Using the Snapshot Feature in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Develop Module

December 19, 2008 | | Comments 28

Lightroom Snapshots Panel

Lightroom’s Snapshots panel tends to go unnoticed by many Lightroom users, but I find it an incredibly useful feature. Basically, a “snapshot” is a version of your image that you like and way want to revert back to later on. After you’ve made a snapshot of your image, you can continue to experiment with different develop settings, knowing that you can always go back to the version you liked.

To fully understand the way that snapshots work in Lightroom, you may want to review the following articles:

The important thing to remember here is that snapshots are not additional copies of your photos. Because Lightroom makes no actual changes to your images until you export them, snapshots take up very little hard drive space on your computer.

The Snapshots panel is located on the left side of the Develop Module in Lightroom. By default, all images enter Lightroom with one snapshot called “Import.” Clicking this snapshot, not surprisingly, will show you your image as it looked when you first brought it into Lightroom.

Making additional snapshots couldn’t be easier. Once you’ve made some develop changes to an image, simply click the plus sign (+) at the top of the Snapshots panel. The keyboard shortcut to create a new snapshot is Cmd/Ctrl+N.

Click the plus sign to create a new snapshot.

Click the plus sign to create a new snapshot.

Once you’ve created your new snapshot, give it a useful name.

Name your snapshot.

Name your snapshot.

Once you’ve created a snapshot, you can right-click (or Ctrl-click) on it for some more options.

Right-click on the name of the snapshot for more options.

Right-click on the name of the snapshot for more options.

  • Copy Snapshot Settings to Before – This has to do with the “Before and After View” feature in Lightroom. Keep an eye out for a post coming soon on Using Before and After Views in Lightroom’s Develop Module.
  • Rename – Allows you to rename the current snapshot.
  • Update with Current Settings – Changes the snapshot to whatever develop settings are currently being applied to the active image.
  • Delete – Well…take a guess. (You can also delete a snapshot by selecting it and clicking the minus sign (-) at the top of the Snapshots panel.)

As you mouse over your snapshots in the Snapshots panel, you’ll see a preview of the image in the Navigator panel.

Snapshots stick around with your images. If you’ve saved the metadata to the image files (or their sidecar files), you’ll even see snapshots available if you view your originals (“negative files”) in Camera Raw 5 (available with Photoshop CS4).

Snapshots available in Camera Raw 5

Snapshots available in Camera Raw 5


Snapshots can be used for a variety of reasons.

  • “Saving your progress” as you work in-depth on a particular image. Sure, you can always go back in the History panel, but it can be hard to remember which step you liked best. (Hint: Right-click on a history step for the option to save it as a snapshot.)
  • Keeping a black and white and color version of an image.
  • Prepping versions to be shown to clients for review and approval.
  • For images you’re printing, make snapshots of different aspect ratios (i.e.-4×6, 8×10, etc). Crops stick with snapshots, as well.

Another Lightroom feature that is somewhat similar to snapshots is virtual copies. Virtual copies allow you to see what appears to be multiple versions of a photo in your library without actually having multiple copies of the original file. Cool, eh? We’ll talk more about that soon.

Here’s a short video on working with snapshots in Lightroom.

Working with Snapshots in Lightroom from Scott Rouse on Vimeo.


Filed Under: (05) Lightroom Image Enhancement (Basic)Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials


About the Author: Scott Rouse is an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE), photographer, teacher, and graphic- and web-designer in Missoula, MT. His photography focuses on wildlife and adventure sports and can be viewed at His design and consulting work can be seen at