Friday Tip – Auto Stacks

That weekend time is upon us again and I know mine will be a great one. Why? Because any weekend that I don’t have to run 26 miles is a good weekend :) OK, here’s the tip. Wanna save some time when trying to organize your photos into stacks? Let Lightroom do it. There’s a little known option hidden in the Stacking menu in Lightroom’s Library module. It’s called Auto-Stack by Capture Time. When you choose it you get a simple dialog with one slider. When you move it to the left you get more stacks because Lightroom uses less time as a reference between captures. When you move it to the right you get fewer stacks because Lightroom allows more time between captures. The coolest thing is that it automatically computes how many stacks you’ll end up with and how many unstacked photos you’ll wind up with right in the dialog before it stacks them. You have to be in the Library module and go under Photo > Stacking to find it. Well that’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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  1. Hi Matt,

    Due to effectiveness reasons I love to work with stacks; It’s a great feature. But I’m wondering whether there is a way to use the lightroom stack feature in combination with CS3 HDR merge. Do you know a smart way?

    Kind regards,


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  2. Didn’t know stacks!! But they are great.
    I’ve tried auto stack with a couple of colections, and it works perfectly.

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  3. I would really like LR be able to stack based on bracketing. The problem with auto stacking that I see if that it would stack things that are done with bracketing and stacks that are just multiple shots in a row. To me those are different. But that might just be me. Thanks for the great blog Matt.

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  4. Nice tip.

    I’ve used this in the past for IR images where I take one photo non IR then 3 photos at different exposures. I’ve also used this to quickly stack panos.

    Thanks for the blog. It’s the first one in My Yahoo.


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  5. I used stacks all the time back when I was using Elements Organizer, it’s a really handy tool. I’m very much a noob with Lightroom yet, and was wondering if it’s possible to stack your Raw+Jpegs together somehow. I tried autostack with :01 second differential, and it mostly does ok, but still occasionally gets more than one set of raw+jpeg when I’m taking multi-shot sequences. Is it possible to stack just one raw and its jpeg together?

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  6. Stacking works manually as well. When you’re in the folders or library node, you can select several photographs and then either stack them via “CTRL+G” shortcut or by using the “photo/stacking/group into stack” drop-down option. This should work for all formats Lightroom actively can handle.

    BUT this will not work when in the collections view, so for me stacking is not really useful. Since I do switch between collection and keyword node form time to time but very rarely use the library node I gave up on stacking altogether.

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  7. Auto-stacks: so close yet so far. I can’t believe you can’t auto-stack a RAW together with its (same file name) JPEG. (Sorry, even a 1 second difference doesn’t work right.) Adobe, what are you thinking?

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  8. hi, this is Smith this is too good itÂ’s possible to stack your Raw+Jpegs together somehow. I tried autostack with :01 second differential, and it mostly does ok, but still occasionally gets more.

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  9. Wow. I can’t believe how incredibly helpful that one tip was! This is perfect for my interior shoots with 3 bracketed versions of almost every shot. Wonderful!

    I’m so glad I was able to come straight your blog, search for “stacks” and find the perfect thing!

    Cheers, Matt!

    -Nicole Raine

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