How to Change a Stack’s Cover Thumbnail in Lightroom

Here’s how to change the image that’s used as the cover image for an image stack.

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By default, when you select multiple images to stack, it makes the “active” one the cover thumbnail. That’s the thumbnail that displays on top of the stack when the stack is collapsed. That’s typically the first thumbnail you click on (although that’s not always the case).

You can tell visually which is the active thumbnail with the subtle difference in the background color–it’s a slightly lighter gray. Here’s an example:

Lightroom Change Stack Cover Thumbnail 6

But what if you want a different thumbnail to represent the stack? Maybe you want a more representative image so you can more easily see what that stack of images is without expanding the stack.

Lightroom has an easy way to swap the stack cover thumbnails.

First, stack the images as you normally would (Right Click > Stacking > Group into Stack / Photo > Stacking > Group into Stack / CMD-G (Mac) or CTR-G (Windows)).

Then expand the stack by clicking on the stacking thumbnail icon that shows the number of images in the stack.

Lightroom Change Stack Cover Thumbnail 5

If the stack icon isn’t showing up on the thumbnails, make sure the option View > View Options > Show Grid Extras > Thumbnail Badges is checked. I have a more detailed guide here.

Next, roll the cursor over the thumbnail you want as the new stack cover. You’ll see a stack icon appear over it.

Lightroom Change Stack Cover Thumbnail 4

Click on that thumbnails stack icon. That will move that thumbnail to the top of the stack and move it to the beginning of the sequence.

Lightroom Change Stack Cover Thumbnail 3

And if you now collapse the sequence, you’ll see that it has a new cover image.

Lightroom Change Stack Cover Thumbnail 2

One thing to watch with reordering stacks is that if you’re exporting images and renaming based on sequence numbers, it can throw off the sequence. I run into this particularly with exporting stacked images for timelapses.
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David Coleman / Photographer
by 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 »

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