Article – LR – Alt, Option Key

By Douglas Wade

Lightroom and Photoshop have so much “packed into” their programs there is no plausible way to fit them in the menu setting. In Lightroom, I will showcase some of my favorite uses of the Alt key (PC) or Option key (Mac). I find using them a welcomed addition to my workflow.


The Develop Module contains the cropping tool (shortcut R). With the crop tool selected, holding down the Alt/Caption key will evenly bring in all the sides of the image.

Radial or Gradient Filters

The Radial and Gradient filters are located In the Develop Module. When using the Radial Tool, holding down the Alt/Option key will move a single edge control (default is moving both opposite edges, such as up and down edge or left to right). With the Gradient Filter, holding down the Alt/Option key will move both outside edges simultaneously.

Reset Defaults on Panels

On most all of the panels, if you move the adjustments and then want to quickly reset them back to the default positions, use the Alt/Option key and then click on Reset <panel name>. In the example below, Reset Tone is the panel name. Also, double clicking on the title (Reset Tone) will reset it as well.


Clicking on the slider itself with the Alt/Option Key will show the clipping as you work. This works on the Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks adjustments. Some of the maskings may be white or black, depending on what the mask is working on. If you move the Blacks slider, say to the left, the “white mask” will start to change (adding black to the mask).

Conversely, the Whites slider will show a “black mask” and will add white to the mask.

In my workflow, I change the Blacks and Whites sliders without the Alt/Option key but do use the Alt/Option key on the Shadows slider to remove the appropriate amount of change.


There are four slides in the Sharpening area of the Detail Panel. They are Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking. When the sliders are moved, it is hard to see sharpening on the image unless you are viewing 1:1. You can change the viewing to full image and use the Alt/Option key to show masking or the effect of the sharpening.

Amount – Hold down the Alt/Option key and move the slider. The effect will be to remove the color and view the image’s luminosity. Without the color, it is easier to view the effect of sharpening.

Radius – Hold down the Alt/Option key and move the slider to show the area outside the pixels being sharpened.

Detail – Hold down the Alt/Option key and it will display the “edges” by showing “high frequency” (gray high contrast image) details and allow you to assess for any halos or edge defects.

Masking – Hold down the Alt/Option key and move the slider. The black area of the area will not be sharpened. Black conceals white reveals.

In Conclusion

There are plenty of other uses of the Alt/Option key when working on other sliders. Just hold down the Alt/Option key and see what is revealed.