing and working preferences, whether you are on a laptop in the field or using your large display in the studio.

Let's start with the obvious and then move on to more hidden ways of organizing the Lightroom workspace. Everything here applies to all the modules.

This excerpt is from Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure. Completely up-to-date for Lightroom 2, this beautifully illustrated and eminently practical book offers a complete tour of Adobe's integrated digital photography workflow application. Augmented by photos and case studies from a demanding road test in Tasmania, award-winning photographer Mikkel Aaland explains how Lightroom allows you to import, select, develop and showcase large volumes of digital images.

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The Obvious

If you are like me, when you see certain icons you naturally want to click on them to see what they do.

See the triangle-shaped icons on the side panels and top and bottom in Figure 1-18? (I circled them in red.) This
is a quick way to get extra real estate.

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Figure 1-18

I positioned my mouse and clicked on them one at a time. Now I have a screen, shown in Figure 1-19, that displays only my preview images without any extra clutter. To reveal the side panels and
the filmstrip and menu bar, simply click on the triangle again. (Rolling your
cursor over the triangle while any of the panels are hidden temporarily reveals them. They disappear when the cursor is moved away.)

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Figure 1-19

You can also resize the entire Lightroom window to fill a specific area on your screen by placing your cursor on the bottom right of the window, then dragging the window to the desired size, as shown in Figure 1-20.

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Figure 1-20

Menu commands

Menu commands are another obvious way of controlling the look of your Lightroom work area. Under the Window menu you have several options. The Mac menu (at left in Figure 1-21) is slightly different from the Windows version (at right in Figure 1-21).

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Figure 1-21

Screen mode options

You can change screen modes directly from the menu bar (Window→ Screen Mode), as shown in Figure 1-22. However, learning to use the keystroke F to toggle between screen modes will make your workflow much more efficient. Again, the menu looks slightly different on Mac (left) and Windows (right).

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Figure 1-22

Normal (or Standard) Screen Mode

When you set your screen mode to Normal, your screen looks like the one shown in Figure 1-23. The menu bar is visible at the top, and all the panels and the module picker are visible as well. Of course, you can further customize the screen mode by hiding the panels or module picker by clicking on the small side triangles as described previously. (For this example, I've gone from thumbnail view or Grid View to single image view or Loupe View. These are specific viewing options within the Library module, which I'll discuss in more detail in Chapter 3.)

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Figure 1-23

Full Screen with Menu

Setting your screen mode to Full Screen with Menu makes your screen look like the one shown in Figure 1-24. The screen looks similar to the Normal screen; however, it fills your display screen and you don't have screen resize capabilities.

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Figure 1-24

Full Screen

With Full Screen the menu bar is gone, unless you roll your mouse over it. Side panels and filmstrip remain as shown in Figure 1-25 unless you choose to hide them.

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Figure 1-25

Full Screen and Hide Panels

This mode maximizes the image viewing area, yet maintains some of the viewing and sorting tools as shown in Figure 1-26.

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Figure 1-26

Not So Obvious

Lightroom provides a couple of not-so-obvious commands that help you organize and frame your work area more efficiently.

For example, by default, all the panes in all the side panels (circled in Figure 1-27) open sequentially and remain open when you click on them.

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Figure 1-27

If you hold the Opt/Alt key while clicking on any side panel pane (like the one circled in Figure 1-28), only that pane opens, in the so-called Solo mode. To return to the default behavior, hold the Opt/Alt key and click on the pane again. This behavior is on a panel-by-panel basis.

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Figure 1-28

You can also control the behavior of the panes by right-clicking anywhere on the pane header (except on the triangle).

The contextual menu shown in Figure 1-29 appears. If you select Solo Mode, you duplicate the behavior described previously (the same effect as when you hold the Opt/Alt key while clicking on the pane). You can also hide individual panes by deselecting the check mark next to their name. (You can't, however, rearrange the panel order.) The choices are applied on a panel-by-panel basis.

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Figure 1-29

You can swap, customize, or remove the panel end mark at the bottom of the left or right panel. Right-click the bottom of a panel to bring up a contextual menu, as shown in Figure 1-30. (Custom panel end marks are PNG files placed in the Panel End Marks folder. The file is available in the Panel End Mark contextual menu when it is in the Panel End Marks folder.)

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Figure 1-30

TIP Photoshop users are probably familiar with using the Tab key to hide tool palettes. Selecting the Tab key in Lightroom hides (or reveals) the side panels and is a quick way to maximize the image viewing area. Shift-Tab hides the top and bottom panels as well.

Setting Interface Preferences

Lightroom interface preferences can also be used to customize the look and feel of the workspace. Select Preferences (under the Lightroom menu on a Mac, under the Edit Menu on Windows) and click on the Interface tab. Here, as shown in Figure 1-31, you can find choices for many things, including the look of the panel end mark, Lights Out levels, background colors and texture, and filmstrip view options.

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Figure 1-31

Lights On Lights Out

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Figure 1-32

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Figure 1-33

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Figure 1-34

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure.