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A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

Keyboard shortcuts and modifiers - for many the approach adopted by Adobe for allocating keyboard shortcuts is too restrictive and often non-intuitive. If only Adobe had included a keyboard customisation feature similar to that in Photoshop, alas they didn't. So, until Adobe provide keyboard shortcut customisation we must make do with what we have or do we?

Primary Keyboard Shortcuts and Modifiers

Let's begin with what every Lightroom Classic user should already know. Adobe have included a fairly extensive list of keyboard shortcuts and modifier key combinations under the Help menu. Unfortunately, many of the more important shortcuts are less well documented.

A comprehensive list of Lightroom Classic and Desktop Keyboard shortcuts can be downloaded from Victoria Bampton's website

Remapping keyboard shortcuts and filling in the gaps - macOS

As I mentioned above Adobe have not yet provided tools for customising Lightroom Classic keyboard shortcuts, but that doesn't mean that it can't be done. For example, in macOS  Apple have provided everything we need to create new shortcuts and/or remap those that already exist. Better still it can be done on an application by application basis. The tools required are located in Keyboard utility of System Preferences pane (figure 4).

Figure 4 - macOS 11 Big Sur System Preferences Panel

Here are the steps required:

  • Select App Shortcuts from the Description list

  • Click on the + button to add Adobe Lightroom Classic to the list of applications. When you press the + button you'll be given a list of applications to choose from.

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Figure 5 - macOS 11 Big Sur Keyboard Shortcuts Panel

Tip: With the exception of toggling a few side panels Adobe have generally avoided the use of the Control (Ctrl) modifier in Lightroom Classic, so you have this key at your disposal for any new shortcuts that you might want add. Likewise, the Ctrl key can be used if you want to free up an existing keyboard shortcut so that it can be used for one that's more important to you.

The next step is were you will need to be careful because the information you type into the Menu Title field must be typed exactly as it appears in the Lightroom Classic menu.

To add a new shortcut (i.e. the command doesn't already have a shortcut):

  • Carefully type the menu item you want to add into the Menu Title field. The example I have shown in figure 6 is Synchronize Folder, but notice that I have included the symbol for an ellipsis (...) because this is how it is listed in the Lightroom Library menu

  • Click on the Keyboard Shortcut field to activate it

  • Type the new combination. In the example shown I have used Ctrl+F

  • Click Add

  • Launch Lightroom Classic and check that the keyboard shortcut has been listed against the appropriate command

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Figure 6 - adding a new keyboard shortcut

As mentioned above, you can also free up an existing shortcut for use with a command you consider more important. For example, Show in Finder (Cmd+R), which is listed in the Library module Photo menu could be changed to say Ctrl+F, thus leaving Cmd+R for Read Metadata from file.

  • Carefully type Show in Finder into the Menu Title field

  • Click on the Keyboard Shortcut field to activate it

  • Type the revised key combination (e.g Ctrl+F)

  • Click Add

  • Launch Lightroom Classic and check that the new keyboard shortcut has been listed against the command. The steps followed up to this point will have freed up Cmd+R, which can now be remapped.

  • Close Lightroom Classic

  • Next type  Read Metadata from file into the Menu Title field

  • Click on the Keyboard Shortcut field to activate it

  • Type the revised key combination (e.g Cmd+R)

  • Click Add

  • Launch Lightroom Classic and check that the new keyboard shortcut has been listed against the command

I've been using the method outlined above to add new / remap keyboard shortcuts since Lightroom 1.0. In most instances it works well, but occasionally a command will be ignored. When this happens, it's a simple matter of deleting the shortcut from the list and adding a revised version. That said, it is better to delete the command after having first closed Lightroom Classic as not doing so will often end with the application crashing.

Remapping keyboard shortcuts - Windows

There are aspects on the Windows API that are less flexible than in macOS. This is particularly true of remapping keyboard shortcuts and modifier keys. It's not that it can't be done but rather it's not so easy and generally requires third party applications and or scripts. An example of a third party app compatible with Windows is AutoHotKey

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