Last updated on May 9, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, travelling and making photos for 20 years. Read more Darktable - Photo Editing

In this post, you will find my top 10 darktable keyboard shortcuts that helped me to speed up my workflow (massively).

We are of course all different and obviously, the shortcuts are very related to our way to work on the photos.

In my case, these keyboard shortcuts help me to get things done in a much quicker way.

However, please leave a comment below with any shortcut that I missed out and you feel I should include in this list.

Without further ado let’s jump to the first one

More reading on Darktable

darktable keyboard shortcuts – in a nutshell

In the below video, you will see the top 10 darktable keyboard shortcuts in action, however, I had to keep it as short as I could and I had to omit a few points that I instead added in this post

And here below is the quick list, however, keep scrolling for a deeper explanation

  • Sticky preview with focus detection (lighttable) > CTRL+Alt+W
  • Toggle culling mode (lighttable) > X
  • Change number of images per row (lighttable) > CTRL+Mouse Scroll
  • Toggle side borders (lighttable & darkroom) > TAB
  • History Stack Copy&Paste (lighttable & darkroom) > CTRL+C & CTRL+V
  • Duplicate Image (lighttable & darkroom) > SHIFT+CTRL+D
  • Zoom to 100%, 200% and back (darkroom) > Middle Mouse Click
  • Set hardness & opacity on drawn masks > SHIFT+Mouse Scroll & CTRL + Mouse Scroll
  • Keep the shape > CTRL + Mouse Click
  • Keyboard shortcuts Help > H

Sticky preview with focus detection (lighttable) > CTRL+Alt+W

The sticky preview with focus detection is my favourite shortcut when I go through my photos and select the ones I should reject.

You have a full window preview with the focus points marked in red square.

It’s a small and valuable help to understand where the sharp area is. 

I must say that it works in most cases, however, it is not 100% accurate. Still a great help.

Another similar great darktable keyboard shortcut is “Ctrl+Shift+F” which toggle focus peaking on and off.

Toggle culling mode (lighttable) > X

The default file manager organises the images in a photo grid and the bottom panel dedicated to a timeline of all the photos.

I personally do not use the timeline that much.

That is why I find myself quite often switching to the culling mode with the bottom panel used as a film strip, very useful when I view one photo at a time in lighttable

Change number of images per row (lighttable) > CTRL+Mouse Scroll

Indeed, you can change the number of photos in the row also in that little meter below the photos area.

I just find it quicker to use the mouse to go back and forward

Toggle side borders (lighttable & darkroom) > TAB

Having 4 panels (left, right, bottom and top) is absolutely useful, however, it can be distracting too when you want to focus more on the photo.

Just click the TAB key to toggle to full preview, that easy.

In the darkroom view, you can also press the W key for a full preview

History Stack Copy&Paste (lighttable & darkroom) > CTRL+C & CTRL+V

Let’s assume you edited your photos and you enhanced to a level you really like it.

Now, you have a similar photo and you would like to apply the same editing.

Just CTRL+C on the source photos and CTRL+V on the destination photo.

The history stack of the source photo will be overwritten to the destination photo.

If you are used to Lightroom, this is a similar action to Sync, however much quicker.

There is only one drawback, you paste all the editing and you cannot select only a subset of the modules.

If you want to paste only part of the modules then use SHIFT+CTRL+V instead

Duplicate Image (lighttable & darkroom) > SHIFT+CTRL+D

Very quick and effective.

You create a second sidecar file (XMP file) where you store the editing for a second virtual photo.

The original RAW file (JPG or any other format) is still only one.

Zoom to 100%, 200% and back (darkroom) > Middle Mouse Click

Being my hand already over the mouse, I point it to the area I want to zoom and I click the middle mouse button/wheel to go 100% on it.

I click once again to zoom even more at 200%.

And then last click to go back to the original fitting size

Set hardness & opacity on drawn masks > SHIFT+Mouse Scroll & CTRL + Mouse Scroll

Another essential darktable keyboard shortcut when you use drawn masks.

On top of the photo, you can also see a small help and the opacity value as well.

Keep the shape in the drawn masks> CTRL + Mouse Click

If you keep using the same shape, the brush for example, to work on a photo then instead of selecting it every time you need it, just CTRL+Click on it to keep it for all the changes.

It will save you time and the annoyance to go back and forward through the module

Keyboard shortcuts Help > H

Lots of keyboard shortcuts, I know.

Luckily you can see all of them with a simple click of the H key.

Very handy.

Redefine the darktable keyboard shortcuts in the preferences

Do you find difficult to memorize these shortcuts?

Would you use other combinations instead?

No worries, you can redefine all the shortcuts in the preferences > shortcuts page

To open it, just click on that little gearwheel on the top right above the photo(s).

You can also add new shortcuts to apply for example a particular style or preset.

So flexible.


And now, let me know what is your favourite shortcut in the comment section below

Stefano Ferro - Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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