Like many things in Lightroom, the Library Toolbar is a customizable function that’s useful in any photographers workflow. In this article I’m going through my favorite 5 Toolbar functions that I use the most.

Learning the Library Toolbar in Detail in Lightroom 3

The Library Toolbar can put a lot of Lightroom’s Library tools right at your fingertips. The cool thing about Lightroom’s Toolbar system is that the functionality of the toolbar changes with each different Library Module.

Of course, we will cover the other module functionality in those specific chapters. For now, let’s go over the Library Toolbar functionality.



If we click on the small triangle on the very right side of the toolbar we can pull up the options on what we want on the Toolbar. You don’t want to have too many functions on your Toolbar because that will make it cluttered, but if you have too few then your Toolbar won’t be as useful. I find that 5 is the perfect amount, and the ones I have selected are View Modes, Painter, Sorting, Rotate, and Thumbnail Size.

lightroom library toolbar


lightroom viewmodes

Lightroom has 4 different view mode options (Grid, Loupe, Compare, and Survey), and if you ever forget the Library Hotkeys, you can switch View Modes by clicking on their icon in the Toolbar. Depending on you’re style of editing (whether you use the keyboard or the mouse more) it may be quicker for you to click on the icon with the mouse than it is to initiate the View Mode Hotkeys.


We’ve shown you different ways to apply labels, flags, and other data to your images, but the Painter is one of the easiest ways to apply it over many images, and it’s one of my favorites to use.

lightroom painter tool

When we select the Painter tool we have various options on what kind of data we want to apply to our images. Once you have selected what data you want to apply, you simply go over the images, click and drag, and then the data is “painted” onto the images. In the image below we have our “Red Label” selected on our Painting tool, and we click and dragged over our images to apply the label.


On the Toolbar we have the option to organize our photos in various sorting orders. When we click on this function in the Toolbar it gives us a few options.

lightroom sorting

This function is extremely useful, especially when you have thousands of images in your catalog and you’re looking for a particular set of images or even a single image.


lightroom rotate

This is another function where if you ever forget the hotkeys, then it’s extremely helpful to have on the toolbar. The shortcut is Ctrl+[ (Cmd + [ on Mac) to rotate left and Ctrl + ] (Cmd + ] on Mac) to rotate right. Having this function on the toolbar is helpful, especially when your hands are off the keyboard, because you just have to click rotate as needed. You can also select multiple images and rotate them at the same time.


When you’re in the Grid View you can control how big the thumbnails are with a slider in the toolbar. We can also control the size of the thumbnails by clicking + or – on the keyboard, but this is something I use frequently because my hand is on my mouse and the Thumbnail slider is readily available.