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How to Rotate, Flip and Straighten a Photo in Adobe Lightroom

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Today, we show you how to rotate a photo in Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom Mobile. Adobe Lightroom gives you many tools to fix a crooked picture, add a diagonal line for a more dynamic composition, or flip an image to create a mirror image.

The many toolbars, menus, shortcuts, and editing panels, create confusion. Some rotation tools are hidden, and you need to turn them on.

And they may even be in different places in Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC and even function differently. But, don’t worry! These techniques in Lightroom are simple once you find the tools.

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How to Rotate a Photo 90˚ in Lightroom

Rotate multiple photos or a single image in Lightroom by 90˚ clockwise or counterclockwise. Rotate again for a 180˚ rotation. Keep turning, and you are back where you started.

Bridge image rotated in lightroom 90 degrees, 180 degrees, 260 degrees
Original image (far left) rotated three times by 90˚

Option 1: Use Rotation Arrows

Rotation arrows are on the toolbar below the image in Lightroom Classic’s Loupe view (View >  Loupe). Click the arrow on the left to rotate your image counterclockwise. The arrow on the right rotates your image clockwise. This option only appears in the Library module (Window > Library). It does not appear when you open the toolbar in Grid view or the Develop module.

Lightroom classic screenshot of toolbar rotate arrows in library module

In Lightroom Classic’s Grid view, rotation arrows appear in the bottom corners when hovering over image thumbnails. If you do not see the arrows, go to the View drop-down menu. Select View > View Options (Ctrl/Command+J). Check the box next to ‘Show Grid Extras’ and choose ‘Expanded Cells’ from the menu.

Lightroom classic screenshot of rotation arrows on a thumbnail photo

Option 2: Rotate a Photo in the Crop and Rotate Panel

The rotation arrows appear in Lightroom CC and Mobile in the Crop & Rotate panel. Click the Crop & Rotate icon in the right-hand column to open the panel. Or go to the View drop-down menu and select View > Edit Tools > Crop & Rotate (C).

Lightroom CC screenshot of Crop & Rotate panel

Option 3: Rotate a Photo with Shortcut Keys

These are shortcut keys to rotate a photo in Lightroom:

  • Control/Command+[ rotates the image counterclockwise
  • Control/Command+] rotates the image clockwise

These work in both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC. They also work in the Library and Develop modules and Loupe and Grid views.

Option 4: Use Rotate Commands under Menus

Rotate commands are in the Photo drop-down menu. Click Photo > Rotate Left (CCW) or Photo > Rotate Right (CW). The commands also appear when you right-click on a thumbnail either in the filmstrip or in Grid view.

Lightroom Classic screenshot of photo menu option rotate right

But they do not appear if you right-click on an image in Loupe view. To access the rotate commands in Loupe view, right-click on the image and select Transform. Transform is only available in Lightroom Classic.

Option 5: Rotating Multiple Photos

In Grid view, you can rotate multiple images at the same time. Select the photos you want to rotate in the grid or the filmstrip. Use the keyboard shortcuts or menu commands to rotate pictures. In Loupe view, only the first selected image turns.

Screenshot of Lightroom classic filmstrip with four landscape photos rotated
How to Create a Mirror Image in Lightroom

You can also flip a photo in Lightroom vertically or horizontally. This creates a mirror image of the original. Flipping an image horizontally changes the direction of lines in the frame. You may be surprised at how different your composition looks. Be aware that any text in the photo will be backwards. The flip commands are sometimes near the rotation tools. But not always.

Screenshot of Lightroom Classic images vertically flipped and horizontally flipped
Original image (left), flipped vertically (middle), and horizontally (right)

Option 1: Flip Commands under Menus

Under the Photo drop-down menu, you can Flip your image horizontally (Photo > Flip Horizontal) or vertically (Photo > Flip Vertical). To access the flip commands in Loupe view, right-click on the image and select Transform. Transform is only available in Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom CC screenshot of photo menu flip vertical command

Option 2: Flip Shortcuts

Use a keyboard shortcut to flip a photo in Lightroom CC. They do not work in Lightroom Classic:

  • Use Shift+Ctrl/Command+[ to flip the photo horizontally
  • Use Shift+Ctrl/Command+] to flip the photo vertically

Option 3: Flip in Crop & Rotate Panel

In Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile, you can create a mirror image from the Crop panel. These tools do not appear in the Crop & Straighten panel in Lightroom Classic.

