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LR Export Made Easy: The Ins of Getting Out of Lightroom


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LR-exporting-600x6661 LR Export Made Easy: The Ins of Getting Out of Lightroom Lightroom Tutorials How do you save edited photos in Lightroom?

This question bothers many first time Lightroom users.  Especially when they hear that the answer is that you don’t save your edits when you use Lightroom!

Lightroom is a database that permanently stores each edit you make to a photo the moment you make it.

It doesn’t however, apply these edits to your photo.  For instance, say that I convert this photo to black and white inside of Lightroom.  It looks edited when I view it in Lightroom, but when I look at in on my hard drive, I see the SOOC version of the image.

  catalog-edits-lightroom1 LR Export Made Easy: The Ins of Getting Out of Lightroom Lightroom Tutorials

This isn’t a problem in most cases.  In fact, it’s one of the reasons why Lightroom is the ultimate non-destructive photo editor – you never change that original image.  And, you don’t need to take up hard drive space with an edited version of your photo for many things that Lightroom can take care of for you, like:

  • Emailing a photo
  • Posting it to Facebook
  • Printing it to your home printer

However, there are some things that can’t be done from within Lightroom:

  • Sending a file to a print lab
  • Uploading photos to your blog
  • Sharing photos in a forum or specific Facebook page (like MCP’s Facebook Group!)
  • Any many other things

The only time you need to combine your edits with the image in a new file is when you need to do something that can’t been done from within Lightroom.  Exporting is not a way to save files, or to make sure you never lose your edits.  Exporting simply creates a new file that you can use outside of Lightroom.

So how do you export photos?  Select the photo or photos that you want to export, right click, and select Export twice.  Or, use the shortcut control+shift+e (command+shift+e on a Mac).

lightroom-export1 LR Export Made Easy: The Ins of Getting Out of Lightroom Lightroom Tutorials

You will then see this dialog box, where you control exactly how your photos to export:

lightroom-export-settings1 LR Export Made Easy: The Ins of Getting Out of Lightroom Lightroom Tutorials


  1. Choose between Hard Drive, Email and DVD.  Each option here changes the options below slightly.
  2. When exporting to your Hard Drive, choose where these new files will live.  The settings in this screen shot are the settings that I use to export to my blog.  From the Export To field, you can also select Same Folder as Original, which is what I use when exporting to send to a print lab.
  3. Choose the name of the new file or files.  “Custom Name – Sequence” prompts you to specify the file name and then numbers multiple files sequentially.
  4. Choose your File Format, Color Space, and Quality.  These rarely change for me.
  5. Specify the image size.  The settings in the screen shot above produce an image that is no more than 600 pixels on the longest side.  I turn this off to create a full size export for sending to a print lab.
  6. Output Sharpening – this sharpening doesn’t replace Develop Module sharpening.  It applies a different type of sharpening customized to your method of image output.  Note that you have to specify whether the image will be output onto screen, glossy paper or matte paper.
  7. Remove metadata for privacy concerns, if desired.  This might be especially useful if your camera embeds GPS info in your photos.
  8. Add a watermark to your image.

Section 9 in the screenshot above displays memorized presets that speed up exports.  I have set up my 3 most commonly used export settings here.  The first is configured just like you see in the screenshot above, for posting to my blog.  The second goes to my desktop  – I use this one for quick exports that I will delete from my computer very quickly.  And the last for is full size print quality photos to my external hard drive.

To set up your own Lightroom presets, first enter all the settings you want Lightroom to memorize.  For my blog photos, for instance, I direct the presets to my Blog parent folder, and use the “Put in Subfolder” option to specify a current month or topic.  Choose the size, sharpening and other settings you would like to be memorized, then click on the Add button at number 10 in the screen shot above.  Type the name of your preset and hit create.  Now you can recall these settings by clicking on the name of your preset.

When exporting from Lightroom, the most important thing to remember is that Exporting is not a substitute for saving, and that you don’t need to export every file.  Once that idea “clicks” for you, the rest is easy!




No Comments

  1. Wendy Mayo on November 3, 2009 at 11:37 am

    This is exactly how I use Lightroom. I know there is so many more features to it, but I mostly just use it as a catalog and to adjust white balance and exposure before running everything through Photoshop.

  2. Terry Lee on November 3, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I don’t have Lightroom yet, but am considering upgrading my Photoshop CS2 and purchasing thecombination of the two with CS4. Presently, I am working with the minimum equipment until my website and business grows…humble beginnings…so, I use my iPhoto program on a hard-drive connected to mylaptop to sort and store original files and it is working for now, but not very time efficient. Does anyone have advice for me as to where to go from here? Convince me why I should use Lightroom in my workflow. I am taking Jodi’s speed editing workshop this month, so I can take another step forward now that I have a basic understanding of Photoshop and using actions, etc…Also, I am wondering what monitor to purchase. I am shopping for a new computer and/or monitor.What is the best one for photographers. Please help me, fellow bloggers and MCP fans…I would appreciate any advice you would share. Thanks so much….in labor and about to give birth to my website…xo

  3. MCP Actions on November 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I love my monitor – I have an NEC2690 – it is amazing!

  4. MCP Actions on November 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    And while I do not utilize LR to its fullest since I am a PS junkie, I still find it a very valuable tool in my workflow.

  5. Terry Lee on November 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks, Jodi…I am going to look at that monitor for sure and consider Lightroom for exactly that, workflow efficiency… yes, you are a PS junkie…lucky for us! 🙂

  6. Whitney on November 4, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Hi Jodi, when you say you then ‘save’ in Lightroom, do you mean you export? That is still confusing for me in switching between Lightroom and Photoshop. Thanks so much!

  7. Luis Barcelí_ on November 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Well I use lightroom as much as i can, is my principal editing tool, beleave me lightroom is very powerfull you can do very nice retouch with the brushes and save a lot of time, and take to photoshop only a selected number of photos just the ones that realy need it, or the ones for the magazine cover.Jody:You make beautifull actions for photoshop, i can΂t wait to see your presets for lightroom!!

  8. Mara on November 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks Jodi- so helpful! I have both Lightroom and Photoshop and one thing I have been trying to work out is the best approach to taking photos into Photoshop from Lightroom and managing the extra file that it creates when you are done editing in Photoshop (the PSD or TIFF). Do you keep in the collection both files? Or do you tag them differently? Or create a new collection? Any tips or future blog posts on this topic would be awesome 🙂 Thanks again for all your tips!

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