Sync Settings and Auto Sync in the Lightroom Develop Module
Last week, we looked at using Quick Develop in Adobe Lightroom to adjust multiple images at the same time. It's time to go over a feature known as "Sync Settings" that is may seem similar, but is in fact quite different.
As a review, Quick Develop can be found in the Library module. With it, you can easily make changes to an image without ever switching to the full Develop module. Better yet, if you select multiple images from the grid view, you can adjust them together.
Obviously, the Develop module lets you make changes to the image you are working on. That's its whole reason for being there. But while Develop normally works on one image at a time, it does have the means to work on more than one too.
After you have made whatever changed you need to on one image you may decide that at least part of what you did would make a great starting point for one or more other images. With the image you just worked on still active in Develop, hold down the Control key (Command key on Mac OS X) and select the other images in the filmstrip panel across the bottom of Lightroom. If you need to select a range of images, you can hold down the Shift key instead. Whatever way you prefer to select the images involved, you need to end up with the one with the settings you wish to copy as the active image in the Develop window. Regardless, when more than one image is selected the usual "Previous" button at the bottom of the right hand group of panels turns into either a "Sync..." button or an "Auto Sync" button. Which label it has depends on whether or not the Control (Command) key is currently held down.
Without the Control key pressed the button will say "Sync...". Pressing it will reveal a dialog with countless types of edit settings listed with associated check boxes. Select which ever ones you would like to copy from the active image to the remaining ones chose in the filmstrip and click on the Synchronize button. Whatever changes of the selected types you made the active image will now be automatically done to the others. With this method, you edit one image, then copy those changes to other images.
If instead you select multiple images, hold down the Control key and click on "Auto Sync" there is no dialog box, but now any changes you make to the active image will occur not only to it, but also to all the other selected images, in real time. Increase the Vibrance of the active image and the others get more vibrant too. Decrease exposure of one and you decrease the exposure of them all. When you aer finished with the changes you want to sync, click on "Auto Sync" again to turn sync mode back off. With this method, you select the images to be edited first, then proceed to edit one of them and watch as all of them reflect those edits in the filmstrip panel.
But unlike with Quick Develop, the setting changes made by either Sync or Auto Sync will completely override whatever edits you may have previously made to the target images. Quick Develop will change all the images involved relative to how each started. Sync and Auto Sync will replace changes previously made. Quick Develop adds or subtracts while Sync and Auto Sync set the sliders for the target images so they equal those of the image you are working on.
Not everything will be overridden of course, only those of the types checked in the Sync dialog, or those of the types you change with Auto Sync mode active. If you turn on Auto Synch and then change the exposure and white balance sliders, only the exposure and white balance of the target images will change. Everything else remains unsynchronized.
Sometimes you may want Quick Develop and other times Sync settings may fit your needs better. Remembering which does what is the trick since how Adobe labeled isn't all that clear.