Overview of the Lightroom 4 Cropping Tool

Today I want to cover the Lightroom 4 crop tool in some detail. While at first glance you would think a crop tool is very simple and straight forward there is actually a lot of great things you can do with the Lightroom 4 crop tool. So lets jump right into what you can do with the crop tool in Lightroom.

First the basics, the crop tool is located in the Develop module and can be accessed by clicking on the icon right under the histogram on the left. There is also a keyboard shortcut of R to access the crop tool. This will create an overlay on the image and you can simply start to drag and move the edges of the overlay to crop the photo. This will keep the same exact aspect ratio though as the original image but you can change that by using the aspect drop down menu in the crop tool settings. Here you can change it to a few preset aspect ratios like, 1:1, 5:7, 8:10.

You can also set a custom crop if you wanted to create something like a nice panoramic looking shot. All you have to do is unlock the aspect ratio. In the crop tool menu just click on the padlock, select custom and then drag the crop lines in any type of aspect ratio you would like.

crop tool lightroom tutorial

Another way to crop is using the crop frame tool. Instead of moving the edges of the crop guides with your mouse you can click on this tool and then drag and drop on the image to create your crop. At any time in the crop tool you can reset by clicking Command–>Option–>R (for Mac) or Ctrl–>Alt–>R (PC). You can also click the Reset button in the Crop menu.

Straightening a photo using the crop tool. A really cool trick is using the crop tool to straighten out a photo. Click Command on Mac ( Control on PC). and while clicking Command click on a point and drag a line showing Lightroom where to rotate to make that image straight. This is a really quick and easy way to straighten out a photo.

Another way to straighten is to click on the level looking icon in the crop tool and then just drag and drop a line you want to be straight. Or even move the angle slider around to rotate your image.

Change the Grid overlay in the crop tool

You can also change the overlay (which by default is setup to be a rule of thirds) to other types of overlays. With a simple click you can view all of the different overlays available. From the crop tool click the O (as in Oscar) key and it will cycle through the 6 different crop overlays. The different options you have are Rule of Thirds, Golden Ratio, Diagonal lines, Triangles, Golden Mean or Phi and a grid pattern.

And that’s the crop tool, pretty easy but a few things that most people don’t know about. If you have any questions always just leave a comment below and lets chat.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. In Lightroom 4 I crop using the custom crop the old custom crop measurements still stick there and new ones do not show.I thought once there were 5 measurements in the crop panel they were replaced by new ones ,help appreciated please

  2. Nice article. I always find Lightroom to be a little mysterious in terms of what its tools do. But I much prefer editing in Lightroom over Photoshop, so it’s nice to know some of these little details.

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