Mar 232017

Lightroom what is ExportIn the first article of this series on exporting from Lightroom, I discussed what exporting is, and when you should and shouldn’t export. In short, you’ll click on the Export button to export a copy of your selected photo(s) pretty much any time you want to share them with the outside world.

Now I’ll start discussing the settings in the Export dialog – in this second article I’ll start with Export Location options.

At the top of the Export dialog towards the center you’ll see a dropdown to choose whether to export to a hard drive, CD/DVD, or email:

Lightroom Export Hard Drive / CD/DVD / Email

Select the CD/DVD option from the dropdown to burn directly to disc.  The Export Location section that I discuss in the rest of this article then disappears since you won’t need to specify a location on your hard drive for the files. Note that if your files take up more space than is available on your disc then Lightroom will prompt you to put in one or more subsequent ones.

Exporting directly to email is covered in a separate blog post.

The rest of this article will cover exporting to your hard drive  – choose Hard Drive from the dropdown.

Choose a Location on Your Hard Drive

In the Export Location section you’ll specify where on your hard drive you want to save the exported copies and whether you want these copies to also be available in Lightroom along with the originals.

Export To:

To specify where on your hard drive the exported copies will be saved, click on the dropdown to the right of Export to: (#1 in the screenshot below.)

Lightroom Export Location Settings

To choose a location other than one of those shown in the list, select Specific folder.

lightroom export to choices

Next click on the Choose button to the right (#2 above), navigate to your desired folder, select it and hit Choose or OK in the bottom right of the dialog. This location will now display below the Export to: Specific Location line (#3).
You can have Lightroom put the files in a subfolder of your chosen folder by checking the Put in Subfolder box (#4) and then typing in a name for that folder.  For example, in the screenshot above my photos will go within an “email” folder within “Temp Stuff” within “Documents”. If the subfolder doesn’t yet exist, Lightroom will create it.  With this Put in Subfolder option I can easily change the subfolder from one export to the next without having to click on Choose and navigating to it (though that is also an option.)

Choose Folder Later: eventually in this series I’ll talk about how you can save your various Export settings as presets so that you don’t have to enter them all over again each time. If you want the flexibility in your preset to vary the export location each time you use it, select Choose folder later in the Export to:  dropdown, and when you hit Export at the bottom of the dialog Lightroom will prompt you to specify that location.

The “Add to this Catalog” Option

As you may recall from my last article, I mentioned that I delete most of the copies that I export after I email them or otherwise send them out, since I can always export new copies if I need them again. Nevertheless I mentioned that there may be some situations where you’ll want to keep yours – for example, if you are a pro and you want exact documentation of what you sent out to a client.  If you do keep them, you’ll want to also make a decision about whether these copies should be in Lightroom or not. An argument against it would be that you risk cluttering up Lightroom with these copies and you risk accidentally working on a copy instead of on your master photo.  On the other hand, having them in Lightroom makes it very easy for you to access them when needed. (If you don’t have them in Lightroom you’ll access them with Mac Finder or Windows Explorer/My Computer.)  To add them to Lightroom, check the Add to this Catalog option (#5).

Stacking the Exported Copies with the Originals

If you check the box to Add to this Catalog (#5), and if in the Export to dropdown (#1) you choose to put them in the same folder as the originals, and if you don’t choose Put in Subfolder (#4), then you have the option to stack the exports with the originals (#6). This links the copies and originals together in what visually looks like a stack of photos. (Photos can’t be stacked together if they reside in different folders – hence the requirement that the exports be in the same folder as the originals. For more about stacks, read this article.)  I think stacking them can be really handy, since it’s a way to hide the exported copies underneath the masters when you’re not using them. Generally I therefore recommend choosing the option to put the exported copies below the originals – this way your master photo is on top of the stack and it’s less likely that you’ll accidentally work on the copy.

Existing Files: Ask What to Do

Lightroom needs to know what to do if it finds that you are exporting files to a folder that already contains files of the same names.

Ask what to do: if it finds duplicates it will prompt you to make a decision about whether to Overwrite the ones that are already there, use Unique Names, Skip or Cancel. Unique Names will add “-2” or a later sequence number to the end of the file to create a unique filename. Skip will skip exporting any that already exist, and Cancel will cancel the export entirely.

