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Posted by Steve Messa – October 30, 2013 browse all

Learning the View Functions in Lightroom’s Library Module

Getting to know Lightroom can be a little tricky for newcomers or for users migrating from Photoshop, but Lightroom’s benefits to a digital photographer are significant because the program is built with the digital photographer in mind.

In this post, I examine those benefits in regards to the Library module’s viewing functionalities. You’ll leave this post with a better understanding of these viewing functionalities and a solid grasp of where they might fit into your workflow.

Lightroom’s View Functions in the Library Module

In the Library module, a user has four basic viewing options:

  • Grid View (shortcut G)
  • Loupe View (E)
  • Compare View (C)
  • Survey View (N)
There’s also a Filmstrip view directly below these icons that stays consistent in all view modes. Pressing Shift and then Tab will maximize the area that these view functions display, giving you a larger viewing area to work with. You can return to your normal view size by pressing Shift then Tab again.

Let’s examine each these view modes more closely.

Grid View

Grid view gives you a broader overview of your photos, allowing you to examine as many as 40 photos at once, though the detail varies depending on how many you choose to view and the size of our device’s screen. To view more photos in Grid view, simply zoom out with the touchpad, and to view fewer (and larger) photos, zoom in.  For more detailed information on Grid view, see Rob Sylvan’s tip sheet.

Loupe View

Loupe view allows you to examine a specific photo more closely. Holding Z or spacebar will allow you to momentarily zoom in on the image, and releasing the key will zoom out. When zoomed in, simply adjust the level of zoom with your track pad. You can also display and cycle through the photo’s metadata by pressing I.

Compare View

Press C to jump to Compare view and you’ll see the primary photo you’ve selected (dubbed “Select”), and then the previously selected photo or the photo directly to the Select’s right will be displayed alongside it (and dubbed the “Candidate”). You can change the Candidate photo by pressing the left or right arrow on your keyboard. This function makes sifting through similar photos a simpler process, and once you select the winner between the two, you can make it your Select and then continue to compare it to other Candidates.

Survey View

Survey View differs from Compare View in that you can select and view multiple photos in one screen, rather than only two. Jump to Survey View by pressing S, then hold down the Commandfunction and select the photos that you want to survey.

This multi-select feature makes choosing between larger numbers of similar photos easier, but also retains the ability to rate, star and flag your chosen photos. Moreover, when you’re working with images that are all in a specific folder, Survey View also provides the ability to reorder the chosen photos with a mere click and drag. If you aren’t working with photos in the same folder, this function is disabled.

As you can see, each viewing function in Lightroom has it’s purpose, and while there are certainly some overlaps, learning the ins and outs of each function has its benefits.

Which view function gets the most use in your workflow? Let us know in the comments below!  

Steve Messa

Director of Sales and Marketing at Mosaic: A NH tech/software company dedicated to helping photographers access, share and protect their photos.

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