Viewing Photos In Different Modes Inside Adobe Lightroom

  • Thread starter JodyBuchanan
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May 10, 2021
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While working in Lightroom, we’ve got a lot of image viewing modes at our disposal. While I’ve already discussed a few of them in my previous Lightroom posts, I thought a deeper, more thorough, look would be helpful. Especially if you’re a power-user. If you use this program on a daily basis, these view modes are going to help tremendously. I’ll also include just a handful of keyboard shortcuts so you can save a boatload of time as well as impress your friends while you fly through your collections of photographs. I’m going to dive right in here, so get your note pads out and sharpen your pencils.

Keyboard Shortcuts​

I’m including all the keyboard shortcuts in this top section for clarity’s sake. I know you’ll skip right over this area and that I’ll discuss all of these shortcuts in more detail below, but for reference, I think clustering everything here will make for an easier, more organized experience if you want to refer back to this post in the future. If you want, simply browse what I include directly below and then move on by to the “Grid View Mode.”

G – Grid view mode.

E – Loupe view mode.

Tab – Removes side panels.

L – Dim lights and lights out mode.

Shift + Tab – Removes side and bottom panels.

F – Full screen mode.

N – Survey view mode.

Grid View Mode​

The first view is actually very simple to grasp. It’s the default view Lightroom gives you right after you import some photos. It’s called the “Grid” view and it displays all your images as thumbnails right inside the center content box. As an added (and very helpful) bonus, you can see the same images as a filmstrip across the bottom of the screen.


In the screenshot above, you’ll notice that I circled two areas in red. The circle to the left is around the Grid view mode button. Basically, when that’s highlighted in white, you’re in this mode.

If you hover your mouse pointer over the Grid view button, you should see a small information box appear that tells you the name of the mode the button controls as well as the keyboard shortcut for the mode. In this case, if you’re in another viewing mode and would like to return to Grid view, simply tap the “G” on your keyboard and you’ll return to there.

If you take a look at the red circle to the right, you’ll notice it’s surrounding a slider. This slider controls the size of your thumbnails. Slide it to the left and you get smaller thumbnails and slide it to the right and you get larger ones.

Loupe View Mode​

If you’d like a larger view of a particular image, there are a few ways to go about getting one. The first method is, while in Grid view, to simply click an image in the center content box. When you do this, you’ll notice that the slightly larger (or smaller, if your thumbnail slider is all the way to the right) is located in the upper left corner of Lightroom. Now, if you head down to the thumbnails located in the filmstrip, down at the bottom of the program, all you need to do is hover over an image to get that image in the upper left to change.

Sometimes, that upper left image isn’t large enough and you want to see something even bigger. If this is the case, you can click an image once in either the center content box or down in the filmstrip and click the “Loupe” view button down near the Grid view button.


Once you click this button, you should see your image appear in the center of the screen.

Another method of entering Loupe view is to double-click the image you’re interested in while in Grid view. This will give you the large photo as well. And lastly, if you click the “E” on your keyboard, you’ll get the same result.

You may have already discovered how to navigate through your images while in Loupe view mode. If you have a mouse with a center roller button, you can hover over the large picture in the center of your screen and roll up and down. This will bring you to the left and right of the displayed photo. You can also navigate using the filmstrip. All you need to do is click an image. Lastly, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard for the same effect.

There is one final piece of information I want to share regarding the Loupe view. If you notice, while hovering over the large image, you’ll see your mouse pointer switch over to a magnifying glass. If you click once, your image will grow even larger for an up-close inspection that you can drag around. If you click again, it will return to its original size.

Hiding Panels For a Distraction Free View​

This section is going to be quick. I want to let you in on two keyboard shortcuts that will clean up some clutter in your interface. If you refer back to the post I wrote about creating a cleaner workspace in Photoshop, you’ll see that we can perform a similar function in Lightroom.

If you want to remove the side panels from Lightroom, all you need to do is click the “Tab” key on your keyboard. You can do this while in either Grid or Loupe view modes.


