7 Useful Lightroom Plugins Everyone Should Have

Lightroom Plugins

Lightroom plugins are great to add extra functionality to the program by allowing you to do things that aren’t a regular Lightroom feature. There are plenty of plug-ins available, so it can get a little difficult to know which one is useful. Though there may be different plugins for different needs, we have created a list of plugins that most users will find useful. In order to use these plugins, you will have to first learn how to install them. We mention that right at the end of the post. If you want to start with that, scroll right at the bottom. Here’s the list:

1. The Fader

If you use presets, you know they save a bunch of time. You simply just click once and you have the look you want. They are particularly helpful when you are trying to create a consistent look for an entire shoot. I have an architecture client who’s very particular that the wood color comes across the same as he had intended it. I know that the lighting conditions are the same throughout the shoot; and once I have achieved the right color & the right white balance on one photograph, I can simply create a preset and apply that to the rest of the photos. As you can imagine, the presets save me a bunch of time to achieve a consistent look through out the shoot.

The issue though is that sometimes the preset ends up looking different on different photographs. On some, it may end up looking too much and you may need to tone it down. On others, it may look a bit less and there may be a need to turn it up a notch. The Fader plugin allows you to adjust the preset strength with a single slider. This is a much better than going to each individual slider and adjusting the values on them separately. The plugin doesn’t really affect the actual preset, but automatically calculates the new values internally and moves all the sliders for you, fading or intensifying the overall effect of the preset.

Simply move one slider and it’ll adjust the overall strength of a preset

2. Lightroom to Instagram

Instagram is a great place to showcase your photography. Instagram encourages that you upload your photos to their platform only through your phones. For us photographers though, who shoot with our heavy cameras, this can be a tedious process. First, we transfer our photos from our cameras to the computer, import them into Lightroom, then we need to get them on our phones either with a data cable, or transferring through a cloud service like Dropbox; and only then we are able to upload them to Instagram. The LR/Instagram plugin removes all of these steps and allows you to post your photographs to your Instagram account directly from inside of Lightroom. Once you install the plugin, you’ll see the LR/Instagram tab in the Publishing Services panel in the Library module. Just click Set Up… , then add your Instagram credentials and log in.

Once you are logged in, you can simply drag a photo onto the LR/Instagram collection and it’ll be ready to publish. Then, either right-click on the Instagram folder name, or from the Grid view (G), click the Publish button. You can add any captions or tags in the Metadata panel on the right side.

Once you hit publish, the photo will appear on your Instagram feed. A super quick way to add photos to Instagram directly from inside of Lightroom. No more having to do this the long way.

3. Lightroom to Facebook

Lightroom already has a Publish Service for Facebook. We can publish our photos from inside of Lightroom directly to Facebook. So, why do we need another plug-in for it? With Lightroom’s default Facebook Publish Service, you can only publish your photos to your personal profile. If you own a business page or want to add photos to an album in a group, you can’t publish to that using this service. The Export to Facebook plugin by Jeffrey Friedl allows you to do that. You don’t have to be limited anymore to publishing your photos just to your profile.

Once you have the plugin installed, you’ll see it in the Publish Services panel. You can connect it to your Facebook account in a similar way that we saw above for Instagram. Once everything is set up and ready, you can create albums like you would create Collections. Simply right-click on the jf Facebook tab and click on Create Album…

From the dialog that opens, you can select the name of your album, the business page you want to publish the album on, it’s description and location. You also have options up top similar to what you get in Collections. You can set this album as a Target Collection and then add photos to it with it’s shortcut. Simply select the photo from your library and hit the key and it’ll end up in your newly created album.

Once you’ve created the album, which will show as a Collection under the jf Facebook tab, then you can either right-click on the jf Facebook button and select Publish Now from the menu or hit the Publish button on top in the Grid view (G) in the Library module. Anything you’ve added in the Captions field in the Metadata panel will be displayed as the caption of the photo on Facebook.

