How to export your photos from Lightroom

by Monica Wilkinson

So you finish editing and making changes to your images or “copies “in Lightroom. Now what?

To some, Lightroom can be confusing since you are never really “saving” your work. Instead, when you add key words or metadata in the library module or change your exposure or white balance in the develop module you are making changes to copies that are stored in your Lightroom catalog. These changes are never made on your original files.

So you are done editing and you want to email your images to a friend or upload them to Facebook. Maybe they are for a client and you need to prepare high-resolution files or upload them to your blog. This is where you will use the export process.

First thing you will need to do is highlight the images you want to export.  This may be one image, a few images, or all of them in the file.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

Second, you will select the export box (circled below), or you can go to File>Export.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

This will open the Export dialog box. Once open you choose where you want your files to be exported. I choose my desktop because it is easy. Next I check the file “Put in Subfolder”. Since this is just for my personal macro shots, I name it macro, skip everything else, and set my resolution to 300 and export. This will export the images in their original size to a file named macro on my desktop.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

Under file settings, I always keep my settings to jpeg and sRGB, because I am usually exporting for people who need the images in that format. You may choose psd, tiff, dng or original if needed.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

If I am working with client files I do things a little differently. First, I name the subfolder with the client’s last name. With clients I export two files. One sized for my gallery and blog and one sized for my high- resolution files. If I am exporting for my gallery, I check the “rename to” box in the file naming section. Here I have made some custom templates for renaming my files. With my gallery I have chosen to rename the files to Image01.jpg, image02.jpg etc. This just keeps the numbering simple while at the same time; it keeps my clients from seeing the images go from DSC_338 to DSC_352. You do not want them asking you where the missing images are!!

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

If you choose the drop down menu you can pick your other saved templates or you can hit “Edit…” to make a new one.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

Selecting edit will pull up the Filename Template Editor where you can choose how you would like your files named. You can add any text you want. Some people choose Image01, Image02, etc. Some people use their clients name with a number ex. smith01, smith02, etc. Some people add their business name within the file name for SEO purposes. It is up to you.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

After choosing my file name, I check the resize to fit. With the drop down menu you can choose width & height, dimensions, long edge, short edge, or megapixels. I choose long edge, and set my pixels to 900 and resolution to 72 because this is for web and my gallery and blog both need images sized at 900px. I sharpen for screen at standard. I do not need my images watermarked for my gallery. My website automatically watermarks them. However, you can check “watermark” if you want to use this feature. Finally, I hit export. This will export the files I have highlighted in my filmstrip into a file on my desktop.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

If I am exporting my files as high resolution for print, I change a few things. I rename to High res instead of gallery, I leave the resize to fit box UNCHECKED so my file will stay at the original size and I change the resolution to 300 instead of 72. I do not export sharpen for print. Some people do and if you choose you can select sharpen for matte or glossy paper. I then hit EXPORT and this will make me another file named High res with my files ready to burn to a disc or upload to ROES.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photo

That is it. One thing to remember is that the export dialog box keeps the same values that you had inputted from your previous export. So you want to be sure to look over everything before printing. You do not want to be surprised and realize you have exported your files at 72ppi instead of 300ppi for print. You will be very upset if you find you have forgotten to change that setting from a previous export.

How to export your photos from Lightroom photoMonica Wilkinson, Seattle
Director of Retail Sales
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Armed with a Nikon D700, several Nikkor primes and the Tamron 28-75, Monica focuses on children and newborn portraiture in the Seattle, Washington area, despite her disdain for the rain. She also has a love for macro photography and is the instructor of CMU’s Shooting 106: Intro to Macro and Shooting 102: Mastering Manual Exposure photography workshops. And although Monica is a Mac girl, she is madly in love with her Microsoft employed husband, their two young daughters and the family’s Maltipoo, Scout. She enjoys kickboxing and DIY crafts but would much rather spend her day off “laying on a hot, sunny beach reading a magazine while sipping a fruity beverage.” When Monica stops by Starbucks, her OCD nature tends to surface and her resulting order is a Venti Passion Fruit Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade with 2 pumps classic syrup.

Read all photography tutorials by Monica Wilkinson.

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66 Responses to “How to export your photos from Lightroom”

  1. Amy Batte
    Mar 23 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Thank you Monica for all the great tips!

  2. Dana
    Mar 23 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for the tips, Monica! I love all the organizing tips on the blog.

  3. Danielle M.
    Mar 23 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Thanks Monica! I'm always unsure of what resolution I should be exporting as…thanks for the tips!

  4. Mar 23 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Great tips thanks!

  5. Mar 23 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Great tutorial! Under "File Settings" do you ever adjust the "Quality" slider?

  6. Danielle A
    Mar 23 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    great tips, thanks!

  7. Jess
    Mar 23 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Thank you for all the great tips being shared on the CM blog!

  8. Sandy Young
    Mar 24 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Great tips, Monica, thanks for sharing this!

  9. Mar 25 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, Monica! Fabulous tips!

  10. Mar 28 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Is there a setting that you can use so it exports both a full size and a websize at the same time or do you have to go back and do it twice. sorry just a little confused

  11. Jul 26 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Excellent Looking Site Excellent Job !

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    I find the legal issues of this area quite debatable. Thanks for the information.

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  14. Joe Louis
    Oct 22 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi! I’m sure Boxing is the most entertaining activity from all.

  15. Feb 03 2013 at 2:31 am #

    Just what honestly encouraged you to write “exporting from Lightroom”?
    I personallycertainly appreciated the post!
    Thank you -Francisco

  16. Amanda Ross
    May 08 2013 at 1:28 am #

    Thank you SO SO much for this post! I have been racking the internet looking for this info and of course its on CM :)

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