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How to crop in Lightroom Classic

How to crop in Lightroom Classic

How to Crop in Lightroom Classic: An In-Depth Guide

Cropping is a fundamental part of photo editing and an essential tool in the digital photographer's kit. Whether it's for compositional enhancement, removing unwanted elements, or conforming to specific aspect ratios for print or display, Adobe Lightroom Classic offers a robust set of features for cropping and framing your photos. Here's how you can master the art of cropping in Lightroom Classic.

Accessing the Crop Overlay Tool

  1. Open the Develop Module: After importing your photo into Lightroom Classic, navigate to the Develop module, which is where you'll find the editing tools.
  2. Select the Crop Overlay Tool: On the right panel under the Histogram, click on the Crop Overlay tool icon. It looks like a square with dashed lines near the corners. You can also use the keyboard shortcut 'R' to quickly access the tool.

Using the Crop Overlay Tool

Once you've selected the Crop Overlay tool, a grid will appear over your photo, and the tool's options will display in the right panel.

  1. Adjust the Crop Bounds: Click and drag the corners or edges of the grid to adjust the crop area. You can also click inside the grid and drag to reposition the crop area over the photo.
  2. Change the Crop Orientation: If you want to change the crop orientation from landscape to portrait or vice versa, you can click the 'X' key, or you can click the 'Aspect' button and select 'X : Y' to manually adjust the orientation.
  3. Lock or Unlock the Aspect Ratio: The lock icon next to the 'Aspect' button controls whether the aspect ratio is locked. If it's locked, changing one side of the crop bounds will automatically adjust the other sides to maintain the ratio. If it's unlocked, you can freely adjust the crop bounds without maintaining the aspect ratio.

Working with Aspect Ratios

Lightroom Classic provides several preset aspect ratios to choose from, such as 1x1 (Square), 5x7, 8x10, and others. You can access these presets by clicking on the 'Aspect' dropdown menu.

  1. Selecting a Preset Aspect Ratio: Click on the 'Aspect' dropdown menu and select the desired ratio.
  2. Creating a Custom Aspect Ratio: If the preset ratios aren't what you need, you can also enter a custom ratio. Click on the 'Aspect' dropdown menu and select 'Enter Custom...'. In the dialog box that appears, enter the desired width and height ratio and click 'OK'.

Straightening Photos

Alongside cropping, Lightroom Classic also allows you to straighten your photos.

  1. Straightening Manually: For manual straightening, click and hold outside the crop bounds and drag the mouse to rotate the photo to the desired angle.
  2. Straightening Automatically: For automatic straightening, click on the 'Level' tool (it looks like a spirit level), then click and drag along a line in the photo that you want to be straight. Lightroom Classic will automatically rotate the photo to align the chosen line with the horizontal or vertical axis.
  3. Using the Angle Slider: You can also use the Angle slider to rotate your photo. Drag the slider left or right to rotate the photo counterclockwise or clockwise.

Applying the Crop

Once you're happy with your crop, you can apply it in one of three ways:

  1. Hit Enter: Press the 'Enter' key on your keyboard to apply the crop.
  2. Click on another Tool: Simply select another editing tool, and Lightroom will automatically apply the crop.

Close the Crop Overlay Tool: Click the 'Done' button under the photo, or click the Crop Overlay tool icon again to close the tool and apply the crop.

Resetting the Crop

If you're not happy with your crop or you want to start over, you can easily reset your crop settings:

  1. Reset the Crop: Click on 'Reset' in the bottom-right corner of the right panel to reset all the settings in the Develop module, including the crop.
  2. Reset Only the Crop: If you want to reset only the crop without affecting any other settings, double-click inside the crop bounds, or double-click on the Crop Overlay tool icon.

Additional Tips

  1. View Options: You can customize the grid overlay that appears when you're cropping. Press 'O' to cycle through different overlay patterns, and 'Shift + O' to rotate the currently selected pattern.
  2. Constrain to Image: By checking the 'Constrain to Image' box, Lightroom Classic will prevent you from dragging the crop bounds outside the photo. This is useful if you have rotated the photo and want to ensure that the crop area only includes areas within the original photo.


Cropping is a powerful tool that can greatly enhance the composition and impact of your photos. By mastering the cropping feature in Adobe Lightroom Classic, you gain a great deal of control over the final presentation of your work.

  1. Whether you're cropping for print, for web display, or just for artistic effect, Lightroom Classic provides a comprehensive set of tools to make the process simple and intuitive. Spend some time experimenting with different crops and aspect ratios on your photos, and you'll soon find that the cropping tool is an indispensable part of your editing workflow.
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