VSCO Introduces Keys, A Keyboard Shortcut Tool For Lightroom

You're probably already familiar with VSCO from their film presets, but they just released a keyboard shortcut tool for Lightroom that might change the way you handle your workflow in a more powerful way.

VSCO Keys is a "powerful keyboard shortcut tool created to drastically reduce image editing time in Adobe Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 3." It accomplishes this by actually taking control of your keyboard and re-assigning every key to a shortcut. The tool comes with two standard layouts, plus you can actually use their web tool to create your own custom layouts. It runs as a little background utility and when you're in Lightroom and want to activate it, you just hit ESC and it flips they keyboard over to your shortcuts. Another hit of the ESC key brings you back to the standard keyboard layout. It's also pretty smart in that if you switch to another program besides Lightroom, it switches off; then back on again when you switch back to Lightroom.

Unfortunately, the product is only offered for Lightroom and I haven't found any information about it being worked on for other editing software. They're currently offering a free 14 day trial and if you've already purchased their film packs, you'll get 25% off the purchase. I've been using it for a few edits now and it has definitely sped up my workflow, although I'm still getting used to it so hopefully it will only improve my process more over time.

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Tam Nguyen's picture

That song and the VFX are epic.

That looks AMAZING. But $125?! What the heck?! That's almost the price of lightroom itself?!

There's gotta be a way to do this yourself. Anyone know?

You can do this with Paddy. https://sites.google.com/site/dorfl68/ I use Paddy with Logitech G13.

great idea..but woah..  seriously.  at what point did they think that charging $125 for keyboard mapping for only one application that itself only costs $150 was going to be a great idea!?  I bet if they charged $50, they might sell a whole heck of a lot more than they are now...and maybe at that price, I would be interested.  Yikes.

Yeah. I'd pay $50 for this. But $125?! Nuts.

Buy a Logitech G13 and use Paddy (free) instead.  Or just use Paddy with a keyboard.  Just google paddy for lightroom.

Thanks for the info. I really appreciate you sharing this treasure.

Thank you very much, G13 + Paddy is a so much better solution and works on other softwares too. I'm on my way to buy my G13 and will do a donation for Paddy for Lightroom's developer. :-)

P.S.: That $ 125 price tag is nuts. Is it for a software that I paid $ 199 for?

Aperture can do it on its own, standard and with no extra cost. Too bad LR can't! I switched this year, so no luck for me...

I love the idea, but I agree that if they sold it for $50 or even $25, they would sell a multitude more. I was just thinking last night that Lightroom has a very mouse-centric workflow. The #1 shortcut I want is crop to 8x10 in one keystroke.

 Use this it's free. https://sites.google.com/site/dorfl68/ You can donate a few dollars to the developer.

I actually have an old gaming mouse that I bound to LR's shortcuts, any device that you can make custom macros for should be able to do this.  No way I'd pay the price they are asking for this.

Yeah its way too expensive. I bought the film presets and honestly you get more for less from DXO film pack. I tried to get a refund but they wouldnt do it. Pretty unhappy and will never use them...it look like a lot because you are buying presets for all these different manufacturers but its really not all that great. I wont be getting this.

Check out Paddy for a FREE DIY solution

Paddy is "windows only", too bad

i cant wait for Lightroom 5

 It's coming in the next few weeks with lots of bugs. Like the ones that they are to embarrassed to write about in the change log.  http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/lr4_second_convert...

I struggled with this for a while, did a bunch of research and for my Mac eventually landed on using Keyboard Maestro ( http://www.keyboardmaestro.com ) and a standard bluetooth numpad keyboard - this a pretty good solution at a reasonable price, and best of all it works across any applications, not just LR.  Arguably with Mac you don't need Keybaord Maestro to make assignments as it is built into the OS, but for me Maestro allows rather complicated macro recording and that is where the bang for the buck is.

For example I use it from things like creating a 6 up compare for review (e.g. select the next 6 images, hide the view panes, and go to "N" mode).  Likewise I've mapped some export options and such so that a single keystroke triggers multiple output types (sizes, with and without logo, etc).This isn't a perfect solution though for LR as the issue though is the development module, and in particular the LR sliders.  Turns out Lightroom's SDK (from Adobe) sucks when it comes to the sliders, as a result standard keyboard mapping isn't reliable and you have to end up recording macros - at least as I understand it.   ( http://photographers-toolbox.com/products/keyboardtamer.php?sec=sliders )

I suspect this is why we're seeing mainly proprietary hacks for which people are charging big $ - and which may be Lightroom version specific.

Anyway there are a number of existing options I turned up and I'll list them here for others benefit:

Keyboard Maestro ( http://www.keyboardmaestro.com
Keyboard Tamer ( http://photographers-toolbox.com/products/keyboardtamer.php?sec=main )
(may be combined iPhone / iPad as a keyboard with http://photographers-toolbox.com/blog/2010/09/use-your-iphone-or-ipad-as... )
Paddy (Windows only https://sites.google.com/site/dorfl68/ - mac version is Knobroom http://www.knobroom.com )
RPGKeys ( http://rpgkeys.com - brace yourself it is $350 or more)

Hey guys, my name is Zach, I am the Product Manager for Visual Supply Co. We're stoked that you're interested in VSCO Keys and appreciate all your feedback. Regarding some of your concerns on pricing, VSCO Keys is actually a lot cheaper than our competitors (Motibodo, RPG Keys) and we are doing things that no other keyboard shortcut product is doing with VSCO Keys. 

