How to use the Watermark Editor

How to use the Watermark Editor

This post was updated on June 25th, 2020

Learning Adobe ® Lightroom

In the last two articles of this series, we had a look at the Export Window of Adobe ® Lightroom. You may have noticed that we did not explore the Watermark section of it in detail. So now, it is time to find out how we can create Watermarks with the help of the Watermark Editor in Adobe ® Lightroom for our images.

Restrictions on creating watermarks with Adobe ® Lightroom

Isn’t this mean, I just said we would learn how to add watermarks, and now I am starting you off with the restrictions already? However, better now than never, I suppose. If you have followed this series along, or indeed if you have worked some time with Adobe ® Lightroom already, you may have noticed that there is no option in the Develop module that allows you to add text or graphical shapes to your photo.

The only places where you can add a watermark – a graphical or a textual one – to your image is in the Export Window while exporting your images, in the Slightshow Module, the Print Module, and the Web Module. So simplified: wherever you can get one or more of your photos out of Lightroom into another medium – except for the Book Module – you can create a watermark.

Why do we have these restrictions?

Remember that, in one of the first articles of this series, I mentioned that Adobe ® Lightroom does not directly change your image files? It has a database where the changes are stored, and the software shows you how the image would look like with the applied changes. Yes, technically, you can store these in so-called sidecar files, but these are XML files in which you cannot store graphics.

This also comes with the slight advantage of making the software a little more secure. Since Adobe ® Lightroom does not alter your files, beyond adding so-called EXIF information, it also means that if by chance your software crashes, your photos are not in an in-between condition from which they are hard, if at all, to restore. And, of course, this allows you to revoke all kinds of changes that you have made during the development process.

Creating Watermarks in the Export Window

Watermarking in the Export Window
Watermarking in the Export Window

To apply an existing or newly created watermark to your photo during the export, you have to cross off the checkbox in the Watermarking section of the Export Window.
Adobe ® Lightroom comes with one standard textual watermark, called Simple Copyright Watermark. This watermark is simply the copyright symbol followed by your operating system username, placed in the lower-left corner of your image. If that is all you need, make your other adjustments as explained in the previous two articles of this series and click on the Export button, and your newly created files will have this simple watermark included.

I don’t think you would be reading this article if this was all that you needed. So let’s go on and create our first textual watermark.

Creating a watermark

Again in the Watermarking section of the Export Window, click on the menu next to the word Watermark. You will get a list of options to choose from, first listing all the watermarks that you have created previously – if any – then the Simple Copyright Watermark and at the bottom, a choice called “Edit Watermarks…”.
“Edit Watermarks…” is what you want to select now. It does not matter which watermark from the list is currently selected as you can change that selection in the Edit Watermarks window, which is opening next.

Watermarking - Drop-down Menu
Watermarking – Drop-down Menu

Let us explore this window in a little more detail first before we create our new watermarks.

The Edit Watermarks Window

Edit Watermarks Window
Edit Watermarks Window

The drop-down menu

The menu drop-down shows you either the name of the watermark that you are currently working on if it is one that you have created, or Custom if you selected “Simple Copyright Watermark” when you chose Edit watermarks in the Export Window. However, if you now find out that you would like to adjust a different watermark, select it from the drop-down menu and make your adjustments.

This menu offers you also the following options if you are working on the default preset:

  1. “Save Current Settings as New Preset…” which opens another window where you enter a new name for the preset.
  2. Restore Default Presets 

Or if you are working on one of your customized presets you will instead see:

  1. “Save Current Settings as New Preset…” 
  2. Restore Default Presets 
  3. “Delete Preset <selected preset name>…”
  4. “Rename Preset <selected preset name>…”

Saving or Renaming Presets

The decisive difference between “Save Current Settings as New Preset…” and “Rename Preset …” is that, if you use the first, you keep your initial preset. If you are using the second option, you save your initial preset under a new name, and if you have made any changes to the settings, you have created a new preset and deleted the old one. This means Save as New results in two independent preset files. Renaming gives you one preset file as a result. In both cases, clicking on it will open a similar dialog box.

