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Lightroom Quick Tip of the Week: Viewing and Zooming in on Two Photos Side by Side

In my tutorial on jpeg quality, I displayed two photos side by side and zoomed in on them together to compare them up close. A reader asked me how I did this — thanks to this reader for giving me the idea for Friday’s Lightroom Quick Tip.

In the Library module, select your two photos (click on the first, Ctl/Cmd-click on the second). Then, in the toolbar below the grid, click on the X/Y button — this is Compare view. The shortcut “C” also works.

lightroom toolbar compare view


This displays both photos next to each other.  (In my example they look like the same photo, but really are two different versions).

Lightroom compare view


Notice that one of them has a white frame around it — this is the active one.  To make the other one the active one, click inside it.

Your mouse is the zoom tool, so click anywhere inside the active photo to zoom in to that spot in the photo.  If the padlock in the toolbar below your photos is locked, Lightroom will zoom both photos in to the same spot together.  If it is unlocked, it will only zoom the active one. Click on the padlock to change the lock status.

You can control how far Lightroom zooms in either with the Zoom slider in the toolbar or the Navigator panel.

Once you are zoomed in, your cursor becomes the hand tool — click and drag to pan around in your photos. If you want only one to move, click on the padlock to unlock it before you drag the hand tool.

If you have been zooming or panning just one photo and want to get the other one to the same zoom and location, click the Sync button.

Of course you can learn  more about Compare View and all of Lightroom’s different views on my Lightroom Fundamentals and Beyond Workshop on DVD.  Do check it out!

Have a great weekend.


PS:  If you read my jpeg quality post and are wondering how I could compare jpeg quality results within Lightroom, I exported the photo with two different quality settings, and selected  “Add to this Catalog” in the Export dialog so that I could work with the jpegs in Lightroom.


2017-07-09T12:14:34-07:00 October 21st, 2011|8 Comments


  1. […] Lightroom Quick Tip of the Week: Viewing and Zooming in on Two Photos Side by Side […]

  2. Lightroom Thursday! » Heninger Fotographik October 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    […] has a couple of nice quick tips: Viewing and zooming on two photos side by side, How to see images side by side when […]

  3. Rob Wood August 27, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

    For some unknown reason the entire toolbar below the grid is missing. It’s just not there when I am in Library module. Yet when I go the Develop module the toolbar with the YY and other options is there.
    Can you possibly suggest what I can do to rectify this?

    • Laura Shoe September 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Type “T” for Toolbar, Rob.

  4. David Hardingham March 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Many thanks Laura. I very rarely view two photos side by side, since I didn’t realize that this was such a powerful way to compare two photos. Even though I have been using Lightroom for many years, there is still so much more to learn.

    • Laura Shoe March 13, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, David – I’m happy to hear the tip was useful to you! By the way, I hear from lots of users like you that despite their years of experience they learned a lot from my Lightroom CC/6 and 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond video series (where Compare view is covered in full.)

  5. Ray Baxter March 13, 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Hi Laura
    Just see your show on Lightroom very good, For the first time I began to see how it all works and how I will get the best from it. Have been using Bridge For a little time but think that Lightroom will be better in the long run.
    Thanks for the show, Keep up good work

    • Laura Shoe March 13, 2016 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Hi Ray,

      I’m very happy to hear that you found the webinar useful. Thank you for your note!

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