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Liberating Your Lightroom Files: Exporting


Exporting is all about taking the photos that you have developed in Lightroom and LIBERATING them to be shared with the world.

In Lightroom, photos can be liberated in two ways–they can be exported as JPEGs to another folder on your hard drive or they can be published to the web using Lightroom’s Publish Services feature.  For today’s tutorial, we are going to focus on Exporting.

To export, select the photo or photos that you would like to export.  Then right-click on the photos.  A menu with a list of options will appear.  Hover over Export and then a new menu will appear.  Choose Export from this menu as well.  (You can also press ctrl+shift+E or select “Export” from the File drop-down menu.)

Now a pop-up dialog box will appear.  This box has LOTS of options.  Don’t get overwhelmed—they are all pretty easy to understand.  I’ll go through what each of these means.

  • Export Location: Use this box to tell Lightroom where you would like the exported files to live on your hard drive.  You also have the option to have Lightroom create a new subfolder in the location that you have chosen.  The last option allows you to have Lightroom keep track of these files you are now exporting in your Lightroom catalog.
  • File Naming: Use this box to rename your files as you are exporting.  There are lots of options available in the drop down menu.  Custom name and sequence is a popular one that allows you to assign a custom name as well as sequentially # the photos you are exporting.
  • File Settings: This box allows you to determine the file type and color space the the photos will be exported in.  There are options like JPEG, PSD, TIFF, DNG, or you can keep it in the original format it was taken in.  You can set the quality of the file anywhere from 0 to 100.  For the color space option, if these photos will be printed at a photo lab or used on the web, I generally set this to sRGB.
  • Image Sizing:  This setting allows you to resize your images and set the resolution.  Anna did a great tutorial here on Pretty Presets that covers resizing in depth.  

BE AWARE: Whether or not you have the Image Sizing box checked–YOU STILL NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR RESOLUTION IS WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE!  I put this in all caps, because I didn’t realize for quite a long time and it caused me some problems.


  • Output Sharpening:  This allows you to choose to have some sharpening applied to your file.  If you are resizing your file for the web, then I would recommend that you apply some sharpening.  I typically select “Screen” from the pull-down menu and set the amount to “Standard.”  You can also apply this when you are exporting for print, but experiment with what settings you like.
  • Metadata:  This allows you to control how much of the metadata is available in your exported files.  Newer camera’s have a lot of information recorded in the metadata (including GPS coordinates) so take a look and decide how much you want to allow people to see.  I typically choose “Contact & Copyright.”
  • Watermarking:  I did a whole post on how to apply watermarks to files.  So in this little spot I will only say that you can apply one of your watermark presets to your files as you are exporting if you choose.
  • Post-Processing:  Here you can choose to have Lightroom do something with or to your files once they are exported.  You can have Lightroom open the exported files in Photoshop, but I typically just have this set to “Do Nothing.”


This FREE Download can help you with settings as you prepare to export files for print and web.


Have fun liberating and sharing your Lightroom files!

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