Lightroom Ultimate Guide – Export Tool

In this article, we will cover the key features in Lightroom to Export your edited photos for sharing. Included in this article is the powerful feature to create user defined export presets. These presets enable you to create standard export work flows supporting e.g:

  • Export a High Resolution & Low Resolution copy for a client
  • Export a Low Resolution copy for Social Media
Lightroom Export

Lightroom Export

To access the Export Tool in Lightroom, you left-click “File” from the main menu, and then “Export…” from the File Sub-Menu.

This brings up a pop-up window with all of the export options. If you start the Export Tool with a Folder, Catalogue, or Publish Collection selected from your Library, then Lightroom will select all images for export. Alternatively, you can select individual images for export.

To start with, lets go through each of the export options, and finally how to set-up your own favourite presets.

The first option is where you want to Export To. This should be pretty self explanatory. By default you can select Email, CD/DVD or Hard Drive. Of course, if for example you have external drives etc, then these will come up as options for you.

Lightroom Export
Lightroom Export

The next option is the folder location you want to export your files to. Again, this should be pretty self explanatory, and is down to personal preference. I tend to opt for a folder on my desktop, and then add a sub-folder location “Export“. Periodically I then empty this folder out when it gets bigger.

There is a radio button called “Add to This Catalog”. If you check this, Lightroom will also take the additional step of adding a copy of the export file back into your library.

File Naming

The “Rename To” radio button allows you to customise the naming convention of your exported file. By default the exported file name is the same as the imported file name. But, let’s say for instance, you want to give contextual names such as your clients name. You can do this by selecting Custom Name from the pull-down menu, and then adding your own custom text.

File Renaming

If you are exporting multiple images, then Lightroom will automatically use a sequential numbering convention. e.g. ClientName1, ClientName2 etc. You can even override the start number. This is quite useful if you are for example adding images to an existing client gallery.


The next set of options are specifically for exporting video files, and will be greyed out if you are only exporting image files.


This section of the export panel is quite useful for handling video files for specific formats and sizes, and is a great short-cut for handling finished videos to export for say the web, or specific sizes for clients.

In any case, the options are pretty self-explanatory, and you can select from various video formats, as well as the quality of the output file. This latter option is great if you want to control the size of the file for e.g. email.

FIle Settings

This section allows you to specify the output format, with a number of options available to you including JPEG, PNG, DNG etc. This is useful, particularly if your source file is in RAW and needs converting for maximum utility. You can also select the Color Space, which is great if for example you need to provide a specific colour space for your preferred printing service.

File Settings

As well as this, you can choose either the export quality or limit file size to a maximum. This is great particularly if you are exporting web and want to optimise the image size, or making specific size copies for a client.

Output Sharpening

This section allows you to optimise the sharpening for different types of printing, or for screen. Its not an option I personally use, as I optimise the sharpening prior to export. But, it’s there should you need it.

Output Sharpening


The Metadata section enables you to keep or remove metadata from the exported file. If you choose to keep metadata, you can also choose to remove elements like geo-data or person information.


I find geo-data removal very useful for wildlife photography, in particular for animals that are endangered, as publicising their location across the internet can sometimes have a negative effect with unscrupulous individuals seeking out their habitats!


Next is watermarking, where you can add either a text or image watermark to your image. For a whole article just on Lightroom watermarking, check out out watermarking article.


This handy little section of the panel tells Lightroom what to do after it has exported the file. As in, you can tell it to open the Folder on your computer, or open the file in an external application such as Lightroom.

Managing Lightroom Export Presets

One of the real differentiators in Lightroom versus other software packages is the ability to save presets for future use. If you have a configuration of settings you use for different exports, you can save each as a preset, and call them up whenever you need them. You can even run multiple presets at the same time. So as alluded in the introduction, if for example you are processing a full size JPEG and a thumbnail, you can handle this simultaneously.

Lightroom Export

The Preset section sits at the left-hand side of the Export Panel. By default, Lightroom already gives you some useful presets which you can select by checking the respective radio buttons.

To add your own presets, you first set-up all the export settings you need. Then, by selecting “Add“, a new window pops up allowing you to select a name, and whether you want to store that in the folder User Presets by default, or select a new Folder. Clicking Create then generates your new preset.

Should you ever need to delete presets, you can do so from the Preset section of the panel.

You can also easily update a preset by left-clicking the preset, and then editing the export settings.

Whatever you choose to do with presets in Lightroom, the process is a breeze!

If you enjoyed this article, please check out some more of our Lightroom Ultimate Guide. Here are a couple of articles that may interest you:

Lightroom Crop Tool
Lightroom Crop Overlay

Lightroom Crop Overlay is all about cropping your images to get the best aspect ratio for the job. Find out how to crop like a pro!

Lightroom Spot Removal
Lightroom Spot Removal

The Spot Removal tool enables you to remove minor blemishes from your digital images, such as dust spots and small unwanted objects.


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