Adjustment BrushesLightroom Tips

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. 



  1. Lawrence Watkins 1 January, 2015 at 21:07 Reply

    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.

  2. Mike Nelson Pedde 11 December, 2014 at 18:24 Reply

    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:


  3. Curtis 10 December, 2014 at 22:07 Reply

    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.

  4. Colin 10 December, 2014 at 19:51 Reply

    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.

  5. jlua 10 December, 2014 at 14:18 Reply

    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.

  6. Maurice Prokaziuk 10 December, 2014 at 09:42 Reply

    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

  7. Ben Palmer 10 December, 2014 at 08:11 Reply

    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.

    • Kathy 10 December, 2014 at 19:51 Reply

      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!!!

  8. Paul C 10 December, 2014 at 04:40 Reply

    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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