One of the first panels you notice in Lightroom is the Navigator Panel. Located near the upper-left of the Lightroom interface, this oft forsaken panel can be quite useful.
In essence, the Navigator Panel shows a thumbnail version of the active, or “most selected,” image. It also, as you may gather from its name, allows you to quickly zoom in on a specific area of an image and navigate around to the areas you want to see.
- As you hover over the image in the Navigator Panel, your cursor will turn into a small magnifying glass icon.
- As soon as you click, your image will appear zoomed in the main viewing area (the center of the Lightroom interface). You’ll also get a small rectangle on your image in the Navigator Panel. This rectangle indicates the area of your image that’s being shown in the main viewing area.
- You can manually drag this box around the image in the Navigator Panel and the area being viewed will instantly update in the main viewing area.
- Click on the top of the Navigator Panel to hide and show it. Optionally, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Cmnd+0 on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+0 on a PC to show and hide the panel. Click here to view some of my other favorite keyboard shortcuts.
- The Navigator Panel doesn’t play by the same rules as the panels below it. If you have your panels in Solo Mode (right-click on the header of one of the panels below the Navigator and choose Solo Mode), the Navigator Panel won’t hide automatically when you open another panel. You’ll have to open and close it manually.
There are four links at the top of the Navigator Panel which control how much you’re zoomed in. (Click on each image below to get a better view.)
- Fit – Fits the entire image within the main viewing area.
- Fill – Zooms the photo in to fill the main viewing area. Portions of your image will typically be outside the viewing area. The rectangle on your image in the Navigator Panel shows you which portion of your image is being shown. You can manually move the rectangle in the Navigator Panel to move around your image or you can click and drag on your actual image in the main viewing area to move it around.
- 1:1 – Zooms the photo to 100%, or actual pixels, view. Again, the rectangle on your image in the Navigator Panel shows you which portion of your image is being shown. You can manually move the rectangle in the Navigator Panel to move around your image or you can click and drag on your actual image in the main viewing area to move it around.
- 3:1 (or whatever ratio appears here) – Zooms the photo to the specified zoom level. The navigation techniques mentioned above still hold true. Click on the double-arrows to the right of the 3:1 to choose another zoom level. They’re defined below.
- 1:4 – View at 1/4 of actual pixel size.
- 1:3 – View at 1/3 of actual pixel size.
- 1:4 – View at 1/2 of actual pixel size.
- 2:1 – View at 200% of actual pixel size.
- 3:1 – View at 300% of actual pixel size.
- 4:1 – View at 400% of actual pixel size.
- 8:1 – View at 800% of actual pixel size.
- 11:1 – View at 1100% of actual pixel size. That’s 11 times larger than actual size. Wow. I can’t think of when I’d really need anything larger than 2:1 or 3:1.
In the Develop Module, the Navigator Panel offers another interesting function. As you mouse over Preset, Snapshots and/or History steps, the potential changes to your image will be reflected live in the Navigator Panel.
The thumbnail in the Navigator Panel is a bit small to tell sometimes, but I still find myself looking up there as I mouse over Presets or History steps to see if I like the change. More often, however, I just click on the Preset or History step, then follow it up with a Cmd/Ctrl-Z to Undo if I don’t like it.
Here’s one other tweak that some people may like. In the Lightroom Preferences dialog under the Interface tab, if you check Show photos in navigator on mouse-over, the image displayed in the Navigator will change as you hover your mouse over different images in the film strip at the bottom of the Lightroom interface.
I find this behavior a bit annoying, personally, but you may like it. Give it a try.
The video below demonstrates some of the features that I discussed above.
Thanks for visiting. As always, comments are more than welcome.