Use Export From Lightroom to Save Photo Edits

You can save files to your device by exporting them.

The Lightroom CC 2015 Exprort Dialg Box is shown in a screenshot.


If you are new to Lightroom, you may find yourself looking for the Save command. There's nothing wrong with your computer: It doesn't exist. Unlike other editing software, Lightroom saves data automatically and relies on an export system to save files to a hard drive.

Saving Files in Lightroom

Lightroom is a non-destructive editor, which means the pixels of your original photo are never changed. All the information about how you have edited your files is automatically stored in the Lightroom catalog, which is a "behind the scenes" database. If enabled in preferences, these editing instructions may also be saved with the files themselves as metadata, or in XMP "sidecar" files—a data file that sits alongside the raw image file.

Instead of saving from Lightroom, the terminology used is "Exporting." By exporting your files, the original is preserved, and you are creating a final version of the file, in whatever file format you prefer.

Exporting Files From Lightroom

You can export one or many files from Lightroom by making a selection and following any of these instructions:

  • Choose Export from the file menu.
  • Right-click on the image and select Export from the Context menu.
  • Click the large Export button at the bottom of the left side panel in the Develop module.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-E.

It's recommended that you do not export edited photos until you need them in another format—maybe to send to a printer, post online, or work within another application.

The Export Dialog box, shown above, is not terribly different from the Save As dialog box for many applications. Essentially the Lightroom Export dialog box is asking you a set of questions:

  • Export Location: This is to determine where on your computer you'd like the exported file to be saved. If you have a specific folder ind mind, select Export To > Specific Folder. Select the Choose button and locate the folder. If you want to add a subfolder you will be asked to give it a name.
  • File Naming: Choose the name of the file and decide if the extension should be uppercase or lowercase. This is mostly for organizational preferences. It has no effect on the output. Just be aware the name you assign to the file will be used as the default name for any subsequent files you export from this project.
  • Video: You can export video from Lightroom. Some of the exportable video formats you can choose include AVI, MOV, MP4, and AVCHD.
  • File Settings: This is where you set the file format. Available types include JPEG, PSD, TIFF, DNG, PNG, and Original. Once the format is chosen the area will change to provide you with a number of options specific to the chosen format.
  • Image Sizing: This area lets you resize the image to specific dimensions and resolutions.
  • Output Sharpening: You can choose to apply a bit of sharpening to your photos when you export. The amount of sharpening applied is based on the format and resolution specified.
  • Metadata: You can add copyright or other information to embed in the file. You can also add your own keywords
  • Watermarking: You can add a copyright or custom watermark to most files.
  • Post-Processing: This area lets you determine what to do after the image or video has been exported.

If you often export files using the same criteria, you can save the settings as an Export Preset by selecting Add button in the Export dialog box.

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