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The Ultimate Guide to Export in Lightroom

October 2, 2019

You’re done editing your photographs and they
look amazing. But, how do you get them outside of Lightroom? Lightroom doesn’t really have a “Save As…”
button. So, what do you do? Hi, This is Shajee Aijazi from
and in this video, we’re going to take a deep dive into the Export dialog. The Export dialog has a lot of different settings
and these settings become different if you’re exporting your images for the web and they
become different if you’re exporting them for print. So, it can get a little confusing if you’re
just starting out. In this video, we’re going to take a look
at each one of those settings as to what those settings are, and we’re also going to see
what the best practices are about each one of those settings. So, I can’t wait to begin, let’s get right
into it. Here we are inside of Lightroom and to export
your photos, what you would need to do first is to select all the photos you want to export. so, I have these photos filtered out that
are ready for export. I have retouched them, I have shortlisted
them, they’re ready to come outside of Lightroom. By pressing Ctrl+A on a PC, and Cmd+A on a
M ac, you can select all the photos that are displayed in the filmstrip at the bottom. And in the bar right above the filmstrip,
it’s showing me how many photos are selected that are going to get exported. then, with these selected, I can either click
on this Export button, or press it’s shortcut, which is Ctrl+Shift+E on a PC, and Cmd+Shift+E
on a Mac. Once you do that, it’ll open up the Export
dialog. And inside the Export dialog, we have a bunch
of settings we can adjust, so, let’s go over each one of them individually. Right at the top, we have Export Location
– This is where you choose where you want to save the photographs. First, we have a dropdown menu where we can
select if we want to export to a Specific Folder, the Same folder as original photo
or Choose folder later; and then we have some recently used folders listed down over here. This last option of Choose Folder Later, is
particularly helpful if you’re saving an export preset, because that way a specific location
won’t get saved with the preset; it’ll ask you every time as to what location the files
should go to. We’ll talk about export presets in just a
bit later in the video. Normally, I choose the Specific Folder option
from in here and then select the folder. You can click on this “Choose” button to select
a folder where you want to export your photographs. Right now, I’ll just choose to export them
on my Desktop. Then you can even decide to put your photos
into a Subfolder within that selected folder; so you’ll check this “Put in Subfolder” checkbox
on and type in a name. Let me call mine ‘Thailand’, because that’s
where these photographs are from. Then, you can choose if you want to add the
exported files back to the catalog. I, personally, don’t think there’s any need
for that. Because you already have all of those photos
as RAW files in your catalog. You’ve already worked on this and now you
just want to share them with the world. There’s no point in having another copy of
them in the catalog as JPEGs or whatever you’re exporting them as. Then there’s this Existing Files dropdown
where you can select what to do if there are files already with the same names in that
location you have specified; and I have it set to ‘Ask What to Do’. So then it’ll prompt me every time there’s
a file of the same name and I can then tell it what to do. Then, next we have the File Naming tab – If
you want to rename your photos as you export them, this is where to go. You can choose a filename template from this
drop down. You can even create your own too. But, I won’t be going into the detail of that
here, I talk about creating filename templates in another video. You can find the link of that in the description
of this one. I already have the files named according to
The History Book Technique, so I do not rename them when I am exporting. So, if you don’t want to rename them, you
can simply check this checkbox off. Then we have Video – if you imported video
to Lightroom, and you want to save it out again, you can adjust the compression settings
over here in this tab. Me, I, usually use Lightroom for photographs
only; but if you do use video too, then this is where you would choose the settings when
exporting it out. Then, next we have File Settings & this is
an important section. Over here, you would be choosing the file
format you want to export your photographs as. Whether you want to save a JPEG, PSD, TIFF,
DNG… or save it as the original RAW file, or whatever the format of the original was……
now, each of them have different settings related to them. So, let’s take a look at them one by one. First JPEG. This is usually the file format you would
choose for emailing photographs or uploading them online; and this is probably going to
be the most commonly used option for you. So, if I select JPEG, I have all of these
other settings to choose from. I have a dropdown for Color Space over here
where I can choose the color profile that I want for my exported photos. Now, I talk about different color profiles
in a lot of detail in another blog post and you can check that out, and I’ve included
