Lightroom Tips

Friday's Tip – The Alt/Option Key

Woo Hoo! It’s Friday and it’s a long weekend (Memorial Day on Monday) – you can’t beat that. Today my tip is simple – the Alt/Option key… just press it every now and then. Seriously, I know it’s weird but that old Alt/Option key changes certain sliders when you press it. For example, if you hold down the Alt key (Option on Mac) and start dragging the Exposure slider (or the Shadow slider for the darks), you’ll see everything turn black. As you drag toward the right, you’ll eventually start seeing some colors appear. That’s Lightroom’s way of telling you those areas will be clipped (all white or all black) if you don’t pull back on the slider. It’s a good visual way to set your exposure and shadow settings without leaving your clipping warnings (those obnoxious blue and red splotches that appear on your photos) on all the time.

But it doesn’t stop there. Try it in the Split Toning panel when adjusting the Hue slider. It gives you a 100% saturated preview of the color you’re hovering over. Also give it a try in the Detail panel when sharpening. It works for a few of the sliders there.

Finally, if you know of anymore feel free to add them as a comment here. I’m sure I missed a few. But don’t be alarmed if I delete your comment, and just update my post and take full credit for your blatant reminder that I missed a use of the Alt/Option key 🙂 (just kidding). Enjoy your weekend folks and if it’s a 3-day weekend for you, enjoy it even longer.



  1. Klemen 24 May, 2008 at 17:58 Reply

    Hi all you nice people out there 🙂
    So, here’s the thing. We all know transferring presets from LR1.4 to LR2b isn’t a big deal and that it works (almost) seamlessly. But here’s my story.
    A friend of mine made a photo of a snail. He imported it in his LR1.4, and I’ve put it in LR2b. It was a Pentax K10D raw DNG file. So he made his adjustments, I’ve made mine… And later we compared the results. I liked his “interpretation”, so I’ve asked him to post some screen shots of his settings and tried to set up the same thing in my LR. And I got a totally different result. Hm? So I’ve asked him to create a preset, which he emailed to me. I imported the preset in LR2b, applied it… And it was still incorrect. So I’ve tried the same in LR1.4, imported the dng file, applied the preset and it was the same as my friend’s pic. OK, strange! I’ve converted the photo to jpeg, applied the preset in both and thotos looked the same in both LRs. I’ve tested the preset on one CRW file (Canon raw), and it was the same in both LRs. So nothing wrong with the preset, I suppose. OK, to cut the story short…

    I would kindly ask anyone, who has an option to test the dng file and the preset in LR1.4 and LR2b, to post the results (a simple “Pic looks the same/doesn’t look the same” will do). I’ve uploaded a zip with a dng and lrtemplate file here:
    Thanks in advance!
    (Also, if someone has a chance to test it with some other “non-Pentax” dng, it would be great!)
    P.S. I know it’s not post related, sorry about that!

  2. Rod 24 May, 2008 at 11:23 Reply

    Unfortunately the two HDR products mentioned above are pretty much useless for those using a Mac as neither one will run natively in that environment.


  3. Sean McCormack 23 May, 2008 at 23:06 Reply

    Let’s see..

    Alt will turn the Adjustment brush into an Eraser,
    Alt will turn Clarity and Vibrance into Sharpening and Saturation in Quick Develop.
    Alt in crop lets you drag everything into the center.

    Alt in Sharpening lets you see luminosity, radius effect area, detail effect and the actual mask.

    Alt in Keyword Sets activates the Keypad to add Keywords

    Alt actives Solo mode in the panels and in Export.

    There’s a wee start..

  4. Clyde Wallin 23 May, 2008 at 17:10 Reply

    After reading your remarks concerning the Alt key, I discovered by accident that if, after you’ve adjusted the Exposure and the Blacks to a point that you like, you still have some clipping in the highlights, you can hold down the Alt key while bringing up the Recovery slider until the clipped areas disappear (the lights go out) and you can recover the blown out areas.(I assume this works on a Mac as well as a Windows machine.)
    This does not work for the Fill light slider, however.

    Also, I’ve been following your HDR comments: Don’t know if you are aware of easyHDR or not, but I think you’d like it, since it will give you a nice picture and not a ‘surreal’ photo, although you can tweak it for that…if that’s what you want. I like and use both Photomatix Pro and easyHDR. If you’re interested the link is as follows:

    Clyde Wallin

  5. Seim Effects 23 May, 2008 at 14:30 Reply

    Cool tip Matt. There’s so many little nuggets to be has in pro level software.

    You inspired me to try this out, so I hit alt in the D module. I noticed that all panels change a little when alt/option is pressed, and not just sliders.

    You probably know this, but for example if you hit ALT the “Presence” panel will change to “Reset Presence” and if you click on the text it will reset that panel to default. This seems to work on each panel independently.


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