The Library module

After the photos are imported, Lightroom stores them in a database called a catalog. You view and organize the photos in your catalog in the Library module.

About Lightroom catalogs

Lightroom uses a catalog to track the location of files and remember information about them. A catalog is like a database that contains a record of your photos. This record is stored in the catalog and contains data such as preview information, links that indicate where the photos are located on your computer, metadata that describes the photos, and editing instructions applied in the Develop module. When you rate photos, add metadata and keyword tags, organize photos into collections, or remove photos from the catalog—even when the original photo files are offline—the settings are stored in the catalog.

All of this information enables Lightroom to give you flexibility in managing, identifying, and organizing photos. If you’re photographing on location, for example, you can import photos into Lightroom on your laptop, and then move the original photos onto writable media or storage devices, and continue organizing and managing your photos without worrying about filling up the laptop hard drive. You can then transfer the catalog to your desktop computer, preserving the changes you make and keeping track of where the photos are stored. The catalog that you import with photos from the on-location shoot would be a separate catalog from any other catalog that may be stored on the desktop computer.

Note: Although you can view photos in both Lightroom and Adobe Bridge, the two applications behave differently. To view photos in Adobe Bridge, your computer hard drive must contain the photos, or your computer must be connected to a storage media that contains the photos. This is because Adobe Bridge is a file browser that only displays readily accessible photos. The Lightroom catalog is a database that keeps track of the photos you import, so you can preview photos whether your hard drive contains the actual photos or not. To edit photos in Lightroom, however, the software does need to be able to access the stored photos.

By default, Lightroom loads the most recent catalog. You can open a different catalog by choosing File > Open Catalog, or you can determine which catalog is opened in the General preferences.

Viewing and organizing photos

Photos in the catalog and their accompanying data are viewed in the Library module. You can view all photos in the catalog as thumbnails in a grid, or the catalog can be filtered in different ways to show only specific photos. The Library module has controls that let you search for and display specific photos and data. You can also group photos into collections, into a temporary collection called the Quick Collection, or into a smart collection based on a criteria that you specify. You can also use keyword tags and metadata to find your photos.

The Library module is where you view, sort, manage, organize, compare, and rate your photos. It’s your home base for working with photos after importing them into Lightroom.

Photos are displayed in the central area of the Library module in any of four views:

Grid view
Displays photos as thumbnails in cells, which can be viewed in compact and expanded sizes. The Grid view gives you an overview of your entire catalog or specific groups of photos for rotating, sorting, organizing, and managing. Options are available for viewing information about photos, including their ratings, color labels, and Pick or Rejected flags in the cells. If you photographed a series of similar photos, they can be neatly grouped in a stack with the thumbnail of the best showing. See Finding photos in the catalog and Grouping photos into stacks.

Loupe view
Displays a single photo. Controls let you view the entire photo or zoom in to see part of it. Zoom levels up to 11:1 are available. When you’re in the Grid or Survey view, double-clicking a photo displays the image in Loupe view.

Compare view
Displays photos side by side so that you can evaluate them.

Survey view
Displays the active photo with selected photos so that you can evaluate them. The active photo has a white border. Change the active photo by clicking a different thumbnail, and deselect a photo in Survey view by clicking the X   in the lower-right corner of the thumbnail.

The Library module contains buttons and commands for switching between views. See Switching between Grid, Loupe, Compare, and Survey views. You can also display these views of the Library module in a second window, which you can view on a second monitor, if you have one. See Displaying the Library on a second monitor.

The panels on the left side of the Library module are primarily for displaying specific photos. Use them to navigate and manage the folders that contain your photos, to view your collections of photos, and to adjust the zoom level of your photos in Loupe view. See View the contents of a folder and Photo collections.

The Library Filter bar at the top of the Grid view allows you to find photos by selecting categories of metadata; filtering by flags, ratings, and color labels; and performing a text search. Being able to search for and find photos is important when you want to locate specific images, assemble a group of photos into a slide show or web photo gallery, or print your photos on a contact sheet. See Find photos using the Library Filter bar.

The panels on the right side of the Library module let you view a histogram of the active photo, and view and add metadata and keyword tags to photos. The Quick Develop panel lets you quickly apply tone adjustments to photos. The tone adjustments in the Quick Develop panel in the Library module are the same as their counterparts in the Develop module. However, the Develop module has more precise controls for making adjustments and corrections to the image. See Reading image histograms, Viewing and editing metadata, and Using the Quick Develop panel.

Depending on the view, the toolbar below the preview area contains controls for sorting, applying ratings, rotating photos, playing an impromptu slide show, or viewing information about the photo. See Show controls in the Library module toolbar.

Like all modules in Lightroom, the Library module displays the Filmstrip along the bottom. Applying filters to show only certain photos in the Filmstrip determines which photos appear in the Grid view. See Filtering and rating photos and Filter the photos displayed in the Filmstrip and Grid view.

For a video about the Library module, see