The Aperture Light Table is much easier to work with if you learn to drive it using its mouse and keyboard shortcuts. (Note: Wondering if the Light Table is even worth investing time in? Take a look at my previous post titled, Learning to Respect the Light Table.) The Light Table is most useful when you can quickly navigate it, and fortunately, there are many shortcuts built-in. Here are some crucial ones:
* Panning and Zooming. If you hold down the space bar, you can pan about the Light Table by clicking and dragging. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, or a Trackpad with two-fingered scrolling, then scrolling while holding down the space bar will zoom in and out. So, by simply holding down the space bar you can both pan and zoom.
* Image context menu. If you right-click (or control-click if you don’t have a two-button mouse) on any image on the Light Table, you’ll get a popup menu that includes Align, Distribute, and Arrange commands that aren’t available anywhere else. These offer the same type of features that you’ll find in a drawing program, and make it easy to get your images positioned. (Note that the Align tool aligns against the last image that you select.)
* Light Table context menu. The Light Table itself has a context menu that provides a few simple options, the most important being Minimize Size. As you’ve probably already discovered, it’s very easy to accidentally increase the size of the light table through a few errant drags. Choosing Minimize Size will reduce the size of the Light Table so that it encloses only the images that you’ve placed.
* If you like your Light Tables to look like Light Tables - that is, to have a white background - you can change the background color the Light Table by adjusting the Viewer Background Brightness slider in the Aperture Preferences dialog box. Note, however, that with a neutral gray background you’ll have a far more accurate perception of color.
Finally, don’t forget to use the zoom feature. Often, if you want to see an image on the Light Table at a larger size, the impulse is to grab the image and make it larger. While this will certainly work, rendering a larger image is more processor-intensive for Aperture. It’s much better to take advantage of the zoom feature and zoom in when you want to see a larger view of an image.