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CTRL+Console For Lightroom | Is This The Best Way To Control Lightroom?

By Kishore Sawh on March 20th 2015


If you were to attend a large photographic trade show or conference, in all likelihood you would be under sensory overload. Everything is large, bright, and being shown off by beautiful women apparently allergic to loose fitting clothing. It’s a classic case of escalation – one company creates a lit sign 20 feet across, so another does so with a video, or tries to grab your attention with sound. It’s a modern day Moroccan market, everyone vying for your attention by assaulting the senses, and with the square footage occupied rivaling stadiums, the sheer volume or products and services to see simply beggars belief.

This volume presents a unique problem, that there’s so much to see, you’re going to miss something, and something you miss could be the best. Being part of the media and with an audience as large and wonderful as ours means it’s our luck and responsibility to seek out and find that which you may have missed but shouldn’t do without, and in that very vein I’d like to share with you what I found to be the most unique and coolest piece of tech at WPPi 2015. It’s called CTRL+Console Lightroom Sorter utility.


Encapsulated in a sentence for brevity, it is the first controller for Lightroom that turns your iPad into a multi-functioning, gesture-controlable, ergonomic display and control surface.

As it stands today, most programs have been designed around the limited functionality of the keyboard, with the use of shortcuts to improve the experience and speed, but a program like Photoshop, for instance, has over 1,000 shortcuts. A touchscreen allows for a different manner of computer interaction, and the CTRL+Console’s Lightroom Utility allows for control of many of Lightroom’s functions directly from the iPad, effectively turning complicated shortcuts that need to be memorized into intuitive, small, and quickly executed finger movements.


Through a series of buttons and gestures you’re currently able to:

  • Sort images
  • Star-rate images
  • Apply color labels
  • Flag as a pick or flag as rejected
  • Rotate
  • Undo & Redo actions
  • Alternate views: Grid, Dimmed, Full Screen
  • Move from Library to Develop Module

If you are a heavy Lightroom user, the moment you see this app in action it will likely be an a-ha moment. You’ll see how this could evolve your processes, and likely free creative expression. Even if you’re a beginner, this will hold appeal because it is so intuitive, you’ll be able to just begin, and get into the meat of your work, allowing you to make your learning curve and productivity curve a steep one.


CTRL+Console is the brainchild of photographer, videographer, and inventor Jeff Chow and already has a host of similar apps available for various creative programs such as Premier and Final Cut Pro, so there is already experience building the type.


I had a chance to see and touch the app myself and it’s apparent that this experience serves well because it just worked. There was no lag in the WiFi connection between iPad and laptop, and it looked inviting and stable. It’s also attractive and smart to use – imagine the face of Margot Robbie and the brain of Elon Musk, and in the sea of typical photography gear in the show rooms, it sat there like Bluetooth earbuds in a sea of gramophones.


And this, it would appear, is only the first step in the evolutionary process, as the plans for the app is to expand controllers to include control not singularly for the Library module, but for the Develop Module, which will bring a whole new way to approach Lightroom entirely. Sadly it’s not available as yet, but is soon to be.

Some of you may be thinking the keyboard was created by brilliant men and serves us so well to this day that we don’t need anything else, but it’s not in human nature to starve a fire, so sticking to something great because the people who built it were geniuses 40 years ago is like employing a team of smart Italians to build something because the Romans were so good at it and couldn’t be bested. I could be wrong, but it would appear, that this app, is progress.

[REWIND: Unleash Your Workflow By Learning to Use Lightroom & Photoshop Synergistically]

If you like the look and sound of this, I’d love to hear what you think of it, what you would want from it, maybe what you think it’s worth, or any general thoughts. I have no dog in the fight, but I will be bringing you up-to-date on its release and first impressions in real world use. You can get an idea of how these apps from CTRL+Console function from the video below:

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jeremy Fratkin

    Has anyone at SLR Lounge played with the preview unit of the Loupedeck Photo Editing Console for Lightroom? It’s supposed to be released towards the end of July 2017. I am curious if any people who demo products before the release have used it yet. It looks to have everything we need for the main basic functions of Lightroom in a sleek design for $200 less the cost of the full Palette kit. 

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  2. Dustin Baugh

    Great idea, but wish it was android and had options for tablet and phone use.

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  3. Daniel Hollister

    only bad thing is, that it seems to be for Ipad only… How about the many many android users?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Daniel, at this time I believe the focus will be on iOS for iPad, but I will speak with the developers and see what the future plans are for Android, and if and when implementation would come.

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  4. Peter Hagström

    Love the idea…!

    “….. allergic to loose fitting clothing” (Best line today! :) )

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  5. Lanza Coffin

    Great idea!

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  6. Chris Cameron

    The problem I see with this is that there is no tactile relationship between your fingers and the iPad screen.
    Thats fine when you’re looking at the iPad but means you’d have to keep flicking your eyes back to the iPad to make sure your fingers were in the right place.

    I have been using a Playstation controller for editing in Lightroom.
    Your fingers can find the buttons easily and your eyes don’t need to leave the screen.
    It speeds up editing and reduces stress on my finger and hand joints.
    If anyone’s interested in setting this up for them selves I have instructions in this blog post…

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  7. Mike Kropf

    Would this be able to be used in the develop module as well or is it simply for culling?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Mike, at the present time it’s just for the Library module but that doesn’t just mean culling. Furthermore, the developments for the Develop module are in the works.

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  8. Barry Cunningham

    Would have to see if it would help for sorting, but then I’d need to get an iPad too.
    Don’t see how it would help at all for adding keywording and descriptions, which is very keyboard-centric.

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  9. Richard Olender

    mmmm I don’t know
    I would have to try it to decide.
    Seems like a gimmick and not really worthwhile to me

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  10. Darcy Evans


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  11. Graham Curran

    At the moment there only appears to be apps for Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro. I can appreciate that an analog interface might be useful in some video editing but the price for them seems a bit expensive if it was applied to Light Room editing. Maybe for a pro who is dealing with hundreds of pictures every day but for an occasional user it needs to be a lot more affordable.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yes Graham, as stated in the article, this is not currently available, but it is about to be. It certainly will benefit the heavy user, but i do think the ease of it makes it appealing to all

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  12. John Cavan

    Looks pretty interesting, I’d be curious to see a demo of it in action. Mind you, I’d probably be more interested in an option like that for Photoshop instead, mostly because I’m in the stone ages when it comes to using Lightroom’s sorting and ranking features.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      HI John, I’m not sure what the plans are for Photoshop, and I myself am a heavier Photoshop user than of Lightroom, but I will say that the brilliance of this is that it would have you up to speed in no time with Lightroom’s features. Hopefully I can bring some video shortly. If you like, head to our instagram where I posted a short clip of using it in Vegas.

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  13. Brandon Dewey

    looks interesting, ill have to check this out.

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