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Tips & Tricks

Lightroom’s Quick Develop Panel Could Transform Your Lightroom Workflow

By Kishore Sawh on December 23rd 2017

I think it was a fortnight ago when I wrote a tutorial on the various methods and intricacies involved in moving images from one Lightroom catalogue to another, and the response was rather significant. What this signals, however, is that there are mobs of photographers out there who are Lightroom users, and at the same time are missing some of the key pieces of education about the program that could truly affect their workflow. Pareto’s law, and all that…

This, of course, is understandable, because Lightroom is an entirely robust system, the depths of which have only been explored, I’m utterly convinced, by the Adobe boffins, and freaks of nature like our very own Pye Jirsa for our benefit (see Lightroom Workshop for a Lightroom education like no other). Also, as photographers, I’ve found on a whole we approach technology as a stereotypical male – meaning we chuck aside the manual and just sort of stab away at buttons, fiddle with knobs, and then look for answers only when we come upon a question. Or, perhaps that’s just me.


While this is actually not a terrible approach, in my opinion. You may miss out on some gems, some of which are staring you right in the face. One of those has absolutely got to be the Quick Develop section within the Library module.

What do you use the Library module for? To scan? To flag, compare, and cull? No adjusting, right? You’d absolutely be forgiven for sliding right into the Develop module to do any edits, but it might just be that you don’t need nor want to. Here’s a little about Quick Develop that may make it the new ‘7 iron’ in your bag.

Quick Develop

Located on the right column of your Library Module, typically under your histogram, is where it sits and more often than not, the option to cascade the tab to show the various tools within goes unused. Should you click it, however, this is what you’ll see:


Saved Preset, White Balance, Tonal Control, and each of those cascade showing further drop down options – right from the Library module! This was, to me, extremely exciting and gratifying. As much as can be expected for being on a computer anyway. But it provides a lot of editing options, and granted, they are all global, but that’s advantageous, too.

What this allows you to do is to change all sorts of parameters about the images you use without the constant and incessant toggling between modules. Many of the adjustments you would want to do to an image, such as cropping, changing white balance, exposure and so forth are all right there. And if you hold down the Option/Alt key, some of those options change to give you different ones, extending the list of adjustments even more.


I’d wager that just those alone should reduce the amount of time you spend toggling, and even in the Develop module, significantly. And if you are a Lightroom user, you’re probably loyal to certain presets, like our very own acclaimed SLRL Preset System, or VSCO or whathaveyou, and all of those are available to you right from the same Quick Develop menu.


This, as it were, leads me neatly onto one of the other brilliant things about using this menu, and that is it lets you work in batches should you wish to do so. So presuming you’re in the Library module and perhaps you’ve made a host of changes to a set of images, but aren’t quite happy with it, and maybe you’re thinking they could benefit from a little more shadow, less exposure, and maybe some warmth – select the images in question, tap the buttons, and the changes are made to all. This applies to presets, cropping, the lot.



I’ve also written, not long ago, detailing the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ to using a split screen within Photoshop, where you can set the same image to appear twice on the same screen. This allows for comparison and allows you to see the edits to the whole image even if you’re working in a small section. While Lightroom, to my knowledge, doesn’t allow you to quite do the same, one of the other benefits to using the Quick Develop section is that you can pull up the ‘Compare’ screen and see the edits as you make them to one of the images via Quick Develop.


If, for example, you’re trying to match color in one photo to the next, you can bring them both up on screen within the Library Module and tweak one of them greatly until you reach your desired result. Or the same sort of benefit applies if you make a virtual copy of an image and want to test various changes to it having the ‘base’ image right beside for immediate feedback.

These are just some of the ways you can use this section of LR, and I’m sure you’ll find the ways it benefits your specific needs. If you found this helpful, and you want to learn more like it and to learn to wield Lightroom like you invented it, then really there’s no better avenue to go down than the Lightroom Workshop.

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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. Gabriel Rodriguez

    Great article again, Kish! Another one for the “Save” bin. Thanks!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Apologies for the late reply, but thank you for the kind words, and glad I could be of some help. Cheers Gabriel.

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  2. Alastair Merrill

    Good article, thanks! There’s a useful tutorial by Julieanne Kost that explains clearly the difference between the absolute adjustments that are made in the Develop module, and the relative adjustments made in the Library module using the Quick Develop panel. Worth watching if you’re not sure of the difference:

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  3. Tanya Goodall Smith

    Excellent article Sir. I had to Google the meaning of “boffins”. ;) I use the quick develop to apply edits to video footage in Lightroom, since video isn’t supported in the develope module.

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  4. Rafael Steffen

    Great article! Always on top of things!

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  5. T Davis

    I miss the functionality of the previous version of Lightroom where the quick edits were available via right click. You could work in the grid module and quickly select your presets there .

    That is the only thing that I feel was a step back when moving to LRCC

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  6. Justin Haugen

    i need an A.I. that will auto edit my photos for me. Have you seen the show Black Mirror on Netflix? I need one of those computer copies of me that I can teach to handle all my day to day stuff.

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  7. Alex Petrenko

    Never pressed this triangle before. And definitely – not the Alt key. Now it is much easier to bring several photos to the same color tone. Thanks,

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