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By Jan Kabili |

5 tips for touching up your photos in Lightroom

You can quickly remove dust spots and unwanted content from your photos with Lightroom’s Spot Removal tool. These tips will help you make the most of the tool.

1. Get help visualizing spots


When you’re viewing a photo on a small screen, you may not see all the tiny dust spots that can show up later in a print. Use the Spot Removal tool’s Visualize Spots option to locate subtle spots, like the dust on this window.

Press Q to select the Spot Removal tool. Check the Visualize Spots check box in the toolbar under the photo. Drag the Visualize Spots slider to highlight spots and edges against a black background. To remove a spot, click it in Visualize Spots view, or uncheck Visualize Spots and apply the Spot Removal tool in normal view.

2. Zoom while using the Spot Removal tool

When you’re trying to remove small objects, you often need to zoom in for a closer look. You’d normally click a photo in the Develop module to zoom in or out; but that doesn’t work when the Spot Removal tool is selected.

When you’re working with the Spot Removal tool, hold the spacebar down as you click to zoom in, drag to pan, and click to zoom out. Or hold the Control key (Command key on Macs) and press the plus or minus keys to zoom in or out.

3. Fine-tune Spot Removal results by resampling automatically


The Spot Removal tool selects a source area in your image from which it will sample content to hide an object. If you don’t like the initial result, you can drag the source area to another location manually.

To have Lightroom do the work for you, just press the forward-slash key ( / ) at the bottom right of your keyboard. That causes the Spot Removal tool to automatically resample from another source area and create a new patch.

4. Sync spot removal to multiple photos

Dust on your camera sensor or lens can produce a spot in the same location on multiple photos. Quickly remove that spot across photos by synchronizing spot removal.

Select one thumbnail in the filmstrip and apply the Spot Removal tool to hide the spot on that photo. To select additional thumbnails in the filmstrip, Control+click on them (Command+click on Macs).


Click the Sync button in the Develop module. In the Synchronize Settings window, check only Spot Removal and Process Version, and click Synchronize. The results may not be perfect on each photo, but you can fine-tune any of the photos by dragging the source area to another location on that photo.

5. Remove straight objects


The Spot Removal tool does more than hide circular spots. You can also use it to remove noncircular objects. To hide an irregular object, apply the tool with brush strokes. To hide a straight object, like a rung of this ladder, click one end of the object; then Shift+click the other end.

For more on touching up photos in Lightroom, see my lynda.com course Up and Running with Lightroom 5.

Adobe and Lightroom are registered trademarks Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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