4. Show Focus Points

If you want to know which of your camera’s focus points were used and whether focus was achieved or not, the Show Focus Points plugin is for you. For now, it works with most Nikon and Canon cameras and some Sony camera, but hopefully there’ll be support for others too in the future. It not only shows the position of the focus points used, it also provides all available focus information such as focus distance, focus mode etc. It only works in the Library module. Once it’s installed, go to the Library menu and in that Plug-in Extras > Show Focus Points. That’ll open up a dialog highlighting all your focus points and showing you which one was used.

5. Backup Cleaner

You can set up Lightroom to back up your catalog file every so often. Over time though, you will end up with backups of your catalogs from a long time ago, which will not really be needed, because all that information is also present in the latest backup. Because Lightroom will be doing it automatically after you set it up, you may not even remember that these backups were made and are still lying somewhere on your hard drive taking up plenty of valuable space. The Backup Cleaner plugin will automatically clean up backups older than the number of days you specify to it. It is a paid plug-in, but the cost isn’t too high, only $6.99. You can download it for free, but without the license key, it won’t work.
Once you install it, you just have to specify how many days of backup would you like to keep and what’s the minimum number of backups for each catalog that should always be there. Once you set it up, you don’t have to think about deleting old backups. It does the job for you.

6. Keyboard Tamer

Shortcuts make your workflow much faster. But, there are some things in Lightroom which either don’t have a shortcut, or the shortcut already assigned is a little counter-intuitive. In the post titled 6 Secrets about Lightroom You Didn’t Know, we mentioned a technique where you can quickly display all the shortcuts of a particular module with a simple shortcut. That can be helpful to remember the shortcuts, but what do you do if you want to give your own shortcuts to certain tasks? With Keyboard Tamer, you can redefine the shortcuts in Lightroom to make them more personalized. You can assign your own shortcuts to any command using this plugin. After installation, simply go to File > Plug-in Manager and under the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, you’ll have the ability to add your own or modify existing shortcuts.

7. PhotoSafe

If you’re like most photographers, you shoot a lot more photographs than you use. Over time that can mean a lot of extra photographs in your hard drive. Certainly when your hard drives get full, you would want to reclaim some extra space by deleting the unused photographs. But, if it’s been a while since the time you did that shoot, you may even end up deleting photographs that you did use and may need in the future. The PhotoSafe plugin allows you to protect selected images and videos from deletion. If you try to remove a photo from your library that’s protected by PhotoSafe, you’ll get a message like this.

The way it works is that the plugin will appear under Publish Services where once you set it up, it’ll create a collection Can’t Be Deleted From Lightroom. Any photos you put in that collection and then hit the Publish button, those photos can’t be deleted from your Lightroom catalog, regardless of where you access them from.

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How to Install Lightroom Plugins

When you download any Lightroom plugin, it’ll come as a compressed ZIP file. Save that ZIP file to any location on your hard drive and uncompress it. If you have one folder for all your plug-ins, it’ll make it easier for you to know where to go.

Then, inside of Lightroom, open the File menu and choose Plug-in Manager. Once the Lightroom Plugin Manager opens up, click on the Add button at the bottom left corner. In most cases, you will then navigate to the folder where you uncompressed the downloaded ZIP file; and choose the plugin folder. This will add the plugin to the list on the left side of the Lightroom Plugin Manager, and you can then set it up. There may be some special instructions to install or set up plugin, which should be specified on the website you downloaded it from, so make sure to look out for those.

Conclusion

Lightroom plugins are a great way to add functionality to Lightroom that wasn’t already there. The list above is by no means an exhaustive one. There are plenty of other plugins and there may be some that are more suited for your workflow than the ones listed above. What Lightroom plugins do you use? What do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section.

Shajee Aijazi

Shajee Aijazi is the founder of Digital Darkroom Academy. He helps people speed up their post-processing workflow and organize their photos in a way that they don't have to waste time managing it and they can focus on creating great looking images.

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