Lightning Keys – Part Of A Lightroom Workflow Solution

Lightroom Keyboard

What Is Lightning Keys?

Lightning Keys helps you dramatically increase the speed of your editing in Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4 by using a custom programmed keyboard. You’ll spend less time editing, and more time shooting. Rock on.

Essential shortcuts are programmed into a keyboard, letting you spend less time moving your mouse around, clicking and using keyboard shortcut combinations. Instead, you’ll only have to press keys! You can keep your eyes on the image you’re editing, letting you make your adjustments faster and more precisely. Sweet deal.

It works in the Develop module by allowing you to quickly select various Basic Panel adjustments and rapidly adjust them. There are also shortcuts for adjustment tools like crop, spot removal, graduated filter, and the adjustment brush.

You’ll also find access to quick presets so you can easily apply custom color toning or convert your images to B&W.

Lightning Keys is part of a system that is perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time editing in Lightroom, and would like to speed things up. Like, a lot.

Check out the video below for more information on what Lightning Keys is:

The System

Lightning Keys is one part of a system. We want you to know exactly what this is about, so here’s the setup you’ll need to get going.

1. Customizable Keyboard

Nope, your normal keyboard won’t work. Which is a bummer. But there is another keyboard out there that is magic. It’s called the X-Keys Pro, and it is an absolute machine. It is an investment at $189.95 USD, but if you spend a lot of time editing in Lightroom, it’s a small price to pay for saving hours and hours of your precious time.


2. QuicKeys Software

Lightning Keys runs on QuicKeys Software, which lets you program advanced mouse movements. You won’t need to worry about that though, we already did all the tedious mouse movement programming work for you! You simply will need this software to run the Lightning Keys shortcut file. The QuicKeys software will cost you coin at $59.95 USD. And unfortunately QuicKeys 4 is only available for Mac, see below for a Windows alternative.


3. Adobe Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4

I imagine that if you’ve read this far, you already use Lightroom. But, if you don’t, you’ll need either Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4. Luckily it’s the awesomest photo editing program on the market, and helps you bring the best out of your images quickly and easily.


4. Lightning Keys!

The part that brings all these fancy tools together is Lightning Keys. It’s a custom keyboard shortcut file that you import into QuicKeys. This shortcut file allows the xKeys to control the basic adjustment sliders in Lightroom.  It’s quick and easy to setup. Bonus: It’s totally free. 


Why This Snazzy Setup Is So Awesome

Simple! It lets you quickly improve your Lightroom productivity! Get through more images, quicker and easier. Have more time for fun and games. Win-win.

Here’s how it helps you. By reducing the amount of time that you spend moving your mouse from point to point and using clicks and keystrokes, you’ll save time on each image you process. Add those precious seconds up over the course of hundreds of images, and you have a whole lot of time saved.

And since you won’t have to take your eyes off your photo as you make adjustments, it will be easier for you to see the effect your adjustments are having on the image. This is the big secret. This is why this system is so effective.

Here’s what the buttons are programmed to do:

Apply presets: This lets you add custom color toning, or convert to your favourite black and white processing, with one click

Quick access to Basic Panel Adjustments: These are things like temperature, exposure, brightness, contrast, etc. This is an area you’ll likely spend the majority of your time fine tuning your images, so being able to control things quickly is the key to speed!

Quick access to the Adjustment tools: Crop, graduated filter, spot removal, and the adjustment brush are all at your finger tips!


What You Get

Lightroom Keyboard Shortcut File

Lightning Keys is available as a downloadable ZIP file. It contains:

QuicKeys Keyboard Shortcuts File

This is where all the power is. We went through many variations and updates until we arrived at the most effective and easy-to-setup keyboard shortcuts. Carefully programmed to give you ultimate speed, this file will save your hours and hours of do-it-yourself setup. We’ve included the shortcut file for both Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4!

InDesign Customizable Keyboard Layout File

Perfectly sized for the X-Keys Pro keyboard, this customizable InDesign file will let you change the layout, the colours, and the text to make it perfect for your workflow. Once you’ve customized it just print it out and pop them under the keys.

JPEG Keyboard Layout File

Don’t feel like customizing it? Just print out our ready to use keyboard layout.

Our layout was created after dozens of hours of real-world testing, and many many many revisions. But we’ve created something that is both ergonomical and efficient! We think you’ll really dig it.

Shown below is the Lightroom 3 layout


Lightroom Quick Presets To Get You Started!

A set of black and white, colour, sepia, duotone, and handy presets to get you started off. Customize them to your tastes, and have instant one-button access to super photo editing.


