Apr 122012

Starting with Lightroom 4, you can email photos directly from Lightroom rather than having to export jpegs to your hard drive, and then outside of Lightroom, attach them to your email.  It has some limitations that I’ll discuss, but I find that it often saves me a lot of time.  Instructions in this article apply to Lightroom 5, CC and 6 as well as 4.

Select one or more photos that you want to email, from the filmstrip in any module in Lightroom or from the grid in the Library module, then right-click inside one of the selected photos and choose Email Photos. Lightroom can use the email program (“client”) on your computer, such as Outlook or Mac Mail, or any web email service, such as Gmail or AOL.  You will choose one or the other in the From: dropdown in the Email dialog that opens.

Emailing Using An Email Program/Client on Your Computer

Your email program (if you have one) should be one of the choices in the From: dropdown in the Email dialog (I have Outlook). Once you choose this, your dialog should look like mine here:

Figure 1: Email from an Email Client, such as Outlook or Mac Mail

You can type in one or more addresses in the To: field, add cc’s and bcc’s by clicking on the buttons in the top right to reveal those boxes, and you can click on Address to add addresses to Lightroom’s address book.  Next, you would type in a Subject, and choose one of the photo size Presets from the dropdown in the bottom left.

With an email program/client, after hitting Send, your email does not yet get sent —  Lightroom simply opens up a new Outlook/Mac Mail/etc email, with the To and Subject information populated, and the photos attached.  At this point you could type in a full message, and then send the email.

Their are two major limitations to this  functionality, when using an Email program/client:

1. In Lightroom 4, your sent email does not show up in your Outlook or other Sent Mail folder.  (This was fixed in Lightroom 5.) If you are still using Lightroom 4 and if having documentation of the email is important to you, be sure to copy yourself on the email.

2. You do not have access to your Outlook or other  address book. This can be worked around as well — simply leave the To: field in Lightroom’s email dialog blank. Once you hit Send and Outlook or other program opens up a new email, you can access your address book to fill out the To: field there.

Setting Up a Web Email Service

If you don’t have an email program/client, or prefer to send your email through a web service, once you select your photos, right-click inside one of them and choose Email Photos, in the From: dropdown (Figure 1 above), choose Go to Email Account Manager.

Click on Add in the bottom left, and in the New Account dialog box that appears, type in an Account Name (just for your reference inside of Lightroom), and choose your service provide from the drop down. Hit OK in the small New Account dialog box.


Figure 2: Setting Up a Web Email Service in Lightroom 4

If you have one of the four web services listed (AOL, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo Mail), Lightroom will (thankfully!) fill in the Outgoing Server Settings. If you have a different service, you will need to contact them to find out how to fill out these settings.

Next, fill out your email login information in the Credential Setting sections, and then click on Validate. Lightroom will log in to verify that the settings are correct. Assuming they are, and your account shows as validated in the left column, click Done.

Figure 3: Web Service Login Information

Now that your account is set up, it will always appear in the From: dropdown.  With a web service, as discussed above with an email client, you can type in the To:, Subject, Cc‘s and Bcc‘s if you need them, build a Lightroom Address book, and choose the photo size by clicking on the Preset dropdown:

Lightroom 4 web mail email dialog

Figure 4: Web-Mail Email Dialog

Notice that with a web service, you type  your complete message here in the Lightroom email dialog, and you have formatting options such as font and size, available.  You also have the option to include caption metadata — if you have entered a caption for your photo in the Metadata panel in the Library module (bottom right), in your email it will appear below each photo.

Unlike with an email client, with a web service when you hit Send, your email is truly sent.  Also unlike with an email client, your sent message should in fact appear in your Sent Mail folder.

There are two major limitations to sending email directly from Lightroom with a web service:

1. You do not have access to your email service address book. The only way around it is to open up a new web service email in your internet browser, add the addresses in the To: field using its address book, and then copy and paste the addresses over into the Lightroom email. (Thanks to JB for this suggestion).

2. Your photos are embedded in the emails you send rather than included as attachments.  This makes it much more difficult for recipients to save the photos, rather than just view them from within the email.

If and when these limitations matter to you, then continue to do as you did in Lightroom 3 — export jpegs, and attach them to your emails outside of Lightroom.

