Previewing Aspect Ratios With The Crop Tool In Lightroom
October 8, 2013
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Have you ever cropped an image, hoping that it could be printed in a number of print sizes, only to find out that you’ve lopped off someone’s arm for one print size and their feet for another?

Whether it’s an online service like Zenfolio or SmugMug or your local retail store, most printers will allow you to submit one image and then adjust the crop when you select a print size. That’s handy so you don’t have to export your image for every possible aspect ratio, but if your initial crop is uninformed, you could easily find yourself in a situation when you have to go back and readjust the crop.

Fortunately, Lightroom provides a way to preview multiple aspect ratios while in the Crop tool using the Guide Overlay.

Show The Aspect Ratios Guide Overlay

The guide overlay is visible while in the Crop tool. Enable the Crop tool by clicking on the tool or using the shortcut R.

You can select the Aspect Ratios overlay by navigating to Tools > Crop Guide Overlay and selecting Aspect Ratios.

Lightroom Fanatic - Crop Guide Overlay Menu

Lightroom Fanatic – Crop Guide Overlay Menu

Cycle through the overlays using the shortcut O.


Lightroom Fanatic - Crop Guide Overlay - Aspect Ratios

Lightroom Fanatic – Crop Guide Overlay – Aspect Ratios

The guide lines will show you what your image will look like at the different aspect ratios, allowing you to decide if your current crop will work in the ratios that you have selected. If you adjust your crop, the guide lines will stay visible inside the crop area, so you can easily adjust to get the right crop for your image that will fit in to the right ratios.

Change The Aspect Ratio Previews

You can change which aspect ratios are displayed on the overlay by navigating to Tools > Crop Guide Overlay > Choose Aspect Ratios… You will see the dialog below where you can check the aspect ratios that you want to see.

Lightroom Fanatic - Choose Aspect Ratios

Lightroom Fanatic – Choose Aspect Ratios

The most common print sizes are available, such as 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. But Lightroom also provides a 1×1 square, and 8.5×11 standard piece of U.S. paper, and even a 16×9 preview, which I’ve used to generate stills for HD video projects.


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