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Creating the LRKeys Lightroom keyboard solution

In my last post, I talked about what keyboard solutions I had tried before writing LRKeys.

I started looking for a keyboard solution for Windows PCs which did not rely on hijacking the mouse pointer, and couldn’t find one. So last winter, in the off-season for weddings, I started putting my own solution together. My first prototype relied on reverse-engineering the control ids of each slider – better than using the mouse pointer, but still prone to error. Still, it gave me a usable app which I then used all the following summer to do my editing. Bliss! But still not up to a standard to put before the world of pro photographers.

So this off-season, I’ve re-implemented it using the Lightroom SDK API. On the one hand, this makes it a little more complex, as you need both a Windows app and a Lightroom plugin. But the plugin is as simple as can be for the end user – it installs automatically, and just needs to be started manually when you start Lightroom, and I even managed to map that to a keyboard shortcut. And the whole thing is much more robust and future-proof.

LRKeys Basic is now out the door. It is available as a free download from the website on 21-day trial. LRKeys Basic is not a configurable keyboard solution, but the keyboard layout is the one I have found most intuitive, and it includes all the sliders I use the most. Give it a go and see what a difference it makes.

LRKeys Pro is still being developed at the moment. It will add configurable keyboard shortcuts. Not only that, it will add hundreds of actions. And not only that, you will be able to allocate multiple actions to a single key. Is this the much sought-after relative develop presets? It could be! Sign up for updates via email or Facebook Messenger to be the first to hear about the LRKeys Pro releases. You may even want to be a Beta tester. I know I would 🙂

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Introduction to LRKeys for Lightroom and Windows PCs

LRKeys has been created to address one of the (few) shortcomings in Adobe Lightroom – the ability to use custom keyboard shortcuts to edit photos.

Unlike many other products, Lightroom doesn’t provide a way of redefining keyboard shortcuts, so you can’t even move around the existing shortcuts to suit your way of working. On top of that, the most used actions when editing photos don’t even have keyboard shortcuts at all. There is no keyboard mapping which takes you directly to increase or decrease values for exposure, highlights, temperature, or any of the other Basic Develop settings.

Sure, you can do it all with presets and the mouse. But it’s hardly an efficient process when you are editing hundreds of photos from a wedding.

Over the years, I’ve tried out various solutions to this problem, but I’ve never found one which I loved. I am a Windows PC user, so it has been significantly harder to find a solution than it seems to be for Mac users.

I got hold of a MIDI controller (the Korg nonoKNTRL2) and hooked it up to Paddy. It was fun to use, but I found it fiddly. A larger controller might have fixed that, but then it would have got in the way even more when I wasn’t using it. Plus I still ended up looking from screen to controller and back again all the time, which I found tiring.

I then tried Motibodo, which is a software-only solution. It gives you all the key develop sliders as keyboard shortcuts. I got on much better with this. But I found the layout really not intuitive. And despite the fact the developer had redefined the layout, he didn’t let me take control of it at all! Motibodo is not user-configurable. It has some fussy requirements about the screen view being just so, which seemed odd. And I noticed that the mouse pointer ended up on top of the slider associated with the Motibodo key each time, rather than being returned to where it had started, which was hugely annoying.

So that’s where the journey started. In the next post, I’ll say something about how I created LRKeys.