Quick Tip: Getting Better Results From Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool

This a quick little tip, but it’s sure a handy one. If you’re using the Spot Removal tool to remove a spot or a blemish and the results look kind of funky, it’s probably because the tool didn’t pick a similar enough area (text, tone and/or content wise) to give you a good fix. Take a look at the image below.


Above: The upper circle (the one with the white arrow pointing at it) is where the part I wanted to remove is located, but look at the lower circle where it sampled from. A fairly lame choice, and of course the fix doesn’t look realistic. Of course, I can grab the top circle and try to find a better location for the tool to sample from, but that’s where this tip comes in handy — you can have Lightroom do it for you:

Just press the ‘/’ (the slash key) on your keyboard, and Lightroom will instantly pick a different spot to sample from (see below).


Above: When I pressed the / key, it picked an entirely different spot. It was better, but it wasn’t great, so I just hit that same / (slash) key again. 


Above: the third time’s a charm! A much better location and my retouch looks a lot better.

How long did it take me to get there? About three-seconds — thanks to that keyboard shortcut.

Hope you find that helpful next time you’re removing spots, specs, or retouching (removing wrinkles, blemishes, etc.).



P.S. A big thanks to RC Concepcion for his great tip yesterday on Smart Collection ideas. 

Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at http://scottkelby.com

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  1. Excellent tutorial but still does not solve the problem of the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom 5 being quirky and has been since earlier versions.
    It has problems in that it seems to slow down considerably while working on an image.
    I have solved this problem by using a software program called DxO. Their Dust removal tool works much smoother without having to worry because “the tool didn’t pick a similar enough area” and the so called lasso need a bit more care in that is does not pick the right area where as the DxO dust removal tools blends with out something shooting off to find a similar are.
    But I do love Lightroom and and will use Dxo along side of LR5.

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  2. Fantastic tip, thanks Scott. keep the quick ones coming.

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  3. The / key tip is particularly handy if you do your cropping before your spot removal because although you may not see the area outside of the crop on screen, as far as LR is concerned the entire image is still there and usable for sample areas. In those cases you can’t move the replacement spot manually because it’s literally off the screen! Can be frustrating.

    If you’re interested, you can find links to over 200 sites with LR tips, tutorials and videos (including this one) here: http://bit.ly/LRTips


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  4. I already knew this one Scott 🙂 I have one to share however. If you’re in the Develop module and you need to quickly find a preset for your brushes you can begin to type the name of your preset after clicking the dropdown and it will highlight it. A simple tap of spacebar or enter once the one you want is highlighted will select it and apply it to the currently selected tool.

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  5. Also, if you’re in a photo where you can just tell LR isn’t going to get lucky, there’s a quicker alternative. Instead of click, select source circle, drag source circle to new location, there’s this: click and immediately drag and release. The initial click is what gets covered up, and the place you release is the source you’re pulling from. Much easier than hunting around and repositioning an existing circle.

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  6. This is another example of the annoying issue that Lightroom has with trying to use standard keyboard shortcuts on foreign character keyboards. Some popular shortcuts, like “\”, or “/”, and many others don´t work. I wished Lightroom finally has a keyboard shortcut re-mapper , just like Photoshop does.

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  7. Scott, you make my life so much easier. Great tip. And thanks Paul C on the suggestion not to do the lens correction first. I have some of my basic tasks in a preset(saves a lot of time not having to go through all the menus), but will do this after the spot removal

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  8. Excellent tip!! What a time-saver!

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  9. A brilliant tip Scott, loving these regular tips that you are doing lately thanks.

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  10. Thanks for the tip Scott! This will save a lot of time!!

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  11. Wow! I thought I knew Lightroom. This really is a killer tip. Thanks Scott. (Looking forward to the next London tour).

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  12. Thanks Scott, I learned something useful. Alas, I’m using a non-US keyboard and using the ‘/’ key (which requires Shift to be held down) doesn’t work. It works however with the ‘/’ on the numeric keyboard.

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    • Hey Ben — thanks for sharing that. Good to note that it works on the numeric keypad. 🙂

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  13. That is a great tip!! I always tried to move the circle myself.

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    • Thanks!!! I’ve been frustrated ever since LR took control of this function!!! I liked it better when I ha d control of the spot to pick…but this helps!!!

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  14. Awesome…. I’ve been dragging that sucker all over the place ever since they introduced it. HOWEVER… I have noticed it samples more effectively if the lens correction is turned off. I now do all my spot removal BEFORE applying lens correction and it is a lot quicker & more accurate. Maybe I just need to invest in a faster computer!

    Thanks, Scott, another top-tip

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    • Thanks for your tip, Paul C. Makes sense to apply the lene correction after doing spot fixes.

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    • Thank you Scott, for your well appreciated advice. I have been repositioning those little circles for years. Cheers, H. 😀

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    • What a great tip Thanks for sharing this is one I am definitely going to try. Thanks Again.

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    • Scott, Paul, thanks to both of you. Scott for the tip, and Paul for pointing out that it’s better to sample before lens correction. You guys just made my life easier on two levels.

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