How to Change the Background Color of Single Images in Lightroom Classic

You can change the color of the space behind single images in Lightroom. That can be simply a matter of preference or used as a visualization tool

Last Updated:

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

When you’re viewing individual images in Lightroom’s Library, Develop, or Print modules, you have the option of changing the color behind the image. Although “color” is a little generous–they’re all neutral shades of gray, from white to black.

There’s no right answer on which to use. Much of the time it’s a matter of personal preference, although there can be times that changing the background color can be useful. For instance, when I’m doing white-background product shots, I like to change the background color in Lightroom to white so that any shadows or vignettes at the edges of the frame show up. It makes it easier to see any fixes that need addressing. Similarly, a white background might be useful for visualization if you’re prepping an image for printing that you know will be framed with a white mat, or if you want to make sure that blacks are true black. My general go-to is the “dark gray” setting, but that’s just a matter of preference.

Changing the background color is simple to do. Make sure you’re in the Library or Develop modules. If you’re in the Library module, make sure you’re in the single-image view–it doesn’t work with the thumbnail grid view.

Then right click in the area immediately surrounding the image. How large that area is will depend on how much you’re viewed in as well as the aspect ratios of the image relative to the view window.

Background Colors

A small pop-up window will appear:

Lightroom Image Background Color Menu

Here’s a close-up of the menu with the available options: white, light gray, medium gray, dark gray, darker gray, and black.

The options are pretty straightforward, but here are some simple examples of the various options.


Lightroom Image Background Color White

Light Gray

Lightroom Image Background Color Light Gray

Medium Gray

Lightroom Image Background Color Medium Gray

Dark Gray

Lightroom Image Background Color Dark Gray

Darker Gray

Lightroom Image Background Color Darker Gray


Lightroom Image Background Color Black

Things Worth Knowing

This setting is applying to the program’s interface itself rather than individual images. So you can’t assign a separate color for each individual image.

It only works in the single-image view, and only in the Library, Develop, and Print modules. When using it in the Print module, you get a drop-shadow around the edges of the virtual paper.

The only options are shades of gray. There’s no color picker to choose, say, red or blue. Which makes sense for an image editing app’s interface.

Adobe Creative Cloud Go All In Save 40%

Dive Deeper on Lightroom Classic

  • Want to get the most out of Lightroom's features? I've put together a guide to some of the best Lightroom online courses and tutorials.
  • Looking for a Lightroom alternative? Whether you're done with subscription software and looking for a one-time license or even a free Lightroom alternative, or perhaps you're after a feature Lightroom doesn't have, check out some of the great options available in my roundup, from full-featured asset management and image editing in a single app, to specialized RAW processing, to image tools. And some of them can be used to as tools to expand Lightroom's features.

Popular Books on Lightroom Classic

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. I've been using Lightroom for years, from back before it was Lightroom (RawShooter). More »