In this video from our Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD, we will go over how to use the Copy and Paste Buttons, which are found under the left side panels of Lightroom 4. Like the Previous Button that we explained in our “How to Use the Previous and Reset Buttons in Lightroom 4” tutorial, the Copy and Paste buttons are also useful for batch processing images taken similar scenes with similar camera settings. In this tutorial, we will discuss the difference between the Copy/Paste Buttons and the Previous Button in Lightroom 4.

Watch the video or continue reading the article below!

Watch the Video

The Copy Button

The Copy Button is right next to the Paste Button, underneath the left side panels in the Develop Module of Lightroom 4.

The Copy Button allows you to copy develop settings to the Lightroom Clipboard. To copy the develop settings applied to an image, simply click on the Copy Button or press “Ctrl + Shift + C.” (On a Mac, press “Cmd + Shift + C” of course)


The Paste Button

Next, the Paste Button allows you to paste the develop settings from the Lightroom Clipboard onto any image that you select. To paste these develop settings, simply click on the Paste Button or press “Ctrl + Shift + V.”

The Copy/Paste Buttons vs. The Previous Button

The “Previous” Button, found under the right side panels of the Develop Module in Lightroom 4, will take the develop settings from the previously selected image and pastes those settings onto whatever image is currently selected.  The hotkey for the Previous button is “Ctrl + Alt + Shift + V”

Essentially, this is just a more automated version of the traditional “Cut and Paste” system; Lightroom always remembers which image you selected last, and the “Previous” button is ready to paste every setting from that image to your currently selected image.  Note, however, that it will paste ALL of the previous images’ settings onto the current image.


An Example of Using the Copy/Paste Buttons

First select an image and make some adjustments to it. For our image below, we have made adjustments in the Basic Panel (press “Ctrl + 1” to expand) and you can see a clear improvement in the overall contrast and color of the photo so we are ready to copy these develop settings to another image. Simply click on the Copy Button or press “Ctrl + Shift + C”. Below is the image that we will be using in this tutorial.

The image on the left is the original image, while the image on the right has adjustments made to it.


Once you click on the Copy Button or press “Ctrl + Shift + C,” the Copy Settings Dialogue Box will appear. Here, select the settings you actually want to copy to the Lightroom Clipboard. To manually select your settings, you can click “Check None” and then select just the one or two settings that you would like to copy.

For example if you only want to copy and paste a slight boost to your Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance so that you can apply this type of general “boost” to any image, any time, …then just select those three options and click “Copy” in the lower right of the dialog box.

You can also click on “Check All” to copy everything to the Lightroom Clipboard. However, similar to setting up a preset, if you select “Check All,” a lot of settings may either bet set at their defaults, or to something that you would rather not be pasting to all your other images.  So we usually recommend that you don’t use “Select All” in the Copy Settings Dialogue Box.  If you really need to copy EVERY single setting, you might as well just use the “Paste Previous” command!

For our image, we will first click on “Check None” in the Copy Settings Dialogue Box. Then, we will check the boxes next to “Basic Tone” and “Clarity” since those are the only adjustments we changed in the Basic Panel. In addition, we highly recommend that you check the box next to “Process Version” because otherwise you can incorrectly affect the actual options within the Basic Tone Panel. So leave “Process Version” checked unless you do in fact intend to paste settings from older images edited in Lightroom 3, for example. After we have selected the settings we want in this dialogue box, click on “Copy.”


Once you click on “Copy,” the develop settings have been copied to the Lightroom Clipboard and you can start pasting these develop settings to any image by clicking on the Paste Button or pressing “Ctrl + Shift + V.”

Batch Processing

The Copy/Paste Buttons and the Previous Button are all extremely useful in batch processing images rapidly. As you go through a photo shoot in Lightroom 4, you will most likely find that each image is shot in a similar lighting condition as the last, and you can either cut-and-paste the settings from one main image as you go through a scene, or you may be able to simply hit “Previous” each time.  Each tool has it’s uses, and you’ll want to find a consistent workflow that is best for your style of shooting and editing!

Editing this way you will achieve one specific goal:  Avoid performing the same adjustments twice!  With tools like these at your disposal, you should never have to perform simple adjustments like exposure or contrast boosts twice, especially if the images are right next to each other and are clearly shot in the same scene.

So in the end, your goal is to only have to perform minor tweaks to individual images as necessary, and do most of the “heavy lifting” in batches.

Conclusion & Learn More!

The Copy/Paste Buttons and the Previous Button are two very useful systems that can be used for batch processing to save time in post production.  One important difference to remember is that, unlike the Previous Button, you can use the Copy/Paste Buttons to copy and paste develop settings onto any images selected, and you can be more exclusive with which settings get copied.

We hope you enjoyed this article and video excerpt from the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD. Stay tuned for our next article and episode!

The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD is a 14 hour video workshop turning any Lightroom novice into a complete master of Lightroom 4 in no time! The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop can be purchased by itself, or within the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection, which also contains our award winning and industry standard Lightroom 4 Preset System, as well as the Lightroom 4 Workflow System.