Introduction to Lightroom’s Library Module

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This article is the first in our series Photo Editing in Lightroom 101. Throughout the series we’ll cover the details of Lightroom’s library and develop modules and how you can use Lightroom to improve your own photos. As new articles are published they will be added to this page. If you don’t want to miss future articles in the series, please subscribe to our RSS feed or our email newsletter.

Lightroom consists of several different modules: library, develop, map, book, slideshow, print, and web. Each module allows you to perform different functions, and the library module is essential for organizing and managing your photos. Lightroom is not only great software for editing your photos, it’s also a powerful tool for keeping your photos organized. In order to make use of Lightroom’s potential for organization you’ll need to grasp the basics of how the library module works and what you can do while you are in it.

This first article is just going to be an introduction to the library module, and in other articles we’ll look at the specifics in greater detail. For now, the objective is to become familiar with the user interface and the options that you will have from the library module.

First, to access it all you need to do is click on “library” at the top right of the screen.

Photo Editing in Lightroom 101 - Intro to the Library Module

Now that you are in the library module, let’s take an overview of the user interface. The screenshot below shows the library module, and each number corresponds with the explanation below the photo.

Photo Editing in Lightroom 101 - Intro to the Library Module

1. Grid/Loupe View

The central area of the library module will display photos in either grid view or loupe view. The grid view displays thumbnails and the loupe view shows only one photo in a larger size so you can see more detail. You can switch back and forth from grid to loupe view by clicking on the icons below the photos and towards the left side or your screen

Photo Editing in Lightroom 101 - Intro to the Library Module

2. Navigator

The navigator shows a preview of the selected image at the top of the left sidebar. Depending on the size of your thumbnails in the grid view, the navigator may show a larger version. You can drag the right edge of the sidebar to make it either wider or narrower, which will impact the size of the preview in the navigator. You can also click on the arrow to hide the navigator if you don’t want to use it.

3. File Organization

Below the navigator you’ll find the controls that will be used in your file organization, including catalogs, folders, and collections. We’ll go over the details of each in another article. To open up any of those options, simply click on the arrow to the left side.

4. Import and Export

In order to work with photos in Lightroom you will need to import them. They can be imported directly from your camera, from a folder on your hard drive, from an external hard drive, from a card reader, or from some other drive or device. You’ll want to export files when you want to use them outside of Lighroom, after you’ve edited them. If you’re working with RAW files or DNG files you will be creating JPG files during the export process. We’ll cover the details of importing and exporting later.

5. Compare Mode

There will be times when you want to compare photos side-by-side, and the compare mode makes this easy. Just click on the “X Y” icon next to the grid and loupe icons near the bottom of the screen and it will open the compare mode.

6. Thumbnail Size

When you are working in grid view you can increase or decrease the size of thumbnails by adjusting the slider. The size of the thumbnails, of course, impacts how many will be in each row, and how many you will be able to see on the screen at one time.

7. Metadata and Keywords

In the right sidebar you’ll find the metadata and keyword info. You can open either of these sections by clicking on the arrow to expand it. The metadata will include details like the time and date the photo was taken, the camera and lens used, the image resolution, exposure data, focal length, ISO setting, and whether the flash fired or not. The keywords are important for organizational purposes. During the import process, which we’ll go over later, you can enter keywords that apply to your photos. You can also enter or edit keywords at any time here in the library module. The keywords will make your life easier when you are trying to find a specific photo, or a certain type of photo, without browsing through hundreds or thousands of photos.

8. Quick Develop

While the develop module is what you will be using for the vast majority of your work editing and processing photos in Lightroom, you do have the option to make some basics edits right from the library module. In this quick develop section you can apply develop presets, and adjust things like white balance, exposure, contrast, tones, and vibrance. You can also reset any changes that have been made in the develop module or quick develop.

And that is a basic look at the most notable features and functions within the library module. In upcoming articles we’ll cover things like importing and exporting, working with metadata, organizing photos in catalogs and collections, and using ratings, flags and colors for more organization. And after that we will move on to the develop module where we’ll cover topics related to editing your photos.

If you don’t want to miss the other articles in this Photo Editing in Lightroom 101 series, please subscribe to our RSS feed or our email newsletter. As new articles are published they will be added to the series page, which will serve as an index for the entire series.