The Ultimate Guide to Export in Lightroom

You’ve done all the work on your photos, they look amazing. Now what? We saw earlier that Lightroom is a non-destructive editor, which means that any of the changes we apply in Lightroom are never really getting applied to the original photos. So, how do we see those changes onto our photographs? How do you get your photos outside of Lightroom to be able to share them online or print them?

This is where Export comes in. The Export function is kind of like the “Save As” function on other softwares.

To export your finished photos, select them and then go to File menu > Export or press the Export button at the bottom of the left panel group in Library module. This will open up the Export dialog box and you will select the different settings from there based on how you want to use the image. Let’s take a look at these settings and what they do:

Export Location

Choose the destination location of the exported photos. You can select the folder by clicking on the Choose button and navigating to that folder.

File Naming

You can rename your files upon export. If you want to rename it to something simpler than what we had named them earlier, you can create a filename template or choose from the existing ones to rename your files.

Image Format 

This lets you choose between JPEG, TIFF, PSD, DNG or Original. For most uses, a JPEG would be the way to go. You will need to select a quality setting, which will also affect the file size. Anything below 60 on the quality setting would mean that small artefacts will start showing on your photo. In other file formats, you would choose TIFF or PSD if you want to work on it in another software such as Photoshop. Original would just create another RAW file with the metadata exported along with it as a sidecar file, while choosing DNG would create a RAW file with the metadata embedded into it.

Color Space

If you are exporting for screen/web, printing at a lab, this should be at sRGB. If you are printing at home, check with your printer’s manual and choose the color space it specifies.

Image Size

This allows you to specify the pixel dimensions of your output photos. These will depend upon how you’re going to use your exported photos.

Exporting for Print 

If you’re exporting your files to print them later on, you should have your resolution to be at 240 or 300. I wouldn’t recommend changing the size here, as you would want to have the maximum pixels in your photo when printing, so I would uncheck the Resize to Fit checkbox.

Exporting for Web

 You don’t need a very high resolution photo to display on social media or your website. So, when exporting for use on the web, your resolution could be anything. It doesn’t really matter. The other thing is that you should also reduce the pixel dimensions of the photo. You can do that by checking the Resize to Fit checkbox, then from the dropdown menu, choose Long Edge, and add something between 800-1200px, as those are the good sizes for the web.

The Cheat Sheet

That’s all there is to Exporting. In order for you to easily remember which settings to keep during the export process, we have created a cheat sheet that will come in handy to you every time you are exporting your photographs. You can simply right-click and “Save Image As…” to save it onto your computer.

Shajee Aijazi

Shajee Aijazi is the founder of Digital Darkroom Academy. He helps people speed up their post-processing workflow and organize their photos in a way that they don't have to waste time managing it and they can focus on creating great looking images.

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