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Customizing Lightroom by Changing Keyboard Shortcuts

Lightroom has a ton of keyboard shortcuts that can help make your life so much easier. If you press Ctrl-/, a menu comes up with a list of some available shortcuts. If you thought that was enough shortcuts, switch to the develop module and pres Ctrl-/ again. You’ll notice there’s a whole different list.

All told, there are probably hundreds of keys mapped to shortcuts in Lightroom. Although I use some of them a lot (B for add to collection, R for crop overlay, 0-1-2 for ratings), there are some that I hardly ever use. Is there a way to customize these keyboard shortcuts so that I can change some obscure ones and make them simpler…?

It turns out there is. It uses the same localization trick that let us customize the directory structure of sorted import folders. The TranslatedStrings.txt file also allows you redefine values that create these keyboard shortcuts.

Example – Show in Explorer versus Show in Folder

If you haven’t read the previous posts about TranslatedStrings.txt, then the first thing you need to do is go to your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom folder, go to the “Resources” folder, create a folder called “en,” and create a text file called “TranslatedStrings.txt” inside of that folder.

Looking through the menus, one thing that bugs me a little bit is that there is a shortcut for “Photo -> Show in Explorer” but there is no shortcut for “Photo -> Go to Folder In Library.” Considering that Lightroom is supposed to be an all-in-one organization and editing tool, it seems strange that the default choice would be to find a file in Windows Explorer rather than finding it in its folder in Lightroom. For my purposes, I’d much rather be able to jump to the folder in Lightroom than have the Explorer window pop up.

In this example, I want to wipe out the shortcut (Ctrl + R) for “Show in Explorer” and re-assign that same shortcut to “Go to Folder in Library.”

First, I need to search through another TranslatedStrings.txt file to find the appropriate lines. Looking through the French file, I found the following lines:

"$$$/AgLibrary/Menu/Photo/GoToFolderInLibrary=Atteindre le dossier de la &bibliothèque"
"$$$/AgLibrary/Menu/Photo/GoToFolderInLibrary/Key="

The first line is simply a translation of the label, so we don’t need that. I’ll stick with English. The second line however, with the “/Key=” sets the shortcut for this menu option. In this case, there’s no value, so there’s no shortcut. Let’s copy and paste this into our TranslatedStrings.txt file.

Now, if I wanted to assign a new, unused key to this, I could simply add it in after the “/Key=” and I’d be good to go. For example:

"$$$/AgLibrary/Menu/Photo/GoToFolderInLibrary/Key=Ctrl+S"

That will assign Ctrl+S to go to an image’s folder in Lightroom. Just to make things more complicated, though, I want to re-use an old shortcut. So I also need to find where that shortcut is defined and wipe it out. Further down in the French file, there are the following lines:

"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInExplorer=Afficher dans l'&Explorateur"
"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInExplorerNoAccel=Afficher dans l'Explorateur"
"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInFinder=&Afficher dans le Finder"
"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInFinder/Key=Cmd+r"

There’s our Ctrl-R shortcut. Interestingly, there’s no actual key defined for “ShowInExplorer.” There’s only a key for the Mac option, “Show In Finder.” However, this key is used in both operating systems. Copy the last line into TranslatedStrings.txt, and delete the “Cmd+r” at the end. Just to be on the safe side, we’ll also try to define a key for “ShowInExplorer” like this:

"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInFinder/Key="
"$$$/AgWorkspace/ShowInExplorer/Key="

At this point, we’re good to go to open up Lightroom.

My “Photo” menu now looks like the screenshot to the left. Next to “Show in Explorer,” there is no longer a keyboard shortcut. Next to “Go to Folder in Library,” there is a new shortcut – Ctrl+R. A quick press of the buttons shows that it not only updated in the menu, but it actually works.

There is a minor complication, though. If you switch to the develop module, that change is undone. That’s because Lightroom defines each of these menus separately. If we add the following line to the TranslatedStrings.txt file, it should fix the problem.

"$$$/AgDevelop/ShowInFinder/Key="

Even though there’s a menu option in the Develop Module for “Photo -> Go to Folder in Library,” I can’t seem to define a shortcut key for it. The shortcut itself still works fine, but it just won’t show up in that menu. /shrug

Some Parting Thoughts

This is a cool feature, and it opens up a lot of possibilities. However, it also brings with it some headaches. I plan on returning to this topic in the future with a more thorough documentation of these options (since I can’t seem to find one published online yet), but in the meantime here are a few thoughts to help you work it out by yourself.

The file is organized by module and menu. For example the value “$$$/AgLibrary/Menu/Photo” is an item from the Library module, found in the Photo menu. This will help you skim through the large file a little quicker. If you know you’re looking for an option in the Develop module, try searching for “AgDevelop” in the TranslatedStrings.txt file and work from there.

Be careful that the shortcut you want to use hasn’t already been used. Given the fact that there are literally hundreds of keyboard mappings in Lightroom, this may be harder than it seems. If you do want to use an existing shortcut, like I did, then you’ll need to go back and remap the existing shortcut to nothing. If you do this, again be careful that you find all of the instances of that shortcut. The first time I went through and wiped out the Ctrl-R shortcut, I didn’t realize that it was defined for both the Library module and separately for the Develop module.

Also, some shortcuts just don’t seem to want to be mapped. I initially wanted to swap the Tab (hide side panels) and Shift-Tab (hide all panels) shortcuts. But… it just wasn’t working. I was able to assign those functions to unused shorcuts (Shift-S, Shift-Q), but I couldn’t get the Tab button to work. I also had trouble getting the brackets ‘[‘ and ‘]’ to be useful. I don’t know if you need to escape these characters somehow, or maybe you just can’t use them when you define your own shortcuts. Something to look into.

Just remember that the more you customize Lightroom to your workflow, the quicker you’ll be able to do things. So it may seem silly to redefine a few shortcuts, but if it helps your productivity in the long run… why not?

Good luck customizing. Leave questions and comments below.

Filed Under: How to Process Your Images, Technical Stuff

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Comments

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  4. tito says: December 20, 2016

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About Digital Photography How To

Digital Photography How To is intended to be a guide to people learning how to use their digital SLR cameras. Three years ago, I had never picked up a camera; now, I produce a yearbook every year and I moonlight as a professional photographer.

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Digital Photography How To is written by Brian Rock. In addition to being a photographer, he's an educator. He teaches high school history, he's the advisor of the school yearbook, and he trains his kids to do all of the photography for the yearbook.

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