Three Easy Ways to Rotate an Image in Lightroom

by Oct 3, 2022Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Three Easy Ways to Rotate an Image in Lightroom

In this tutorial, I’ll be sharing three easy ways you can use to rotate images in Lightroom Classic CC.

There are a few reasons why you might want to do this:

  1. Because Lightroom imported your photo in the wrong orientation. This usually means the image appears rotated clockwise or anticlockwise by 90 degrees.
  2. You want to flip the image vertically or horizontally so that it faces a different direction.
  3. The image isn’t level and needs a small amount of rotation to fix a sloping horizon.

In this tutorial we concentrate on the first two of these. If you want to correct a sloping horizon, I’ve published a separate Lightroom tutorial to help you fix that problem.

Rotating an Image Through 90 Degrees in Lightroom

This is a common problem which can occur for many reasons. It’s easiest to spot when you view your images in the Lightroom Library Grid View.

You can do this by opening Lightroom and then clicking the link to the Library module at the top right of the interface. Once you are in the Lightroom Library, the images are displayed either individually or as a grid of thumbnails. You can select the thumbnail grid view by clicking the grid icon to the bottom left of the preview area or pressing G on your keyboard. You can see these indicated in the following screenshot.

Lightroom Library showing images that need to be rotated

Notice in this screenshot that two of the images need to be rotated to correct their orientation. Currently the images have a landscape orientation, but they were shot in portrait. Fortunately, Lightroom has a few easy ways we can use to rotate the images and fix the problem.

  1. With the thumbnail icons.
  2. Using the Lightroom menus.
  3. Applying the rotate image shortcuts.

Rotating an Image Using the Lightroom Thumbnails

One of the easiest ways to rotate an image is using the Lightroom thumbnail grid view mentioned above.

When you move your mouse pointer over one of the thumbnails in the grid, you will see two arrow icons appear in the bottom left and right corners. You can see these highlighted in the screenshot below.

rotate left and right icons on a Lightroom thumbnail

Click the left icon to rotate the image anticlockwise and the right icon to rotate it clockwise. Each time you click one of these icons it will rotate the image 90 degrees in that direction. If you continue to click the icon, you will rotate the image through a full 360 degrees.

Rotate and Flipping an Image Using the Lightroom Menu

It’s possible to use this next method to rotate an image in both the Lightroom Library and Develop Modules.

To rotate an image or images, first select them in the Lightroom Library Grid View. If you hold down your Cmd key (Mac) or Ctrl key (Windows PC) whilst clicking, you can select multiple images. By the way, you can also select and rotate multiple thumbnails using the icons mentioned above.

After selecting the images, click the Photo menu at the top of the Lightroom interface. This has options to Rotate Left (which is counter-clockwise) or Rotate Right (which is clockwise). The Photo menu is also available in the Lightroom Develop Module but only works with the current image.

You can see the options in the following screenshot.

Using the Lightroom Photo menu options to rotate images

In addition to being able to rotate an image left or right, the menu also has options to flip the image horizontally and vertically. Here’s a screenshot showing the options applied to two thumbnails.

Images flipped horizontally and vertically in Lightroom

Here, image 1 has been flipped vertically, whilst image 2 has been flipped horizontally, so that the engine is now facing left rather than right. If you were now to rotate image 1 through 180 degrees, you would find that it’s also facing the same direction as image 2.

Using the Lightroom Popup Menu

In addition to using the Photo menu at the top of the Lightroom interface, you can right click on any thumbnail to access a popup menu. In the popup menu you will find the Rotate Left and Rotate Right options. Clicking one of these options will rotate all the selected images in that direction. These options are only available in the menu when using the Lightroom Library Grid View. You can also right click on the thumbnails in the film strip running along the bottom of the Lightroom interface in both the Library and Develop Modules.

Rotate an Image Using Lightroom Shortcuts

Possibly the easiest and quickest way to rotate images left and right using Lightroom is with keyboard shortcuts. All you need to do is remember a couple of keystrokes:

  1. To rotate an image left or counter clockwise, press the Cmd and [ keys together on your Mac keyboard. If you’re using a Windows PC that’s the Ctrl and [ keys.
  2. To rotate the image to the right or clockwise, press the Cmd and ] keys on your Mac keyboard. If you’re using a Windows PC that’s Ctrl and ].

You can continue to rotate the image by holding down your Cmd and Ctrl key and repeatedly pressing the [ or ] keys. Each time you press the key it rotates the image (or selected images) left or right through 90 degrees.

Of course, you may want to rotate images by less than 90 degrees, to say level a sloping horizon. Lightroom also provides several easy ways to do that which I explain in this separate tutorial.

Rotating an Image in Lightroom Summary

There you have it, three quick and easy ways to rotate an image in Lightroom Classic CC:

  1. Click the icons to the bottom left and right of the image thumbnail when you hover your mouse over them in the Library module.
  2. Select and rotate one or more images using the Rotate Left and Rotate Right options in the Photo menu. This also gives access to the commands to Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical.
  3. Use the keyboard shortcuts Cmd + [ or ] on a Mac or Ctrl + [ or ] on a Windows PC.

More Lightroom Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Adobe Lightroom Tutorials page.

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