More Control Over Settings

For more control over file renaming, photo size, metadata, watermarking, etc., instead of right-clicking and choosing Email Photo, go directly to Lightroom’s Export dialog (right-click and choose Export > Export …, or click on the Export button in the Library module.  Lightroom 4 has a new option in the top-center dropdown — Email:


You can then set most of the typical export settings as you choose. (Note that you can only directly email jpegs.)  After setting the settings, you can save as a new preset so that it will appear in the email Preset dropdown from now on. (More on creating Export presets in an upcoming post).  To send the photos, click on the Export button, and the Email dialog will appear.


  42 Responses to “How to Email Photos Directly from Lightroom”

  1. Handy tip. Thanks

  2. You said “There are two major limitations to sending email directly from Lightroom with a web service:

    1. You do not have access to your email service address book. There is no way around this with a web service.”

    Couldn’t you just open your webservice email, begin to address a new email, and then copy and paste the addresses to the email in Lightroom?

  3. i have been trying for days to send an attached file from my email in lightroom4 but it wont let me send but 1 picture at a time. How can i attach 3 or more pictures to send at one time. Can you make it real easy steps? thank You

    • Hi Lizzy, assuming you are selecting all three files first (click on the first, ctl/cmd click on each additional), I am not sure what the issue is. I would suggest posting on lightroomforums.net – the moderators have seen just about everything.

  4. Is there a reason that Groups do not work? I added several addresses to a new group, but then I cannot select the group to e-mail out to. It only recognizes the individual e-mail addresses, which defeats the purpose of having a Group.

    • Hi Patrick, I can’t replicate this, so I can’t say what the issue is. I would suggest posting at lightroomforums.net.

  5. Hi Laura.

    Regarding Lightroom-generated Outlook emails not showing up in Outlook’s Sent Items folder, this has to be a LR bug because when other programs mail mailto calls to Outlook, a copy is indeed saved.

    The best workaround is to select the Options tab in the Outlook message (before sending it), and choose “Use Default Folder” in the “Save Sent Item” drop down. But you have to remember to do this every time, and you have to do it before hitting Send or it will be too late.

    I filed an Adobe bug report here: http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/email_sending_bug_lightroom_outlook

    Any thoughts? Can you chime in on the bug report too? I’d really like to see this get fixed in LR 4.3. It’s probably a simple parameter tweak in the mailto call.


  6. Regarding outlook 2007 email and light room defaulting to do not save . I need a copy in my sent email folder.I click the send button instead of filling out the email information in light room. I get a new email in outlook with the photos attached and then I go to options > saved sent item> uncheck ”do not save’, check ”save in default folder”. I do not understand why the Light room macro changes this setting but I cant find a macro that would make all new email messages created in Lightroom default to save in default folder. Windows explorer ”send to email” and manually creating a new email defaults to “save in default folder”. I email lots of photos and saving a few extra clicks each time would be nice.

  7. Laura, thank you for your clear instructions.

    With a little research, I found out that the address book is an editable file located at (on Windows 7):
    C:\Users\[User_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Email Address Book\AddressBook.lua

    First, I added a few emails and groups manually to see how the file is formatted.

    Then I exported my addresses from Gmail, edited them to fit the format, copied to the above location, and all my addresses are now in Lightroom.

    It is easier if you can work with a more capable editor like Vim, or even easier if you can write a few lines of code using Perl or Python.

  8. Hi Laura,

    There is a slightly better way than the one you described. Don’t bother to add a lot of addresses to the Lightroom Address Book, add your own address only. Select the photos and then click on e-mail photos, as you describe. In the dialog box, select your own name and then click send (forget about the subject, the cc’s, and the bcc’s). When the message opens in Outlook, delete your address and add the recipient address(es), the cc’s, and the bcc’s from the Outlook Address Book. Add the subject and additional message, if needed. Done.

    As easy as this is, it is still a mystery why Adobe didn’t go one step further by providing a simpler dialog box with a photo preview and drop down list for image quality only. Clicking send would then open a new Outlook message directly without further ado. This is the way iView Media Pro worked years ago.


  9. Perfect timing to read this. Thank you thank you.
    By the way. I sent one email to a friend and to me (just to see how it would work) by typing in the addresses. Then I sent another one to someone else and it picked it up out of my yahoo address book as soon as I started typing.
    Now if I could only get the conversation between LR and FB working!

  10. Your work around for the address book, does not work for me. If I leave the address portion blank, the send button is greyed out and I cannot send

    • In that case, Dennis, I’d suggest putting your own email address in. When you hit Send and it opens in Outlook, you can change it.