Screenshot of Lightroom CC crop panel with rotate and flip tools
Rotate counterclockwise, rotate clockwise, flip horizontally, and flip vertically in Lightroom CC

How to Straighten a Photo in Lightroom

There are several ways to straighten a photo in Lightroom. And a few tools to help make sure you do it right.

Option 1: Rotate a Photo by Degrees

To rotate a photo in Lightroom by a few degrees, use the Crop tool. In Lightroom Classic, the Crop & Straighten tool is in the Develop module. In Lightroom CC, click the Crop icon in the right-hand column. The crop panels are similar but not the same.

Screenshots comparing Lightroom Classic Crop & Rotate panel with Lightroom CC crop panel
Lightroom Classic (left) and Lightroom CC (right) crop panels

Move the Angle or Straighten Tool

The Angle slider (Classic) or Straighten slider (CC) rotates your image in increments from 0˚ in the centre to 45˚ at each end. Move the angle tool to the right to turn a photo clockwise. Move it to the left to rotate counterclockwise.

To manually input degrees of rotation, click on the number to the right of the slider. Start with the minus sign if you want to rotate counterclockwise. Enter 0 or double click on the word ‘Angle’ in Classic or ‘Straighten’ in CC to reset the rotation.

Option 2: Use the Spirit Level Tool or Level Line

You can rotate a photo by choosing a line that should be straight. Use the Spirit Level tool to the left of the Angle slider. The Spirit Level tool pops out and attaches to your cursor.

Drag along a line in your image that you want to be level. When you release, Lightroom adjusts your photo to make this line level.

Hold the option key after selecting the spirit level tool. This attaches a grid to your line and helps you level the entire photo.

Lightroom screenshot of Spirit Level tool on a black and white waterfall image

There is no Spirit Level icon in Lightroom CC. But hold the Ctrl/Command key and drag a line across your image. When you release, Lightroom rotates the image to level this line. This shortcut also works in Lightroom Classic.

Option 3: Auto Straighten

To automatically straighten a photo in Lightroom, click the Auto button above the Angle or Straighten slider. Lightroom straightens the image by referencing a clear line. If a line is not apparent, the program returns the message, ‘Could not straighten this photo automatically’. To auto level in Lightroom Mobile, click the Spirit Level tool.

Option 4: Use a Corner Crop Handle

Opening the Crop panel adds handles to the corners of your image. Hover your cursor over a corner, and it changes to a curved double arrow. Drag the corner left to rotate a photo counterclockwise. Drag it right to rotate clockwise. In Lightroom Mobile, drag the corners or use the measurement tool under the image.

Lightroom Mobile screenshot of rotating an image by dragging a corner handle

How to Turn on the Crop Overlay Tool

To help you straighten a photo, Lightroom Classic will show a crop grid overlay. You have a few options. Go to the Tool drop-down menu again and select Tool > Crop Guide Overlay.

You can choose from eight overlays that relate to popular compositional guidelines. For instance, choose ‘Thirds’ to help you crop your image using the rule of thirds. You can even choose to show an aspect ratio overlay.

Click ‘O’ to cycle through the crop overlays. To turn the overlay off, click ‘H’.
Screenshot of Lightroom Classic tool menu and crop overlay rule of thirds option

In Lightroom CC, the overlay options are in a drop-down menu directly under the Straighten slider. To hide or show the overlay, use Ctrl/Command+O. Or go to the drop-down menu and select View > Edit Tools > Show Overlay > Overlay.

Conclusion

There are many ways to flip or rotate a photo in Lightroom. You can do it quickly or be precise. Explore the tools placed throughout Lightroom and find the ones you like. You will soon learn how to rotate a photo in Lightroom!

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