The Grid View in Lightroom is used for viewing the photos in your Folders, Collections or Collections Sets.
Grid View is important because it’s the first place in Lightroom that you are likely to view your photos.
But what you may not have realized is that you can customize the Grid View so that it displays the information you personally want to see. Ultimately this makes your workflow faster as you don’t have to go searching for it.
How to get to Grid View
If you’re not in Grid View you can get there from any part of Lightroom by pressing the G key. If you’re in another part of the Library module, such as Loupe View, you can also get there by clicking the Grid View icon in the Toolbar.
What does the Lightroom Grid View do?
Lightroom’s Grid view displays thumbnails of photos inside the currently selected Folders, Collections, Collection Sets or search results.
This is what it looks like.
These are the main sections.
The Filter bar: marked in yellow. If you can’t see the Filter bar press the backward slash (‘\’) key. You can use the same key to hide it.
The Filter bar is for searching your selected Folders/Collections/Collection Sets.
The Content window: marked in green. This is where Lightroom displays the image thumbnails.
The Toolbar: marked in blue. Press ‘T’ if you can’t see it.
The left- and right-hand panels: Go to the Collections panel, Catalog panel or the Folders panel on the left to select the Folders/Collections/Collection Sets to view. If you are well organized and use Collections then you will spend most of your time in the Collections panel.
Use the right-hand panels to access your photos’ metadata.
Press the Tab key to hide (or reveal) the left- and right-hand panels simultaneously. Click on the gray arrows at the edges of the screen to show or hide just one set of panels.
How to customize the Lightroom Grid View
There are several ways to customize the Lightroom Grid View so that you can see the information that is relevant to you, and hide the data you don’t want to see.
The shortcuts above for hiding and showing the Toolbar, Filter bar and left- and right-hand panels are a starting point.
But there’s one more thing you can do to customize Grid View. That’s to set up the appearance of the cells where thumbnails are displayed, and select what information is displayed there.
The Content window
Lightroom displays photo thumbnails in the Content window. Each thumbnail, plus the gray border around it, is called a cell.
There are two types of cells – Compact and Expanded.
Here’s an example of two Compact cells. Compact cells may look different for you, depending on your settings.
I’ve numbered the important information.
1. The photo’s filename.
2. The white flag indicates this photo is flagged as a pick.
3. The big number 42 shows this image is the forty-second in the display sequence.
4. The light gray border means this photo is selected.
5. The yellow border shows that you have applied a yellow color label to this image. This photo is selected, so Lightroom displays a thin border.
If the image is not selected, Lightroom applies the color label to the entire border, as you can see in the cell on the right.
6. These stars show that the image has a five star rating.
7. There are two icons at the bottom right of the photo (you may see different icons depending on what you have done to the image). The icon on the left indicates that the photo has been added to at least one Collection. The icon on the right tells you that the photo has Develop adjustments.
Tip: If you hover the mouse over an icon and keep it still, Lightroom displays a label to tell you what the icon means. It appears after about two seconds.
8. The gray circle in the top right indicates that the photo has been added to the Target Collection. If the photo isn’t in the Target Collection, you’ll see a hollow circle instead. Click on the circle to add the photo to the Target Collection, or the gray circle to remove it.
Note: The circles are only displayed when you move the cursor over the cell.
Tip: To see what Collections the photo has been added to right-click on the thumbnail and go to the Go to Collection option. Click on a Collection name to open that Collection in Grid View.
9. Click on these arrows to rotate the photo. The arrows are only displayed when the cursor is on the cell.
Expanded cells are larger than Compact cells and contain more information. I’ve marked the parts that are different.
1. Lightroom displays information such as filename, camera settings and time and date at the top of the Expanded cell.
2. The rating and color label are shown at the bottom.
If your Compact or Expanded cells look different to mine it’s because Lightroom lets you customize the layout of the display to show as much or as little information as you want.
You can customize the display by going to View > View options (or use the keyboard shortcuts PC: Ctrl+J, Mac: Cmd+J) to bring up the Library View Options window.
I’ve marked some of the more interesting options.
1. Show Grid Extras. Select whether you want Lightroom to display Compact Cells or Expanded Cells.
A third option is to untick the Show Grid Extras box. When you do this Lightroom removes all information from the cell. The display looks like this.
Tip: Press J on the keyboard to cycle between Compact Cells, Expanded cells and the information free view shown above.
2. Show clickable items on mouseover only. Clickable items are the arrows in the bottom corners that you click to rotate the image, and a gray flag that tells you the photo is unflagged.
If you untick this box Lightroom displays the clickable items all the time. If you tick it Lightroom only displays them when you move the cursor over the cell.
3. If the color labels annoy you, or you just don’t use them, untick this box to turn them off. The menu on the right lets you adjust the intensity of the color tint.
4. Untick these boxes if you don’t the information displayed next to the thumbnail. Applies to both Compact and Extended cells.
5. Select what information you would like to see displayed in Compact cells. The menus on the right let you set what information Lightroom displays above and below the thumbnail.
6. Select the information you would like to see displayed in Extended Cells. Select the data you want to see from the menus.
Tip: Use the menus to set Lightroom to display the information that you want to see in Grid View.
Customizing the Grid View display with the Toolbar
There are two ways you can change the Grid View display using the Toolbar (remember you can use the T keyboard shortcut to show or hide the Toolbar).
1. Use the Thumbnails slider to change the size of the photo thumbnails.
2. Click on the Sort menu to select the criteria by which you want Lightroom to order the images displayed in Grid View. You can also click on the AZ icon to reverse the order in which Lightroom displays thumbnails.
How to customize the Toolbar
Lightroom also gives you the option of deciding which items to display in the Toolbar. You can tidy up your display by removing icons you never use.
To do so, click on the right arrow on the very right of the Toolbar. Lightroom displays the menu below.
The ticks indicate which items Lightroom displays in the Toolbar. Click on any of the menu items to add or remove them.
If you have any questions about Grid View, or any aspect of Lightroom’s Library module, then please let us know in the comments.
Read these tutorials next to learn more about Lightroom.
The next steps
If you’d like to learn more about Lightroom I suggest you sign up to our Introducing Lightroom free email course (see below).
My ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book One – The Library Module will help you learn how to use the Lightroom library module to import, organize and search your photos.