Choose a new name for the exported file: without prompting you, Lightroom will add “-2” or a later sequence number to the end of the file to create a unique name.

Overwrite WITHOUT WARNING: the old file will be wiped out and replaced by the new one – without warning.

Skip: without prompting you, export of the new file will be skipped, leaving the old one as is.

Up Next

In the next article in this series I’ll skip down to the Image Settings section to discuss Image Format (JPEG, TIFF, PSD, DNG), Color Space, Quality and Limit File Size to.


Mar 032017

Lightroom what is ExportThis is my first article in what will be a several part series on Lightroom’s Export function. This article will focus on what exporting is for and when you should export. Future ones will go into the settings.

Background: Lightroom’s Non-Destructive Approach to Image Editing

Lightroom works non-destructively – meaning that it never touches your original raw or JPEG files. Instead, your editing work is saved separately behind the scenes as a set of instructions.  In Lightroom you’re essentially seeing the instructions hovering over your original photos, but the instructions are not baked in to your originals. This is great, as it means that you can undo all or part of your work at any time – you can’t ruin your photo as you work on it!


What Exporting Is For

Because of this non-destructive approach, if you go outside of Lightroom to Mac Finder or Windows Explorer/My Computer and preview files that you have edited, you’ll see that your editing work isn’t there – so you can’t share your edited photos with people by sending them these files. Of course sending people the originals plus sets of Lightroom instructions also isn’t an option. Instead, when you want to share your photos you’ll create copies of them with the editing work applied. These copies are made through the Export dialog.

Should I Export to Save My Work?

Many users believe they need to export copies of all their edited photos in order to save their work – this is not the case, and will simply clutter up your hard drive with unnecessary copies. Your work is being saved automatically in Lightroom’s catalog. (Read more about this in, “How Do I Save My Lightroom Work?“)  Instead, exporting copies is only necessary when you want to share your photos with the outside world.

Should I Keep All My Exported Copies?

I almost always delete the exported copies once I send them out since I can always export new copies if I need them again.  Each export shows up as an entry in the History panel in the Develop module, so if I have done additional editing since I exported, I can always get back to how it looked when I last exported, if I need to.  Some pros, however, do retain the copies that they send to clients so that they have readily-accessible  documentation of exactly what was sent out. (Note that while Lightroom will record editing settings when you perform an export, it will not record export settings such as size, so if you need to keep track of these you’ll need to keep your files.)

Whether or Note You’ll Need to Use Lightroom’s Export Dialog

Generally speaking, you’ll export copies by clicking on the Export button in the bottom right in the Library Module, or by going to File>Export…, and then working through the settings.

Lightroom Export

However, there are other ways to share photos, depending on the circumstance. In these Lightroom does the under-the-cover exporting:

  • You can email photos directly from Lightroom. This will save you from the time of exporting JPEGs and attaching them to emails.
  • You can upload photos directly to Facebook, Flickr and some other online services using Publish Services, in the bottom left in the Library module.
  • Creative Cloud subscribers can “sync” collections of photos to the cloud, at which time they are available on mobile devices and on Lightroom web. You can send clients and friends links to these collections on the web and people can like and comment on them.
  • You can create slideshows, web galleries, prints and electronic print layouts, and photo books using Lightroom’s output modules, and then export / upload / print  from there.

These are outside the scope of my current Export series, but I thought I’d mention them.

Related Post: Exporting Lightroom: Location Settings

Sep 082014

Lightroom pixel detail As I monitor forums and the Lightroom Help Group on Facebook, I see so much confusion about resolution and how to set it in Lightroom, that I thought it was time for a post on it.

Our photos are made up of pixels – squares of solid color that our camera sensor captures. For example, a photo from a 24 megapixel (MP) camera has 24 million pixels — 6,000 wide x 4,000 high:


Lightroom photo size pixels

When we export, we specify how large our copies should be made – reduced for online sharing, possibly increased for large prints, or left at the same size as our master photos. Lightroom is very intelligent in how it removes or adds pixels, to preserve the appearance of our photos. (On enlarging, this does have its limits – read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Printing

When we export to send something out to print, we are accustomed to specifying size in inches or centimeters rather than in pixels. Lightroom allows us to specify size this way, but for it to figure out how many pixels to output, we have to tell it how many pixels per inch (PPI) to include – this is called resolution.

