Mastering the Zoom in the Develop Module

This is going to be a fairly simple and straight-forward tutorial, however many times the simple tips are the most helpful yet often overlooked. When I was first learning Lightroom and I wanted to zoom in on a spot, but couldn't get close enough, it was frustrate me to no end. Over time I learned how to master that feature, so I'm passing what I learned onto you. 

Getting Closer

When you are editing an image in the Develop module of Lightroom and you need to move in much closer (zoom) to see a particular detail, there are three main ways you can zoom in:

  • The keyboard short-cut of control/command and + keys (my go-to)
  • The Navigator panel
  • The zoom tool in the toolbar (my next favorite)

There is one more, but I don't count it because it really shouldn't be used since it is what I consider a "time suck," which is via the View tab in the menu. 

**If you want just a quick zoom in, one that isn't super close, you can click your mouse in the image, as long as you are not using a tool like the adjustment brush or clone/heal tool.

Keyboard Short-Cut

If you use the control (PC) or command (Mac) key and the + key, you will be able to zoom in quickly and easily. To zoom out you simply use the control/command and - keys. If the first try doesn't get you to the magnification you desire, just do it again; it will zoom farther in each time.

The is my go-to method of zooming, but sometimes it will stop shy of the 3:1 ratio, the largest zoom, which is why I am sharing the other two methods.

Navigator Panel

With this panel you can not only zoom in just a bit, but you can also pick an exact ration to go to, like 3:1 (super zoom). Additionally, you can move around the image once it's zoomed. Normally I use the keyboard short-cut of the space bar to move around, but when I'm using certain tools it won't allow me to, so that is when I utilize the Navigator panel. 

How to zoom using the navigator panel in Lightroom

Zoom choices in the navigator panel in Lightroom

Zoom Tool

The zoom feature in the tool bar gives you the same rations as in the Navigator panel, just in a different location. I've found that the zoom tool often seems to be missing in users' tool bars, for whatever reasons, but you can add it to your tool bar by clicking the triangle to the far right and clicking on the word Zoom.

Zoom tool in the Lightroom toolbar

How to show the zoom tool in the Develop module toolbar

If your tool bar is missing in the Develop module, simply click the 't' key on your keyboard and it will reappear. 

Bonus Tip

Once you've zoomed in to a certain point, you can then go back to the previous zoom state by clicking the 'z' key on your keyboard. This just toggles you between the two views.

Moving Around While Zoomed-In

Once you've zoomed in super close, the area you wanted to edit may no longer be visible. You can use the Navigator panel to move to the desired spot, or you can simply hold down the space bar on your keyboard. This activates the hand or move tool. While holding down the space bar, click and drag over to the area you want to see.