Five Hidden Features of the Lightroom Loupe View

Five Hidden Features of the Lightroom Loupe View

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If you want to get the most out of Lightroom then it’s a good idea to know how Loupe View and the other viewing modes in the Library module work.

What are viewing modes for? The short answer is that they let you look at and compare photos. They are a tool for helping you select the best photos from a shoot to be processed in the Develop module.

Loupe View

Loupe View is what you use when you want to look at a photo by itself on the screen, without comparing it to other images.

You also need Loupe View if you want to zoom in on your photos to check for fine detail such as focus accuracy, to see if any chromatic aberrations are showing or simply to see what it looks like viewed at 100% magnification.

Loupe View look something like this. I’m showing you the view with the four side panels hidden (you can use the Shift+Tab keyboard view to hide or reveal the panels).

Lightroom Loupe View

Press the letter ‘E’ on your keyboard to get to Loupe View from anywhere in Lightroom. Alternatively, if you’re in Grid View, press the space bar.

Learn more: Take Control of Lightroom’s Grid View

A few more things you need to know:

  • The above screenshot shows the Toolbar underneath the photo. Press ’T’ on your keyboard to hide or reveal the Toolbar.
  • Use the arrow keys to move between the photos in the current Collection or Folder.
  • Click anywhere on the photo to zoom. If there’s a delay that might mean you haven’t generated the appropriate previews needed for zooming.

You can learn more about this last point in The Ultimate Guide to Using Smart Previews in Lightroom.

Loupe View’s hidden features

There are a few things I’d like to show you about Loupe View that you may not know. They are Loupe View’s hidden features. Of course, they are not really hidden, but they might as well be if you don’t know they are there.

Hidden feature #1: Loupe View options

When you press the ‘I’ key on the keyboard Lightroom displays some information about the photo you are looking at in Loupe View in the top left corner of the screen. This is known as the Info overlay.

Lightroom Loupe View

By default, Lightroom displays the filename, the date and time the photo was taken, and the size of the photo in pixels. It also lets you know if the photo is a Virtual Copy (the words Copy 8 in the above example tell us that we are looking at Virtual Copy number 8 of this photo!)

If you press the ‘I’ key again the information changes.

Lightroom Loupe View

Now the overlay shows the filename, the exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and the focal length and lens used. Press the ‘I’ key again to hide the information overlay.

Here’s the hidden feature – you can customize the information overlays to display the information that you want to see.

Go to View > View Options to bring up the Library View Options window. You can also use the Cmd + ‘J’ (Mac) / Ctrl + ‘J’ (PC) keyboard shortcuts. Here you can tell Lightroom which information to display in each information overlay.

Lightroom Loupe View

The list of options is quite long, as you will see if you click on any of the drop down menus.

Lightroom Loupe View

If you think about the information you’d like to see when you press the ‘I’ key, you might decide that you’d like to change the defaults to something that is more useful for you. This saves you having to open the right-hand panels and check the Metadata panel for the information you are looking for.

You can also tick the ‘Show briefly when photo changes box’ under either one of the Loupe Info menus (but not both). When you do this, Lightroom displays the information overlay for five seconds when you use the arrow keys to move from photo to photo.

Hidden feature #2: Grids

Grids are useful for checking if the horizon or any buildings in your photo are straight. In this photo the grid shows me that the roof of the house is horizontal.

Lightroom Loupe View

Start by ticking the ‘Show Grid box’ in the Toolbar (if you don’t see this option, click on the white arrow on the right hand side of the Toolbar and select Grid Overlay from the menu). Alternatively, go to View > Loupe Overlay > Grid.

Lightroom Loupe View

Use the slider to set the size of the squares. If you hold the Cmd key down (PC: Ctrl key) you can alter the size of the grid and the opacity of the lines by mousing over the Size and Opacity settings displayed at the top.

Lightroom Loupe View

Hidden feature #3: Guides

An alternative to using the grid is to go to go to View > Loupe Overlay and select the Guides option. Lightroom places two lines over the photo that you can move by holding down the Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) keys. Just like the grid, the guides are useful for checking things like the straightness of horizons and buildings.

Lightroom Loupe View

Hidden feature #4: The Loupe Overlay

The next feature is more likely to interest professional photographers than hobbyists. It’s a good visualization tool if you are interested in submitting images to stock libraries or magazines. That’s because magazine often need photos with empty space to drop in headlines or text.

The Loupe Overlay lets you place dummy text over your image so you can see whether there’s enough empty space. A pro shooting to a brief can probably obtain an official file from their client to help. But you can make up your own using Photoshop. The only criteria is that the file you use for the overlay is saved as a PNG file as it supports transparency.

To use the overlay go to View > Loupe Overlay > Layout Image. Navigate to the folder containing your overlay and open it to see how it works with your photo. Here you can see how this photo might look used as part of a double page spread in a magazine.

Lightroom Loupe View

Hidden feature #5: Mirror image mode

Would you like to know how your photo would look if it was back to front? Just go to View > Enable Mirror Image Mode to see. Note that this effects all photos, not just the one you’re looking at, and that it works in all viewing modes. In other words, photos stay flipped until you disable Mirror image mode.

This hidden feature will help you create portraits that please other people. People are used to seeing themselves back to front in mirrors. As a result, they often prefer flipped portraits, as this is how they see themselves in a mirror.

Lightroom Loupe View

Lightroom Loupe View

Mirror image mode only works in in the Library module. When you open a photo in the Develop module it reverts back to normal. You can flip an image in the Develop module by going to Photo > Flip Horizontal.


Lightroom’s Loupe View is really useful for viewing your photos. The hidden features revealed in this article will help you make the most of Loupe View and streamline your Library module workflow. Check the links below to learn more about Lightroom and the Library module.

Further reading

About Andrew S. Gibson

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, publisher, traveler, workshop leader and photographer based in the UK. He started writing about photography while traveling in Bolivia, and has been published in many prestigious photography magazines including EOS magazine, where he worked as a Writer and Technical Editor for two years. He is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences. Check out his photography ebooks here.

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