If you click the Tab key again, you’ll return to your original view.

Now, if you would like to remove the side and bottom panels, you’ll need to tap the “Shift” and the “Tab” keys. If you do this, almost everything in Lightroom will disappear and you’ll be left with a rather large view.


Click those two keys again and you’ll return where you started.

I’ve got a quick tip for you. If you’d like to view one of the hidden panels while in either mode I’ve discussed above, you’ll have to roll your mouse over one of the collapsed panels that are located at any one of the sides of Lightroom. These collapsed panels can be identified by small white arrows that face inward. If you roll over one without clicking on it, the panel will expand. When you roll away, the panel will collapse again. If you roll over one and click, the panel will expand and stay expanded.


Just to let you know, you can always hide a panel without using the keyboard shortcuts I described above by moving your mouse to the outside edge of Lightroom and clicking one of those black bars identified by the white arrows. This will have the same effect as above, but will also offer a bit more flexibility. By using this method, you can collapse any panel you want, one at a time.

Dim & Lights Out View Mode​

This next trick is pretty cool. As mentioned in a Photoshop post, you can really get some nice contrast between your images and your interface with just a few simple clicks. And what’s especially neat about Lightroom is that you can perform this next operation in virtually any of the viewing modes I’m describing in this post.

To demonstrate this, let’s go back to hiding only the side panels. So, if we click the “Tab” key, we get an interface that look like this:


Let’s say that, while in this “collapsed side panel” state, we wanted to shade the interface, or as they say, dim the lights. To accomplish this, all we need to do is tap the “L” key on our keyboards.


If you look closely, you’ll see that the lights aren’t all the way out. The areas surrounding the photograph are barely visible, but are indeed visible.

In the next example, I’m going to click “Shift + Tab” on my keyboard to collapse all the panels that surround my image. Once that’s done, I’m not going to click “Lonce – I’m going to click it twice. This will bring barely visible to invisible. Everything surrounding my photo will be completely dark.


Again, if you click the left and right arrows on our keyboard, you’ll have the ability to scroll through your images. Sort of like a manual slide show.

To return to your original state, or to turn the lights back on, simply click the “L” key once more.

Full-Screen View Mode​

For the largest viewing area possible and to browse your images with your full screen, you’ll need to tap the “F” key on your keyboard. By doing this, you’ll essentially remove Lightroom from the ball field and will isolate your image. Again, you’ll have the ability to scroll through your photos by using your left and right arrows on your keyboard.


To get out of full screen mode to head back to where you began, click the “F” key once more.

Survey View Mode​

Above and beyond all the view modes I’ve covered in this post, Lightroom also gives us the ability to view specific images together. For instance, at the very end of my example collection, I’ve got four photos that I’d like to take a look at simultaneously. I want to see them side-by-side or stacked (basically near one another) to check out which ones I’d like to keep and which ones I’d like to discard. Viewing these images together like this is referred to as “Survey Mode.”

In order to select the photos I’m interested in viewing, I need to click the first image and then hold down the “Ctrl” key one my keyboard. By doing this, I can click on the remaining images I’m interested in, in any order I wish (scattered). If all my photos are in a row, I can click the first image and then hold down the “Shift” key and then click the last image. In Grid view, my selected images will look something like this:


As you can see, we can select our images from either the center panel or the filmstrip panel.

Once our photos are selected, we can either click the “Survey View” button or click the “N” key on our keyboards. I’ve circled the Survey view button in the screenshot below. Also, this is what that mode looks like with my selected photographs.


As I may have mentioned earlier, we can combine Survey mode with dimming the lights and lights out. We can also collapse and expand panels while in this mode.

One of the last things I want to share with you is how to go about removing one of the selected images from Survey mode. And for that, I’m going to turn the lights out and collapse my panels.


If you take a look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that I circled a small “X” in the lower corner of one of the photos. That “X” appears when I hover over an image. If I click the “X,” I can remove that photo from my selected images. What was once the screenshot above will turn into this next one below.