the link in the description of this video. But just as a quick summary of that, if you’re
going to be displaying your photographs on screen or printing them from a non-pro lab,
you’re most likely going to select sRGB. If you’re exporting to print from a pro lab
that supports it then you can choose Adobe RGB. The ProPhoto RGB would not be a very good
option to choose at this point, unless you are going to work some more on the photos
in probably another software like Photoshop or something else. If you’re not going to be working on them,
if this is the final photograph, if this is the final version of your photograph, then
ProPhoto would not work too well. Because in software that are not color managed,
like your file browser or your internet browser, the colors of your photographs will look very
pale. Now, I go into the detail of this in my blog
post, so do check that out. Then, there’s also this new Display P3 space,
and that would be used if you want to display your photographs on the latest Apple devices
like the iPhone and the iPad. Then on the right, you can select the quality
you’ll be exporting with. You can move the slider to increase or decrease
the quality. If you’re exporting to put your photos online,
you can reduce the quality a little bit, somewhere around 60ish, to get smaller file sizes. But, if you’re going to print your photos,
higher quality, around 90-100 would be the way to go. Then below this is the option ‘Limit File
Size to’; and this would again come into play if you’re uploading your photographs online. Because you would want smaller file sizes
so that the images load quickly when they’re loading online. That’s why you would want a smaller file size
and you can specify the file size you want your photograph to be limited to. Then, next in the dropdown after JPEG is PSD. PSD is Photoshop’s native file format. When you select PSD, the Quality slider goes
away, but you have a dropdown now for Bit Depth. Bit depth refers to the color information
stored in an image. The higher the bit depth the more colors it
can store. But, higher bit depth would also mean bigger
file sizes. After PSD, we have TIFF in the dropdown. Now, this format is great for storing working
files, something that you may want to work on some more, maybe in Photoshop or any other
software and it’s also great for high-value edited photographs so that you preserve their
editing and their quality. TIFFs can also hold Photoshop layers and they
can also hold transparency. Now, when we select TIFF here, we have one
new dropdown for Compression and from this menu, you can decide if you want to apply
any compression to your photographs or not. Compression, basically, reduces the file size
a little bit and in some cases, it may detoriorate quality as well, but in other cases, it would
be a lossless compression, so you can choose if you want to do compression or not. Then next we have DNG. DNG stands for Digital Negative. It’s a format devised by Adobe to standardize
different RAW formats. This will save all your RAW data along with
any Lightroom adjustments and along with any metadata into the DNG file. So, any sliders you may have moved inside
of Lightroom, they all get saved at their positions inside of the DNG file. You would choose this if you want to send
files with the RAW settings saved in it, to another Lightroom or Photoshop user. So, when they open the file, they will have
access to all of the settings that you have altered. The options we have here are for Compatibility. If you’re sending it to someone who has an
older version of the Adobe Camera RAW plugin, you would select that version from this dropdown. Then it’ll ask you what size the JPEG preview
of the DNG file should be. There’s a preview embedded into the DNG file,
so it just needs to know if that should be medium sized or large… or, there shouldn’t
be at all. Embed Fast Load Data, this would allow programs
like Lightroom to show you the previews more quickly. Then Use Lossy Compression should preferably
be off, because it’ll reduce the file’s quality and potentially introduce artefacts or spots
or pixelation on the photograph. Embed Original RAW file, I would recommend
keeping this off, because if you do embed the original RAW into the DNG, it would actually
double the file size and then what exactly is the point of saving it as a DNG if the
RAW file is already going to be in there. You may just as well export it as the RAW,
if you’re switching this on. So, in my opinion, this should be off. Then coming back to the Image Format dropdown,
the last option there is ‘Original’. This will create a duplicate of the original
file, whether that was a RAW, DNG, JPEG or anything else. But it’ll do it with the updated metadata. Any edits you applied inside of Lightroom,
they do not get applied, but they would be visible in a software that can read the updated
metadata, like Lightroom or Photoshop. But they won’t be visible at other places. But, anyways, let me just go ahead and choose
JPEG from this, since that’s mostly what you would be working with. After File Settings, we have Image Size. This is another important setting to consider. Now, its a really detailed topic in and of
itself, so I have a separate blog post to explain it in really elaborate detail and
you should definitely check that out to get a better understanding. The link for the post is in the description. Over here, we’ll see the options Lightroom
