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Taking Images from Lightroom to Photoshop

Many photographers, both professional and hobbyists, have more than one editing programs. And, more often than not those two programs are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

If you are new to one or both, you may not realize how beautifully the two programs were designed to work together. Today we want to show you how to set up an external (Adobe) editing program in Lightroom.

Lightroom and Photoshop

Usually Lightroom will *find* Photoshop and link up with it without you having to do it. However, there are a few changes you may want to make to the settings and you go to the Preferences menu to make those changes.

  • On a PC: click Edit in top menu, then down to Preferences, then the External Editing tab.
  • On a Mac: click Lightroom in top-left corner, then Preferences, then the External Editing tab.


Photoshop users be sure to check the following settings:

  • File format - it defaults to a .tif file
  • Color space - the LR experts recommend staying in the ProPhoto RGB color space since the image is coming back to Lightroom. You will convert to sRGB when exporting.
  • Bit depth - keep this at 16 bits
  • Resolution - default may be 240. You can change it to 300 or leave as is.
  • Compression - None

After you make any changes, you need to restart your Lightroom so that when you take an image to PS or PSE, the new settings will be in effect.

Adding Photoshop Elements

If you have Photoshop Elements instead of (or in addition to) Photoshop, Lightroom may automatically find it as it does with Photoshop. If it does not, you can add it as an additional editor by choosing it in the External Editing tab.

The settings should be the same as above except you need to change the bit depth to 8 bits. A limited amount of editing can be done in PSE at 16 bit depth, but you could not use layers at all, so I choose to take them in at 8 bit.

What the heck is "bit depth" and what is the difference between 8 and 16? That is a great question but one better left for a post by itself. 

Taking Images to Photoshop

After you have the external editor settings updated, your images are now ready to move between the programs. Taking an image from Lightroom to Photoshop or PSE is so, so easy. 

  • While in the Develop module, right click on an image and choose "Edit In," then Photoshop (or PSE).  Or to have the image automatically be seen in Lightroom with your Photoshop Edits when you are done, click cmd/ctrl + E.
  • Your Photoshop or PSE will then open up and your image will load.


In the background, Lightroom has made a .tif file which will be updated once you bring the file back to Lightroom. We will talk more about that in the second part of this tutorial, so stay tuned!

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