Inches x Pixels per Inch = Pixels

Equivalently, Inches x Resolution (PPI) = Pixels

In this scenario, in the Resolution box in the Export dialog, we specify for resolution whatever resolution / PPI our printer (or printing service) prints at. Most printers print at 300; Epson printers print at 360 – but check your printer manual or your printing service’s website. This gives your printer the exact number of pixels it needs to print at its best:

Lightroom export resize for print

Lightroom will calculate and output size in pixels: 8”x 10” print at 300 PPI = 2,400 x 3,000 pixels.

If you are printing large and are afraid that you will be upsizing too much and the quality will be poor, don’t make the mistake of reducing resolution! The printer will still print at 300/360, and since you haven’t given it enough pixels, it will do the upsizing. Let Lightroom do it – it will do a better job. There are simply limits to how large you can print.

Printing in the Print Module

Similarly, when printing in the Print module, specify the resolution your printer prints at (i.e. its native resolution):

Lightroom print resolution

For more on the topic of resolution in printing, do read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Screen-Based Viewing

When we export photos to post online or to send by email for on-screen viewing, we customarily specify size in pixels, since monitor sizes are specified in pixels. For example, for Facebook, I export with the long edge at 960 pixels (vertical photos will be 960 pixels high, horizontal photos, 960 pixels wide):

Lightroom export resize for screen

This is really all we need – when specifying size in pixels, resolution doesn’t matter! Nevertheless, Lightroom won’t let you leave it blank, so go ahead and leave it at its default of 72.

If you have previously thought that the higher the resolution number you enter, the higher quality photo you get, try an experiment – export a photo sized in pixels with a resolution of 1 PPI, and the same photo again at 999 PPI, and compare them – they will be exactly the same! (For techies out there, yes, your file gets tagged with the resolution you set, but printers and monitors ignore it anyway. It could be useful if you plan to export and then open and print from Photoshop – in this case Photoshop will read and use this resolution, so you won’t have to set it there.)

Note that how large in inches your photo displays on someone’s monitor depends on what the monitor’s native resolution is – 72 and 96 PPI are common.

While resolution doesn’t matter when sizing in pixels, nevertheless, if you are submitting photos to an organization that gives you exact requirements – for example, “1024 x 768 pixels at a resolution of 72 PPI”, then give them exactly what they ask for. Either they don’t understand that resolution doesn’t matter here, or they don’t want to waste time explaining that any number will do. The last thing I want is for your photos to be disqualified because of something I wrote.

Exporting without Resizing

Even when you export without resizing, the Resolution box is still active. In this case it won’t affect the size or quality of your file at all. Nonetheless, if you are exporting to send to a printing service, go ahead and put 300 (or what they print at), to avoid any possible confusion at your printer’s. If you are meeting anyone else’s specifications, go ahead and put what they say. Otherwise I ignore this setting.

PPI versus DPI

These terms are often confused. DPI refers to how many dots of ink your printer prints per inch. For example, in my printer driver software, if I set Quality to its highest setting, my printer will print 2880×1440 DPI, so at 360 PPI, it will lay down 2880/360 x 1440/360 = 8×4 = 32 dots of ink for every pixel it prints. This is the only context in which DPI is relevant.

I’ll write more about sizing for export in future articles. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to hear about these and much more.

If this has helped demystify resolution for you, check out my Lightroom 5: Producing Great Output video series. In it I demystify many confusing output concepts, and then teach you how to print, and make photo books, slideshows and web galleries, all with Lightroom.

Have any questions or comments regarding this article? Share your thoughts below!

Oct 022009

Hint:  click on the title of this post above to see the post larger!

You can export images directly to CD or DVD using Lightroom.  The feature is a little bit hidden:

  • In the Library module, select your images to export.
  • Click on the Export button
  • At the top, you see the following:
The Default: Export to Disk

The Default: Export to Disk

  • Click on the drop down arrow next to Files on Disk, and change it to Files on CD/DVD. Continue reading »
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