gives us to resize our photos. If you leave this Resize to Fit checkbox off,
the photo will remain on it’s original resolution, unless you cropped something, it will stay
the same resolution, the same size your camera captured it. When you check that on then you have some
options in the Dropdown. Width & Height, Dimensions, Long Edge, Short
Edge, Megapixels, Percentage. So, the first option we have is Width & Height;
and in that you add both the width and the height in these text boxes. let’s say I add 800 in width and 1200 in height. But width and height would mean different
things for horizontal and vertical photos, right? In a horizontal photo, width is longer, in
a vertical photo, the height is longer. But, we can only add one width and one height. So, how will that play out? Let me explain this with the help of an illustration. So, here’s how it works, in this illustration,
the purple outline is the dimensions we have added in the text boxes. 800 is the width, 1200 is the height. If you look at the left side, it’s a vertical
photo, that will fit perfectly in our given dimensions, because our dimensions were vertical. The height was longer, the height was 1200. That fits perfectly. But, a horizontal photo, to fit it in these
dimensions, to fit it in these width and height, the width will stay 800, but the height will
be calculated according to the proportions of the photograph, so in this case, 534px. So, in that way, if you choose Width and Height,
that would mean that your vertical photos, in a similar example such as this, the vertical
photos would come out fine, but the horizontal photos would come out much smaller. So, whatever width and height you add, your
vertical and horizontal photographs will have different dimensions. Then next, if we select Dimensions from our
dropdown, this is bit smarter than Width and Height. It’s not sensitive to the width and height. It will fit your photo into the bounding box
even if it has to rotate the bounding box to do it. So, if you add 800 x 1200 as the dimensions,
it would be 800 x 1200 for vertical photos and 1200 x 800 for horizontal photos. It will automatically detect the longer and
shorter edges of the photograph and adjust the bounding box accordingly. Then, next in the dropdown, we have Long Edge. This will set the length of the longer side
of the photo. So, if I add 1200 px in that, the longer side
of the photo will be 1200 and the other side will be calculated automatically. So, in vertical photos, the longer side will
be height, and in horizontal photos, that will be the width. If you have different ratios happening in
different photos, the longer edge will always be 1200px but the shorter edge will vary depending
on the ratio of the photograph. Then, next we have Short edge which is very
similar to Long Edge, but you’re just defining the length of the shorter edge instead of
the longer one. So, for vertical photos, you’re defining width
and for horizontal, you’re defining height. Then, Megapixels will set the dimensions automatically
based on what you type in here. For example, if you set it to 24 Megapixel,
then on regular proportions, it will create a file which has the dimensions of 4000×6000. If the proportions or ratio is different,
then it’ll automatically calculate what the width and height should be, so that it results
in 24 million pixels in the photo. Last in this menu is Percentage, which is
pretty straightforward. If you add 75%, then the dimensions of the
photo will be 75% of the original photo imported into Lightroom. In this Image Sizing part of Export dialog,
there’s also this checkbox called “Don’t Enlarge”. This will prevent smaller photos from being
enlarged to the dimensions you’ve added. Enlarging the photos can result in pixelation
and it can result in softer or blurrier photos. It will still downsize the photos that are
larger than your given dimensions, but it won’t enlarge any smaller ones. Then, Resolution is something you’ll need
when you’re printing your photographs. If you’re exporting your photos to display
on a screen, then the resolution doesn’t matter, you can put any number in there and it wouldn’t
make a difference. But if you’re printing your photos, usually
the print lab would want it to be at least 300 pixels per inch. That’s usually the standard. But you should check with your print lab if
they have a different requirement. Now, I talk more about it in my blog post
about Image Size, so be sure to check that out. I’ve included the link in the description. Then, next in the Export Dialog, we have Output
Sharpening; where you can add a little bit of sharpening to your exported photos. From the first dropdown you select where your
photos are to be used. So, if they are going to be used only on screens,
I’ll choose the Screen option; and if they’re going to be printed, I’ll select either of
the two other options depending on what paper they’re going to be printed on. Then from the next dropdown, we select how
MUCH Sharpening we want. I’ve found that usually, Standard works the
best. The comes Metadata. if you want to remove or include any specific
metadata in your exported files, like camera info, f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, or location
