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How to Rotate a Photo in Lightroom

Lightroom is Adobe’s premier photo editing software, used by professional and amateur photographers to edit, enhance, and prepare their photography. It has a wealth of incredible features such as presets to quickly and consistently edit your photos, a brush tool to make detailed edits to your image, and much more. 

However, the many features and quirks of lightroom can make it intimidating to get to grips with – so we’re going to focus on one of the basic functions of adobe lightroom: rotating an image. We’ll cover all the ways to rotate an image in both the library and develop modules of lightroom.

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How To Rotate Images In The Library Module

Rotate using library module
The Library Module

In Lightroom Classic, the library module is useful for viewing, sorting, managing, organizing, comparing, and rating the photos in your catalog. You can’t do much major editing, but you can rotate photos before going into the develop module, where you can edit them.

The library module has two main viewing modes relevant for rotating your image: grid view and loupe view.

Grid view sorts your images into a grid of thumbnails, allowing you to get a better overview of your entire catalog.  Loupe View allows you to view only one photo at a time, on a larger scale, so that you can get a better idea of the image. 

Using Toolbar Arrows

To easily rotate a photo in the library module of Lightroom, you can use the rotate image arrows located in the toolbar. If you can’t see your toolbar, press T or go to View > Show Toolbar

Within the toolbar, you will find two bent arrow icons facing left and right.

To rotate your image clockwise, press the arrow to the right. To rotate your image counter-clockwise, press the arrow to the left. For each click of the arrow, your photo should rotate 90 degrees. Note that you can only use this method whilst in Loupe mode.

use right toolbar arrow
Rotate an image using the right toolbar arrow. Alternatively, you can also use the rotate icons below the image.

Using Rotate Shortcuts in Lightroom

For a quick and simple method to rotate your image in lightroom, you can utilize keyboard shortcuts. Getting to know your keyboard shortcuts on Lightroom can save you lots of time, so it’s worth learning. 

To rotate 90 degrees in Lightroom, in the clockwise direction, use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control + ]. To rotate your image 90 degrees counter-clockwise, use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control + [

Right-Click

You can rotate a photo in lightroom by right-clicking it. However, this method changes depending on whether you are in Loupe view or Grid view, so we will cover both. 

In Loupe View:

Right-click your photo and select Transform > Rotate Left or Transform > Rotate Right. This will rotate your image 90 degrees left or right, respectively.

In Grid View:

It is slightly simpler to rotate your image using right-click in grid view than in loupe view. To do this, right-click your image and select either Rotate Left or Rotate Right 

rotate right menu bar
Rotate an image using right-click

Top Menu Bar

You can also rotate your images using the top menu bar. 

With your photo selected, go to Photo > Rotate Left or Rotate Right. This will rotate your image 90 degrees each time. 

use menu bar to rotate
Rotate an image using the menu bar

How To Rotate Images In The Develop Module

The develop module is where most of the photo editing happens in Lightroom. However, the processes for rotating a photo are similar to those you would use in the library module.

The develop module

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The quickest and simplest way to rotate an image in Lightroom’s develop module is to use keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately, the keyboard shortcuts remain the same in both the library module and the develop module.

Top Menu Bar

You can also rotate your images using the top menu bar, which is especially handy if you often forget your keyboard shortcuts.

With your photo selected, go to Photo > Rotate Left or Rotate Right. This will rotate your image 90 degrees each time.

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Rotate Multiple Images in Lightroom

If you have a batch of images you would like to rotate in Lightroom, it can be cumbersome to rotate each one manually. Luckily, you can rotate multiple images in Lightroom, at once. The method changes slightly depending on whether you use the library module or the develop module, so we’ll cover both.

How To Rotate Multiple Images In The Library Module Of Lightroom

In the Library module, you have the option of grid view, which gives you the advantage of seeing multiple images at once, making it easier to select and rotate your images.

Selecting Your Photos:

To select your photos in a continuous sequence, click the first photo you would like to select, hold down the Shift Button on your keyboard and then select the last photo you would like to be included. This will select both the first and last photos, as well as all the photos in between them.

If you’d only like to select a few photos in a batch of photos, hold down the Command/Control button on your keyboard and select each photo individually.

Rotate multiple images in the library module
Select multiple images in the library module

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

As covered before, the easiest way to rotate your photos is using keyboard shortcuts.

With your images selected, use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control + ] to rotate your images 90 degrees clockwise. To rotate your image 90 degrees counter-clockwise, use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control + [

Using Right-Click

You can also use the right-click method to rotate your photos in Lightroom. With your photos selected, right-click on any of them and select either Rotate Left or Rotate Right.

How To Rotate Multiple Images In The Develop Module Of Lightroom

In the develop module, you only have access to your filmstrip, which is the carousel of images at the bottom of your screen showing the batch of photos you are working on. This makes rotating multiple images at once harder, as it’s more difficult to view. However, it can still be done. 

Selecting Your Images

To select your images, you will need to view your filmstrip – if you can’t see your filmstrip, you can access it by going to Window > Panels > Show Film Strip.

To select a continuous series of images in your filmstrip, select the first image, hold down the Shift button on your keyboard, and select the last image you would like to include. This will select all the images in between those two as well. 

If you’d only like to select a few photos in a batch of photos, hold down the Command/Control button on your keyboard and select each photo individually.

Selecting multiple images in the develop module

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Once again, this is the same as in the library module – either Command/Control + [ or Command/Control + ].

Using Right Click

You can also use the right-click method. With your photos selected, right-click on any of them and select either Rotate Left or Rotate Right. 

Rotating An Image To A Specific Angle In Lightroom

So far, all the options we’ve covered have only allowed you to rotate your image 90 degrees each way. While this is very useful, it limits your options, and for many photos, you may want to rotate less than 90 degrees to get your desired effect, for example – if you want to straighten a horizon. 

To rotate an image to a specific angle, you will need to be in the develop module and select the crop tool, which should look like a small, dotted box just underneath the histogram. This will activate a new panel showing a slider labeled ‘angle.’ By moving this slider to the left or right, you can alter the angle of your image. However, it is important to note that this will crop your image. 

lightroom rotate crop
How to rotate and crop in Lightroom using the angle slider

Rotating An Image To Straighten Your Photo

Many photographers have crooked horizons in their photos, which is particularly irksome in landscape and nature photography. We’ll cover straightening and cropping in more depth in another article. First, however, it is useful to know that you can use the angle slider to straighten your photo by adjusting until your horizon is straight.

How To Undo Your Rotation

We all make mistakes, so it’s important to know how to undo the rotation on your images if you realize it’s not what you wanted. 

Undo

The simplest and quickest way to undo any change you’ve made in lightroom is to use the undo button. You can access this by going to the top menu bar and choosing Edit > Undo or pressing Control / Command + Z on your keyboard. However, this only works on the most recent changes you have made to your image, so if you continue editing your image after rotating it, you will end up removing all your new changes. 

undo changes
Undo changes using the menu bar

Manual Rotation

If you want to undo your rotation without using the undo button, the easiest way to do so is to use any of the methods discussed above to correct your rotation. For example, if you have rotated your image 90 degrees clockwise, you can press Command / Control + [ to rotate it back 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

Check out our other Lightroom Tutorials.

Conclusion

As we’ve covered, there are many ways to rotate in Lightroom – having a good grasp of these different methods and knowing what to use when will help you keep your workflow efficient and streamlined.

How do you rotate a picture in Lightroom, and why do you use this method? Share your preferred method in the comments below.

Photo by Fernando Meloni on Unsplash

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