Lightroom doesn’t directly edit your original photos, so even though your pictures look different in Lightroom when you edit them, these adjustments exist only within Lightroom. If you want to send an edited version to someone else or for use on a website, for example, you need to ‘Export’ a new version of the picture with your adjustments applied.
This is much more powerful than the ‘Save as’ option in a program like Photoshop. Lightroom can export pictures at fixed sizes, with or without metadata and in a range of different formats. It can save images in batches, not just individually, and you don’t have to go through all these settings each time you want to export some files because you can create and save ‘Export presets’ for re-use in the future.
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To show how it’s done, I’m going to create an export preset for photos used on the Life after Photoshop website. I like to resize them to 1024 pixels wide (or high, depending on the orientation) so that they’re large enough to fill the screen, but not large enough for commercial printing – it’s my way of reducing the risk of having my pictures re-used without my permission.
Along the way I’m going to demonstrate some of the other less obvious, but equally useful, settings available for Lightroom export presets.
01 The Export option
You’ll find this on the File menu – you can also use the command/ctrl-E shortcut. Two steps down on the menu you’ll see the option ‘Export with Preset’. This will be useful later on when you’ve created your own presets because it bypasses the Export dialog altogether. Otherwise, this is the next step…
02 Export dialog
The Export dialog lists all the settings Lightroom will apply to your image files on export. On the left is a list of built-in presets for different purposes, while on the right is a series of expanding panels where you can change these settings manually.
You save a new preset by clicking the Add button in the bottom left corner, but DO NOT do that now. You need to choose your settings first and then create the preset.
03 Export location
There’s a whole mass of manual settings, and they look can look really confusing. The best way to tame them is to collapse them all and open them one-by-one in a systematic way.
I’ll start with the Export Location at the top of the list. You can choose a specific location on your computer to save the files to, but if you’re going to use this preset a lot, it’s unlikely you’ll want to save pictures to the same place every time. So here, it’s best to select the ‘Choose folder’ option.