The main points are: 

1.We’re not automating the mouse with macros, so you can access any tool from anywhere in lightroom and you’re not locked to a certain layout. You could even hide all the panels if you wanted and it would still work. 

2.We don’t require you to use an external keyboard. Just use whatever keyboard you already use, including the one in your laptop.

3.Everything is completely customizable and you can create and use as many layouts as you want

As far as other free software goes, most are just automating the mouse in some way and a lot of work is left up to you to make it all work. Also, these are all shareware programs built on other parts of software with no support. If something breaks in the future, you're out of luck. Automating the mouse works, but there's a lot of limitations to doing it this way. (Mainly, you can only access what's on the screen and it absolutely can't move from that one spot) As for Paddy, obviously it's only for windows since it's built on Autohotkeys, and if you have any issues with it, you're on your own. Also, you're locked into 3 levels of change (small, medium, large) 

VSCO Keys was built from the ground up for both Mac and windows and we have a full time staff for support to make sure everything is working right for you. This isn't a weekend project for us, this is what we do and we aim to make it amazing.

Honestly, VSCO Keys was born out of us trying to find something like this for our own use (many of us are photographers ourselves) and not being satisfied with anything that was out there. If you have more questions I'd be happy to answer them but I recommend you take advantage of our 14 day free trial and check it out for yourself. During this trial you can create as many custom key layouts as your heart desires. Should you wish you purchase, these customized layouts will always be available to you in our Online App and if you are not ready to commit they will remain there in your VSCO Account until you decide your ready to dive into VSCO Keys. 

We'd love to hear from you so hit us up at support@visualsupply.co

The potential for editing in full screen was enough for me to download the trial and check it out.    

On the whole, I rather like it, but there is one short coming that stops it from being a buy for me.  It doesn't support additional keyboards.  Or put another way, I use essentially my keys on keyboard for LR already - for the same reasons I'd like to use something like this, keys are fast.  As a result I'm having to bang the ESC key to jump back and forth and this is a bit of a pain in the ass since it requires me remembering if the "R" key is crop or increment temperature.  I'd much prefer R to always be crop and to move the slider functions to an extra external keyboard like the external bluetooth numpad I bought for the purpose a while back.  :-)

Another piece of feedback, is in order to get a visual clue as to which keyboard is active you can't be running LR in Full Screen - doing so hides the OS Status Bar.  Certainly support external keyboards would help that since the keys could be active all the time.   (It's not so much the screen real estate your giving up here, though there is that, so much as the visual distractions that come with that bar as well as the luminance change to the eyes when looking at it.

Lastly, for the website, you guys have great information and tutorials, once you log in.  Why the heck are you hiding that from people thinking about your product?  That's dumb - we most don't want to log in to learn about a new product, they rather simply surf it.   If it hadn't been for your post here adding information not available viewing your website, but certainly available once you log in, I would have passed over this product completely.


Michael, this is actually some really good feedback, thank you! One question on the external keyboard thing though: wouldn't you be moving your hands a lot farther than just the escape key with a second keyboard? To me that sounds actually slower to have to pick up your hands every time, no?

Really the ESC is more of a uncomfortable / unusual stretch with my pinky when it comes to keyboard layouts to my thinking.   Even so I have large hands and a small stock mac wireless keyboard - so it turns out I put the 3rd party Num Pad Keyboard next to it and end up with a full size wireless keyboard with Num Pad (and that is something that is familiar and I've used for decades).  So no not really much extra hand movement for me.   Even so, I think the slight extra movement is more than offset by not having to move my eyes up to the menu bar to visually check which keyboard (and take in the distractions up there which I have no intention of turning off since they are helpful when I'm not editing and easily hidden by using Full Screen Mode). Also if there is any extra time, for me I suspect it will get made up by not having to undo what I've just done because I tapped the R key thinking I was about to recrop and was in the wrong keyboard.  (Having lived through multiple versions of LR over the years, I'm fighting a lot of muscle memory here admittedly.).
That brings me to second thing I dislike about not running LR in Full Screen mode (e.g. to see the widget) - the Mac Launch Pad.  Turns out if I bump the mouse and the cursor moves over the lower screen, the Launch Pad floats on up and demands attention...

By the way, aside from the keyboard confusion listed above, I'm pleased to say this is working as advertised - and as a result reminding me how slow LR4 is at rendering changes in Development :0)

J.R. Clubb's picture

I'm digging the trial so far. 

AfterShot Pro has keyboard shortcuts built in.  granted the GUI isn't as nice, but still easy to work with.

Joakim Bidebo's picture

If your on Windows there is no reason at all to even think of getting this. Do yourself a favor get Paddy and donate couple of dollars. I'm using Paddy. It can do everything that VSCO can and more.

"Just because it's photo related lets charge ridiculous amount of money."

Hey guys, just wanted to give you a heads up: We just made some pretty big changes to VSCO Keys based on user feedback. Tons more Lightroom shortcuts added, smarter auto on/off functionality, and the price has been reduced to $79 ($59.25 if you've previously purchased VSCO Film)! We're really grateful for everyone's feedback and very stoked to make this an even better product accessible to even more people. More info here: http://visualsupply.co/blog/vsco-keys-1-1-update If you have any other questions, let us know at support@visualsupply.co