Today’s Question: I am working in Lightroom Classic. Sometimes my Lightroom screen will–all of a sudden and randomly–only show my pictures. My panels and filmstrip are gone (black area). What am I hitting and what do I need to do to get them back? Currently I quit and reopen to get them back.
Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like you are inadvertently entering “Lights Out” view in Lightroom Classic. You can toggle between the dimmed mode, full Lights Out mode, and normal mode, by pressing the letter “L” on the keyboard.
More Detail: The “Lights Out” view in Lightroom Classic can certainly be helpful in terms of enabling you to focus exclusively on an image (or multiple images) without the distraction of the overall Lightroom Classic interface. Of course, if you’re accidentally entering Lights Out view it can be a bit disconcerting.
You can access the Lights Out view options on the Window menu on the menu bar in Lightroom Classic. Simply choose Window > Lights Out, and then select either Lights Off (for a black interface so you only see your photos), Lights Dim (so the interface is dimmed so it is not very visible, but the photos appear normally), or Lights On (so you see the full normal interface along with your photos).
You can also press the letter “L” on the keyboard to cycle through these three Lights Out views. The first time you press “L” the interface will be dimmed, with the photos appearing normally. The second time you press “L” the interface will be blacked out, and the third time you press “L” you’ll return to the normal view mode.
The Lights Out view is especially helpful when you are in the Loupe view, so you can focus more attention on the single image you’re browsing. But of course, you may also find this view option helpful even in the grid view display, so you can review a set of thumbnails without distraction.
Most importantly, of course, is to understand that this view option exists, so that if you accidentally press the “L” key on the keyboard, you’ll know why the Lightroom Classic interface got dimmed or hidden.