Why We Made It

As much as we love Lightroom, there’s a problem with it. It doesn’t contain the essential keyboard shortcuts for basic tone adjustments like exposure, blacks, brightness, and contrast.

This means that your ability to quickly move through images and make those adjustments is restricted. It can take up way too much of your time, especially when you want to fine tune things and get the best out of your photos. Frustrating!

A few third party solutions popped up to try to solve the problem.  Unfortunately, they were pricey. Too pricey.

So we set off to do it ourselves, and create the programming that could unleash the power of the keyboard.

Lightning Keys is the result of that quest! Huzzah!


How to Install Lightning Keys

How to Customize Shortcuts in QuicKeys

Honesty Time: There Are Limitations

Since Lightning Keys is a workaround for a lack of shortcuts in Lightroom, there are some limitations.

First, the shortcuts are designed for the Develop Module. Other modules aren’t programmed in. Most of your time spent doing intensive editing happens in the Develop Module, so this isn’t too big of an issue.

The smallest resolution size screen it will function with is 1344 x840 (most 15inch screens or larger will work). The keys will still work at smaller resolutions but due to how the shortcuts are programmed with mouse movements some of the shortcuts won’t function properly.

Many shortcuts involve selecting adjustment sliders using mouse movements. One problem with Lightroom is that it exhibits a slight delay between when a slider is selected and when the slider can actually be moved.

So, for example, you have the exposure slider selected and you press the Lightning Keys shortcut for the contrast slider. Then you quickly make an adjustment. That adjustment would usually be applied to the exposure slider because the contrast slider wouldn’t have been active yet.

This is a problem specific to Lightroom and not the keyboards or QuicKeys shortcut program. The solution was to program in a brief delay when making adjustments to the sliders.

This means that when you’re making adjustments with Lightning Keys those adjustments come just a fraction of a second after you actually make them. The delay is not really that noticeable and a sacrifice worth making in order to keep your eyes on your image as you make your adjustments

The range of possible keyboard shortcuts is limited mainly to the Basic Panel. There are shortcuts programmed in that will take you to the other panels, but then you’ll have to make adjustments with your mouse.




Ready to get going, and save yourself buckets of time? Here’s what you need:

Purchase the X-keys Pro customizable keyboard:

Purchase the X-Keys Pro keyboard in Canada:

Purchase the QuicKeys Software:

Purchase Lightroom:


Alternatives (Windows folks look here!)

If you’re interested in custom programming an X-keys for Windows head over to Paddy for Lightroom. They are doing the same thing, but for you PC users!


Why Is It Free?

Yep, this is pretty snazzy. So why is it free?

Simple. We think this is a system that every photographer who uses Lightroom should be able to use.

The problem is that despite the repeated requests made to Adobe, they refuse to acknowledge or even respond to the fact that essential keyboard shortcuts are missing from Lightroom. Bummer.

So we have decided to make the shortcuts file that we programmed publicly available.

You’ll still need to purchase an X-Keys keyboard as well as the QuicKeys shortcut program which are a considerable investment. But, overall, you’ll still save a few hundred dollars by programming it yourself instead of purchasing a third party solution. 

And with Lightning Keys you have a near instant setup. Want to customize the keyboard to your exact specifications? It’s easy, and only takes a bit of time!


Third Party Solutions

If this idea sounds awesome, but you really really don’t want to do it yourself, you have a couple third party options for purchase. You’ll be able to find them by googling “Lightroom Keys”.


How You Can Help

If you program a shortcuts for another program (like InDesign, Photoshop, or Photo Mechanic etc.) consider passing it on so that others may benefit from your keyboard programming.

If you program another keyboard for Lightroom or any other program again consider passing long the shortcuts. Hopefully this will make it easier for other photographers to enjoy an affordable input device and speed up their processing.

If you want the join the discussion hit up our Facebook Page and let’s chat it out!


The Future

Making this device more affordable and more universal is the ultimate goal.

We’re on the lookout for a cheaper keyboard (perhaps a wireless number pad!) that will work, while still trying to maintain the functionality of a larger keyboard.

We’re also going to be programming for other frequently used programs so that everything is sped up! Less time working, more time shooting and playing.

Let’s work together to help all photographers achieve that dream!


Want To Learn More About Lightroom?

Think all this keyboard stuff sounds awesome, but need the editing skills to make it extra awesome?

Want to learn how to use Lightroom to bring the best out of your images?

Check out our Super Photo Editing Skills Tutorial! It has over 6 hours of videos, two Field Guides, and 50 more presets!


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