Before we can start enjoying the fruits of our Lightroom labors, need to export the images. This is the last step in our workflow process after we’ve imported and post processed our images.

Now, the reason for exporting can be different every time because it can be for email, for print, for web, or anything else you mightneed. That’s going to always vary but we will be using the same process each time.



To start exporting we’re going to have to bring up the Export Dialogue Box, and there are a few ways to bring this up. We can bring up the Export Dialogue Box by clicking the Export button located on the Lightroom window itself, you can right-click on a selected image and choose the Export option, or we can simply use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+E (Cmd+Shift+E for Mac). One thing you should note when you bring up the Export Dialogue Box is that it’s going to export the images that are selected.



Now exporting is very simple, its just a matter of understanding what each setting does. Starting from the top, we have the option to export to email, hard drive, or to a CD/DVD. Over on the left side of the Export Dialogue Box, we have our preset dialogue where we can set presets to have the common settings that we use when we export our images.




Over on the right, we have all the settings that will go into what the final format is going to be for the images you have selected. The first one on the list is choosing the export location and we can either choose a specific folder to export to, choose a folder later, or we can choose to export to the same folder as the original folder.

With the Specific Folder option, you can choose a specific location to export to. The Choose Folder Later option is very useful if you have a preset that has a designated export location. The Same Folder as Original Photo option is going to match the folder where the original photo was. You can also choose from recent locations if you click on the little drop down menu next to the folder address bar.



File naming and renaming is going to be one of those sections that we cover in the workflow and so we actually don’t rename upon export. The reason we do this is that if you’re renaming upon export, the exported files are going to have a specific file name but the files inside of your Lightroom catalog are going to have a different file name. So we usually leave this option turned off because we tend to do all our renaming inside of the catalog before we export.

If you do want it turned on you can basically choose what you want to rename it to. You can select a custom name, and often times a custom name with a sequence. From there all the images that are selected will be renamed to the custom name with a number. For example: Test 1, Test 2, Test 3, and so forth.



Lightroom 5 and  Lightroom 4 in terms of video is still limited, so the options here are very straight forward. If you are using Lightroom to manage video files, basically you are going to choose the video format and the quality, and whether or not you want to include any selected video files in the export. So let’s say you’ve select the entire catalog to export but you don’t want video files, you just leave this deselected and Lightroom won’t export the video files.


This is one of the big keys of this entire exporting process because this tells Lightroom what format we want our images to be. We can export to jpeg, which is going to be the most common if you’re going to print or saving for web, we also have psd, tiff, dng, or we can save out as the original. Note that if we select original it doesn’t include any options or quality because we’re just copying the original to another location.


We have the option to limit the file size itself to a specific size. If you select this option you’ll notice that the quality option automatically goes away because we’re telling Lightroom that we want to control the quality based on the selected file size. This is useful for web use when you don’t want any images to exceed a certain file size because you want your website to be quick and efficient.


Under file settings, we have image sizing and its default is on off. If we turn resize to fit on, then we can change the size of an image to enlarge or shrink down. Normally we use this to shrink images down and if we want to enlarge we typically go into Photoshop which gives us more control and better results. But this is very useful for exporting to web to limit or shrink down the sizes of files.

We have different options here and what these options do is they’ll shrink or enlarge the image by width and height, by dimensions, by long edge, by short edge, or by megapixels. My favorite one to use here is the long edge because the long edge option is going to give us a single option to limit the long edge of a photo – whether it’s a portrait or landscape – to the setting that we’ve set it to. So let’s say we set the long edge to 850 pixels. This means that on a landscape, the long edge – the wide edge – is going to be 850 pixels wide. On a portrait, the long edge – which is the edge going up and down – is going to be 850 pixels tall.


The interesting thing to note here is that the resolution doesn’t matter, and you’ll notice that if you save this out, the size of the file will be exactly the same even if you export the same image but with different pixels per inch. So just keep in mind that in the export dialogue that’s not going to matter if you are resizing by pixel dimension.


Output sharpening is an option that we have where it’s automatically going to apply sharpening to every single image exported based on these different settings. So with “Sharpen For” selected we’re going to choose what format this is going to be for – if it’s going to be for screen, matte paper, or glossy paper.

Typically is we’re output sharpening for screen we usually set this amount to high because we want it to be very sharp and crisp on all monitors, but this does depend on your work flow and where you’re doing your sharpening. Most of our sharpening is done within the images themselves and I highly recommend you do that as well because this output sharpening is kind of an arbitrary number.

We only have these three choices: low, standard, and high. And we don’t really know how those are going to look. So I recommend once again that you sharpen in Lightroom so you will have more control over the look of your image.



The next option on our list is metadata. As you can see, we have a few options to choose from: “Copyright Only”, “Copyright and Contact Info Only”, “All Except Camera & Camera Raw Info”, and “All Metadata”. If you don’t want people to see how the image was shot then you can select “Copyright Only”, or “Copyright and Contact Info Only”, or “All Except Camera & Camera Raw Info”.

If you select “All Metadata” its going to include all the metadata within the image – how it was shot, where it was shot, its going to show all the keywords, and so forth. With “All Metadata” we do have the option to remove location information and to write keywords as Lightroom hierarchy – which is going to retain the keyword hierarchy that you have selected within Lightroom.



Here we have the option to watermark our images. You have the option to choose the watermarks you want from the drop down menu or you can go to the right and edit the watermark itself.



Last we have post processing, and this is going to allow us to do a several things. The default after export is to show the images inside of an explorer window or inside of a finder window on a mac. You can also set this to do nothing, but the real power after export is in using other applications, or say droplets, to basically create processes inside of Photoshop. For example, if we want to export these images from Lightroom and then we want to take all the images into Photoshop and run a batch process on all the images we can set up a droplet.


If we do that, Lightroom will first export all the images and then it will take them into Photoshop and run a batch process through them. This is a very useful feature for those of you that like to apply batch applications across exported files from Lightroom.