How to Move Images Between Lightroom and Photoshop

Lightroom to Photoshop

Working Between Lightroom and 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 of these programs, you may not realize how beautifully they are designed to work together.  Today we want to show you how to set up your external editing settings in Lightroom, and then how to easily move your images and work between Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lightroom & Photoshop Facebook Group

Lightroom Settings for Taking Images to 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 to Lightroom

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 will need to restart your Lightroom so that when you take an image to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, the new settings will be in effect.

If Desired, Add Photoshop Elements as Another Option

If you have Photoshop Elements instead of (or in addition to) Photoshop, Lightroom may automatically find it as it does with Photoshop.  If it doesn't, 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 Photoshop Elements at 16 bit depth, but you would not be able to use layers at all, so I choose to take them in at 8 bit.

Working Between Lightroom and Photoshop

Moving Images from Lightroom to Photoshop

After you have the external editor settings updated, your images are now ready to move between the programs.  And taking an image from Lightroom to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements will be super easy.

While in the Develop module, highlight the image you want to take to Photoshop and press Cmd/Ctrl + E.  Your Photoshop or Photoshop Elements will then open up and your image will load.  The image will be a be whatever file type you specified in your above Lightroom Preferences.  The default file is a .tif file.

You may also right-click on the image and choose Edit In>Photoshop CC or Photoshop Elements or you can choose Photo>Edit In>Photoshop CC or Photoshop Elements.

Export from Lightroom to Photoshop

Moving Images from Photoshop to Lightroom

One of the best parts of taking an image from Lightroom to Photoshop using the steps above is that when you will have access to the image WITH the Photoshop edits in Lightroom when you are finished.

When you are finished editing your image in Photoshop, save it using the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + S.  Within a few minutes of saving, your .tif file with the Photoshop adjustments, it will be available in Lightroom.

From here, you can make additional adjustments to your image back in Lightroom, including Lightroom presets, brushes, and filters.  When you are finished, export your image from Lightroom to merge all of the changes together!

If you are more of a visual learner, we have a fantastic Lightroom to Photoshop and Back Video that will walk you through the process.  Enjoy!

Lightroom to Photoshop and Back - Training Video


Lightroom and Photoshop are two totally different editing programs, each with different strengths and weaknesses.  Being able to easily move between them will allow you to take advantage of their strengths and will work perfectly together to allow you to create the best images for yourself and others!

Additional Reading: 3 Lightroom Settings to Change RIGHT NOW!

Do you have any questions about How to Take Images Between Lightroom and Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!

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