Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Resetting Photos in Lightroom

A question from a friend: I accidentally did a sync settings and it affected everything in a library.  Is there a way to force an undo back to “as shot” on all the JPGs and DNGs in the library?

My response: This is easy to do, and you have a couple of options for how to approach it.

Option 1: Undo the Sync by pressing Cmd-Z or Ctrl-Z, or selecting the Undo command under the Edit menu.

Option 2: if you can’t undo the sync (such as due to quitting Lightroom and coming back later, or for any other reason) you can Reset the photos.

If you want to Reset everything in the catalog, you can use the All Photographs image source for this. In the Library module, click on All Photographs in the Catalog panel.

If you only want to Reset some of the photos, you need to create a filtered source. You can use the Filter Bar or Smart Collections for this (more about this is in my Lightroom 2 book).

In either case, once you have the photos showing that you want to Reset, select them all (Cmd-A or Ctrl-A).

With the photos selected, press Shift-Cmd-R or Shift-Ctrl-R to Reset the photos’ Develop settings. (In the Library module, the Reset command is under the Photo > Develop Settings menu.)

Be careful when resetting; it will remove any adjustments you’ve made to the selected photos.


  1. I did something worse than this. After getting new hardware because of previous problems, I deleted my LR catalog and started all over again, importing all of my work. I forgot that even if not using a pre-set, LR has some default values on Import – modest sharpening for example.

    Here’s the problem – I had already finished working on all of these files! I have a mixture of DNG’s, TIFF’s and PSD’s, none of which I wanted any further adjustments on. If I select them all, zero out all of the LR adjustments and then synch, do they go back to the stage upon my re-import, or will then go to absolute zero values as iI had never worked on them at all? I automically save changes to XMP. Thanks.

  2. Andrew-
    By default, Reset will revert a photo back to the settings that were applied on import. This means that if a Develop Preset was applied, that will become the reset state; if not, the Lightroom Defaults will be used.

    However, in your case, if you had always been automatically saving XMP changes, you *should* be OK! Because When Importing photos, if Lightroom find XMP settings, it will preserve and respect them.

    By default TIF, PSD and JPG will be imported as Zeroed (no adjustments) because Lightroom will assume they’ve already been processed UNLESS there are XMP settings present.

    Look carefully at your photos and their settings to determine if anything really has changed. You may find that everything was retained from the previous editing.

    In the future, if you want to migrate files from one catalog to another, use the Import/Export to/from catalog options. This will ensure all your adjustments — plus collections and virtual copies — will remain intact in the new catalog.

  3. Hi! I have a problem hoping you can help me with… I exported my edited colour photos from lightroom and then batch processed them (synced settings) to black and white – half way through adjusting the black and white’s I realised only a third of the colour shots exported! So I tried clicking undo to go back but I could only undo my last few settings and after a few clicks the undo button greyed out so I was unsuccessful at getting back to my colour shots I edited. Is there any way I can get the edited colour shots back?? I on’t want to press “reset” – as this will only give me the original files unedited and all my hard work down the drain…. Please help!!! 🙂

  4. Mandi – all your edits to photos in Lightroom have unlimited History, accessed from the History panel in the left side of the Develop module. You can go back to any point, in this case the last step before you Synced the settings.

    But going forward, it’s always best to use Virtual Copies when you want to create several versions of photos. VCs allow you to maintain all your separate versions in the catalog without requiring you to Export separate files at any point in the workflow. To make a VC, you can right click (or control+click) on a photo snd select Make Virtual Copy from the popup menu.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for your comment!

  5. We had a photographer take our wedding photos and they turned some of them into Black and white photos using Lightroom. I have a copy of all our photos and trying to revert some of the photos back to color using Lightroom but I am not having good luck as I am new to the Lightroom software. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Vern, thanks for reading my blog and commenting. There are situations in which you can’t reset a photo to it’s ‘original’ (or ‘unprocessed’) state.

      If a photographer uses Lightroom, or any other software, to make adjustments to photos and then saves new image files with those adjustments, the changes are permanently applied to the photo. We call these changes ‘baked in’, and they can’t be undone.

      However, it is also possible to apply changes to photos in Lightroom and save those changes into the image files only as metadata, in which case the adjustments will still be visible in compatible software yet are not baked in.

      It’s only in the second instance that you can reset a photo back to its original, unaltered state.

      Using Lightroom, you can tell if the edits are in metadata only or if they have been baked in. In the Develop module, look in the History panel. If you can see all the History steps showing the editing work, including the conversion to black and white, you can reset the photo back to the original state by clicking the bottom hiHistory state (usually Import) or by clicking the Reset button (at the bottom right of the Develop window).

      If your wedding photographer converted the photos to black and white and gave you new files that had been saved with those changes, there is no way to go back to the color version. You would need to get copies of the original, unedited files.

      Also, many cameras allow capturing the photos in black and white, in which case there is usually no color version to go back to. (Hopefully no competent wedding photographer would ever do this, but you never know…)


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