Visualize Spots

In Lightroom & Workflow by David11 Comments

ScreenshotA ScreenshotBThis is a bit of a quickie, but I only just learned it myself. It’s two tips in one. If you don’t already know, there’s a way to visualize the dust spots on your image when using the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom. Not surprisingly, it’s called Visualize Spots and you can click the little box in the lower left to toggle it on and off. That’s Tip #1.

The view you get once toggled is the bottom image above (click either image to make them larger). Makes it much easier to see what you’ve missed. However, it drives me mad to have to move the mouse from what I’m doing to check that little box on and off (because sometimes Lightroom’s efforts to heal a spot remind me of Cookie Monster eating a cookie – heavy-handed and less than subtle). Until now I’ve grumbled that there should be a shortcut to toggle this, but I didn’t let my mouse linger long enough for the shortcut to present itself. And then I stopped being so lazy about finding shortcuts to support my laziness, and I went looking for it. And for those that don’t know it – this is Tip #2 – the keyboard shortcut is A. Q for the Spot Removal Tool, A for the Visualize Spots Toggle.

Or you could clean your sensor, but there’s no keyboard shortcut for that.

*Don’t forget you can also sync the changes you make across multiple photographs, or just copy/paste the Develop settings and select only Spot Removal  to remove spots on many images at once – but I have never found this works for anything but images that are exactly the same. This is one of those instances where not taking the shortcut usually works best for me.


  1. In conjunction with this tip, I find zooming in to 1:1 or 2:1 to be helpful. To navigate the photo while in Visualize Spot, use the Home key (PC) to position zoom in upper left hand corner of photo, then use Shift-Page Down to go through photo block by block. The End and Shift-Page Up keys work in the opposite directions.

      1. Author

        Smiley face or not, I shot the image up top with my Leica. 🙂 But every camera I own is a bit of a dust magnet. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the great LR tip! This makes it so much easier to see the spots. I just finished your book, Visionmongers, and loved it. Keep up the great work! You are an inspiration.

  3. Also just a quickie that sprang to mind after reading your post, David.

    If you put a vibrating object, say a phone, on a hard surface as opposed to a soft one, a table top as opposed to your hands, the vibration is much more pronounced. Try using your built in sensor cleaner with your camera held down on a table top. Works for me!

    All the best and keep up the great work.

    1. Author

      Interesting. Stands to reason, though I never thought of it. Will have to give this a try – thank you!

  4. A really nice short cut for a keyboard lover. And nonetheless, I also like to clean the sensor, as then I don’t need the short cut any more for some time.

  5. I’m a heavy user of shortcuts in Lightroom. I barely touch the mouse, to be honest. But this A shortcut when using the spot healing brush is GENIUS David. Thank you so much for sharing!

    You rock.

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