Lightroom – Target Adjustment Tool

by Douglas Wade

There is a little tool in Lightroom’s Develop Module that you may not have noticed before. It’s contained in many of the panels and called the Targeted Adjustment Tool. It is a simple little tool that basically samples an area of your image and will allow you to easily modify one or more panel adjustment sliders.

It is available in the Tone Curve, Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and B&W panels (but may not be available on all panels in older versions of Lightroom). When available, it looks like a small circle with a dark dot in the center.


How does the Target Adjustment Tool work? For this example, I quickly turned a color image into B&W. You might have a photograph that needs more contrast than what is available in the contrast slider (that is a global edit) in the basic panel. You could use the Tone Curve Panel, but it might be a bit overwhelming, so instead, try taking samples via the Target Adjustment Tool and it may be easier and also offer you more detail control.

With the tool active, you simply click on the areas you want to change the image (example, highlights, midtones or shadows), then drag your mouse up to lighten or down to darken. As you drag your mouse, observe the Tone Curve and you’ll see a corresponding point appear on the curve, and the curve will adjust up or down depending on how you drag the tool. I first clicked on the background and changed the shadow region of the tone curve. I next re-sampled on her forehead and changed the highlight tones. On the curve, you can see a dot where the tone is being changed.

Instead of tones, you might want to modify colors, such as adjusting the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance. For example, you may want to reduce the Saturation of the image. In the image below, her dress is very saturated and appears to be some kind of yellow. Either it is only yellow, somewhat orange, or a combination of both.

It is quickest to sample the area and reduce the saturation of all the colors affected.

Notice the orange and yellow were changed, but the changes were not with the same values. The yellow was reduced more than the orange.

The Targeted Adjustment tool really is this easy, and it is a very fun and useful tool. Below are some shortcuts to use. All of them worked for me, except for Saturation. I hope I have something on my machine that conflicts with that shortcut and it is not Lightroom. Try it and let me know.


  • Command + Option (Mac) / Control + Alt (Win) + Shift + T selects the Targeted Adjustment tool for the Tone Curve
  • Command + Option (Mac) / Control + Alt (Win) + Shift + H selects the Targeted Adjustment tool for Hue
  • Command + Option (Mac) / Control + Alt (Win) + Shift + S selects the Targeted Adjustment tool for Saturation
  • Command + Option (Mac) / Control + Alt (Win) + Shift + L selects the Targeted Adjustment tool for Luminance
  • Command + Option (Mac) / Control + Alt (Win) + Shift + G selects the Targeted Adjustment tool for B&W