Comparing photos in the Library module

Lightroom lets you view large previews of one or more photos for tasks like picking out the best photo in a series. You can view side-by-side previews of two photos in the Compare view, or view tiled previews of two or more photos in the Survey view.

In the Compare view, one photo is the select (active) and the other is the candidate. Using controls in the toolbar, you can swap the select and candidate photos, zoom in and out of one or both views simultaneously, and specify when you’re done comparing.

In the Survey view, the selected (active) photo has a white border. You can designate the active photo by clicking it in the image display area. All photos have a Deselect Photo icon  in the lower-right corner for removing the photos from the Survey view. (On the Mac OS, move the pointer over the photo to see the icon.)

Both views provide access to rating stars, color labels, and Pick or Rejected flags for each photo. Both views also let you deselect photos to narrow down the images under consideration. See Flag, label, and rate photos.

You can always switch between the Compare and Survey views while comparing photos. You can also display Compare and Survey views in a second window on a second monitor. See Displaying the Library on a second monitor.

Compare photos in the Compare view

  1. In the Grid view or the Filmstrip, select two photos and then do one of the following:
    • Click the Compare View icon  in the toolbar.

    • Choose View > Compare.

    Note: If you only select one photo and then switch to Compare view, Lightroom uses the currently selected photo and either the last previously selected photo or an adjacent photo in the Grid view or the Filmstrip.
  2. Do any of the following to adjust the photo previews:
    • To zoom in or out of both photos simultaneously, make sure the Link Focus icon  is displayed in the toolbar and then drag the Zoom slider.

    • To zoom in or out of one photo, select the photo, make sure the Unlink Focus icon  is displayed in the toolbar and then drag the Zoom slider.

      Note: Clicking the toolbar icon toggles between Link Focus and Unlink Focus.
    • To synchronize the scaling of the candidate and the select photos, click Sync in the toolbar.

  3. Set the rating stars, color labels, or Pick or Rejected flags for the photos.
  4. Do any of the following to specify different selected and candidate photos:
    • Click Swap in the toolbar to reverse the selected and candidate photos.

    • Click the Select Next Photo icon in the toolbar (or press the Right Arrow key) to compare subsequent photos with the first selection. Select Previous Photo to compare previous photos with the first selection. Press the Up arrow to replace the selected photo with the current selection and replace the candidate selection with the next image.

    • Click the Deselect Photo icon  in the lower-right corner below the photo.

    • Select the Candidate photo and then click Make Select in the toolbar.

  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 as needed.
  6. Click a different view button to exit the Compare view.

Compare photos in the Survey view

  1. In the Grid view or the Filmstrip, select two or more photos and then do one of the following:
    • Click the Survey View icon  in the toolbar.

    • Choose View > Survey.

    Note: You can always add more photos to your comparison at any time by selecting them in the Filmstrip. Keep in mind that the previews in the Survey view are smaller when more photos are selected. See Selecting photos in the Grid view and the Filmstrip.
  2. In the Survey view, do any of the following:
    • To specify the select photo, click a photo in the work area or in the Filmstrip, or click the Select Previous Photo or Select Next Photo icon in the toolbar.

      Note: Navigate must be chosen in the Survey view toolbar pop-up menu for the icons to appear.
    • To delete photos, click the Deselect Photo icon  in the lower-right corner of a photo.

    • To rate, label, or flag photos, click the rating stars, color labels, and Pick or Rejected flags beneath the photos.