  11. I have been emailing several pictures to different people today, but then I got an error that said the email didn’t send: that froze LR, and I had to close it before all the emails were sent. Now, I don’t know how to tell which emails were sent and which ones weren’t. Is there a way to see the history?

  12. Hi, again, Laura,

    Gradually getting a better handle on Lightroom, I am now adding captions and locations to most of my photos. Email Photo is working great per your reply to my earlier message but the checkbox for “Include caption metadata…” is grayed out. I see nothing in Preferences of Catalog Settings to make this checkbox active. Is it a future feature?

    • Hi Jim, the “Include caption metadata as a description label” option only works when you are embedding photos into an email, not including them as an attachment — which means when you are using a web email service rather than a client such as Outlook.

      • Thanks Laura. Apple Mail embeds the images without attachments (I think) but that doesn’t cut either. Oh well. BTW, I downloaded your videos on Saturday and am looking forward to diving in.

  13. Can you email the pictures with the image # on the picture or below like the metadata is shown?

    • Hi Kacy, you’d have to put the image # into the caption field, and use a web email service (which allows you to include the caption field below your photo).

  14. Hi Laura,

    When I try to email more that one photo, the photos don’t line up in a nice vertical column like I am used to in the Apple’s Aperture program. They are all over the message page in random order.

    Do you have any sort of idea or fix for this?



    • I don’t, Mark – I am not familiar with this. I would suggest posting on lightroomforums.net.

  15. Hi Laura, when I say “include caption metadata …” it doesn’t. I am sending through gmail. I would like to be able to add a caption to each photo when I send multiple photos at a time, something like the Picasa web albums let you do, but I don’t seem to have any access to adding a caption or editing one.


    • Hi Carol, you have to type the caption into the Caption field in the Metadata panel in the Library module first. The Metadata panel is on the right side, at the bottom.

      • Thank you, Laura. How can I make the caption automatically be the filename?

        And can I batch change captions to be the filename of EACH photo in the batch?

        • You can’t, Carol – it pulls from the caption field only. And you can batch change captions — to be some common text, but not to be individual file names. I would suggest you email your photos as attachments instead, so that people can see the filenames. This will happen if you email from LR using Outlook or another local client email program, or if you do an export of JPEGS, then attach them to an email outside of LR.

  16. Any guidance on setting up OS X Mail in Lightroom to email photos?

  17. Hi. When I send my email I can view it in my Hotmail sent folder and can see all of the photographs perfectly. My recipients can’t. They receive an email with missing photograph files attached. When you click the file it says ‘Chrome can’t find jpeg xxxxxx’

    Any suggestions?

  18. The way Lightroom’s designers have configured (or misconfigured) the task of sending images as attachments to emails suggests that this particular portion of Lightroom was designed by cretins. There is no excuse for this complexity. In Aperture (which has its own problems) this function is flawless and immediate.

  19. Laura,
    Sorry to open this old chestnut, but I’m seeing a real discrepancy with email and LR5. Using the above procedure, pictures are embedded and displayed in the email body, not attached as separate jpeg files. Everything I’ve read indicates that files should be sent as attachments (which I want). Not so for me.

    Set up for both Outlook 2013 and Thunderbird in Win 8.1. Both exhibit the same behavior. Hope this is “cockpit error”, but driving me crazy.

  20. I’m having problems with emailing from LR5. I use Gmail, but through an offline reader, Thunderbird.
    Thunderbird is not listed in the From drop-down menu.
    And my email addresses are in my Thunderbird addressbook.
    Does this mean I’ll have to copy and paste the email addresses each time I email a photo?

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Lack of access to address books are a downside of emailing directly from Lightroom. It’s been a while since I have used it, but I believe you can just not fill in the email address, hit send, and then when your Thunderbird email comes up, access your address book from there.

  21. Trying to email from light room and continually getting an erorr tell it cant connect to server and to check my email and password. I have and know they are correct

  22. Hi Laura.

    I have folowed your istruction and lightroom has filed in the different fields in regards to Gmail, and i have filled in my personal information such as name and pass word.

    And then when i puch the validate button it tells me that it cant do it???

    I have tryed with no succes to contact Gmail for more information.

    What am i supose to do??

    I been siting here now for days trying different ways.

    Please help!!

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