info, you can add or remove it here from these options. The options in the dropdown are pretty self-explanatory. You can simply select the metadata you would
like to embed in your files; or select the options to remove certain metadata if you
don’t want to include it. Below the drop down are three checkboxes. Remove Person Info would remove any people’s
names that have been assigned in the People view in the Library module. These names are assigned as keywords to the
photo. And you may want to remove these names for
privacy reasons. Because you don’t know where the photo will
end up and if it isn’t removed, it can give away the names of the people inside the photograph. Remove Location Info would remove any GPS
coordinates that your camera may have captured or you may have added in the Map module. You may also want to check this on, if you
want the location to stay private. Then there’s Write Keywords as Lightroom Hierarchy,
if it’s checked then Lightroom will remember which keyword was the parent keyword and which
was the child keyword. You may have created this hierarchy when keywording
your photos inside of Lightroom and it would be helpful if you are going to re-import these
photos into Lightroom or using them in a software that does understand keywords. If this is checked off, it just saves both
parent and child keywords as separate keywords without the hierarchy. Then, next we have Watermarking. You can check this checkbox on and then choose
a Watermark that you may have already created from the dropdown. Or you can create a new one. Now, I have another video where I talk in
quite a bit of detail about how you can create a new watermark, so I won’t be going into
the details over here, you can check out that video. The link is in the description. Then, this last section of Post-Processing
deals with what happens to the photos after the Export process is done. By default, you have these few options. Do nothing. which will do nothing after the export is
complete. Then you can decide to see those photos in
their folder, in the Explorer on PC; or the Finder on Mac. Then, you can decide to open these exported
files in Photoshop; if you want to do any further retouching on them, or if you want
to further edit them, then this is the option you would choose. or finally, you can decide to open them in
any other application, and you will have to specify which application that is, over here. Now, unless I have to do something to my photos
in Photoshop after export, which is rarely the case, I keep this at Show in Explorer. That way, once its done exporting, I can see
those files in my folder. I mean, there’s no reason for it, but it just
keeps my mind at ease that these files are done and this is the folder they are in. So, that was an overview of the Export settings,
but there’s just one more thing I would like to talk about that can save you a whole bunch
of time, and the thing is, Export Presets. Once you’ve dialled in all of your settings,
you can save those as a Preset. So, for example, if I am exporting images
to be used on the web, I can save those settings as one preset. If I am printing on 5×7 or if I am printing
on any other size, that could be another preset. A few export presets are already there created
by Lightroom, you can see them here under Lightroom Presets, but it’s a good idea to
create your own, depending on how you use your exported images. But, whenever you’re creating an export preset,
just make sure of one thing. Whenever you’re saving a preset, then from
the Export Location tab, make sure you select Choose Folder Later. If you don’t, it’ll also save the location
with the preset and that way every time you export, all the photos will just get saved
in the one folder you had chosen. Now, creating a preset is fairly simple. Just dial in all your settings here in the
Export panel and then press this Add button. Automatically, it’ll get stored under this
User Presets folder, but I can right-click on one of these folder’s names and create
a new folder if I want. I have these two presets created here, Facebook
Upload and Full Size. So, how exactly do these save time? Let me close this export dialog and show you. If I right-click on any photograph, and choose
Export from the menu that shows, it is listing down all my Export presets in there. That way, I don’t have to go into the Export
dialog and dial in the settings every time. Once I click on this option, once I click
on my desired preset, it’ll just ask you the location where you want to save them, and
it already knows all of the other settings, the image size, image quality, image format
and all the other details, those are already dialled in. This way your photos get exported in just
a single-click. Alright, so that’s the Export panel, where
you can decide how your photos come outside of Lightroom. That’s the Export process. Now, once these photographs are out, you can
do whatever you like with them. You can upload them, email them, print them;
you can do anything with them. I hope you enjoyed the video and if you did,
hit the like button and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I have a lot more free stuff for you at
so head on over there and check it out right now and I’ll see you in another video very
very soon.

1 Comment

  • Reply Jasser Antig December 30, 2018 at 10:57 am

    okay wow! i love your video! so much

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