Save current settings as New Preset pop up window
Save Current Settings as New Preset
Rename Preset pop-up window
Rename Preset

If you compare the two dialog boxes above, you see that the Save dialog comes with a Create button instead of a Rename button, and the name of the preset is not pre-filled in whereas the Rename dialog comes with a pre-filled in name and a Rename button. This name, surprisingly, is the current name of the preset – including a warning that this preset already exists.
Both have a Cancel button, which I suppose I do not need to explain here 🙂

Deleting a Watermark Preset

The only preset that you can delete are those that you have created yourself. You cannot remove the one that Adobe ® Lightroom calls “Simple Copyright Watermark.” The latter is not even stored in the preset folder of Adobe ® Lightroom.
Clicking on the Delete button opens another little window, warning you that you cannot undo the removal of the preset.

Delete Watermark preset warning
Delete Watermark preset warning
Ways to undo the removal of a watermark preset

The warning says, that you cannot undo the removal. Well, that is not 100% correct. If you have a good backup routine of your computer, you should also be backing up the Lightroom Library files. On a Mac, they are stored in /Users//Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Watermarks. On a Windows machine, you will find them in C:/Users//AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Lightroom”. This location is true in both cases if you have not selected to store your Presets with your Lightroom catalog in the Preferences dialog in the Presets Tab. If you have selected to save your Presets with your catalog, you will find a directory called “Lightroom Settings” holding these in the folder where you find your Lightroom catalog as well.

And in case this just got confusing, there is some good news: in the Preferences Presets tab, you also have the option to let Lightroom show you where it stores your presets, including watermarks.

Lightroom Preferences - Presets with the location section marked in red
Lightroom Preferences – Presets with the location section marked in red

These directories you do want to include in your backup. If by some chance, your hard drive fails you, or you get a new computer, or you delete one of these files by accident, you can simply copy it back from the backup.

However, if you just hit the Delete button and have not made any more changes or closed the Watermark Edit window, you are still able to recreate your deleted preset. This because the settings are still visible in the Watermark Editor. All you need to do is to save it again.

Restore Default Presets

If you choose to open the Watermark Editor with a previously customized watermark, and you make changes to its settings, this option allows you to preserve the new settings, while keeping the old ones secure.

Let’s have a closer look at this.

I am opening the Watermark Editor with my Copyright Text watermark selected. Notice the drop-down menu in the editor – it shows the name of the currently selected watermark.

Watermark Editor with a saved preset
Watermark Editor with a saved preset

Now I make a simple change to the watermark. I am removing part of the text from the textbox.

Watermark Editor with changed, unsaved preset
Watermark Editor with changed, unsaved preset

Notice how the title of the watermark in the drop-down changes. It includes now “(edited)” as a postfix after the Watermarks name.

If we now open the drop-down menu notice the missing delete option and the additional Update Preset option as well.

Watermark Editor Drop Down menu for an edited, unsaved watermark
Watermark Editor Drop Down menu for an edited, unsaved watermark

Select “Restore Default Presets,” the look of the editor Window changes as shown in the next figure.

As you can see in the figure below, in the text box, it is still the same text to which we changed the original Copyright Text watermark. However, take a look at the drop-down menu. It now reads “Custom,” and if you open it, you get to choose from either saving the settings as a new preset or restoring default presets. The original Copyright Text watermark still exists in the selection.

Watermark Editor after Restoration of a Default watermark
Watermark Editor after Restoration of a Default watermark
Update Preset <Selected Preset Name>

This selection is only available after you make changes to an existing preset. It stores the new settings under the old name.

Excurs Watermark files

As we have already seen, Adobe ® Lightroom stores the changes that you make to the images in a database. Databases, in general, are not very good at interpreting graphics. So there is a software layer on top that translates the text describing the changes into the photo that you see on the screen.

Your watermark files are no different from these “textual descriptions” of the changes that you have made to your photos. So they are not stored as a graphic, but as a text file.

Now, you have two versions of watermarks: Pure textual watermarks that you can create directly in Adobe ® Lightroom, and graphical watermark, which you import through a PNG or JPEG file.

So how do we get a graphical watermark stored in a text file? If this were an art lesson, we could argue that we could write a lengthy description of how the graphic looks like, pixel by pixel.
There is an easier way, though. Your watermark file stores the path to the graphic file that you are using in the watermark file together with the other settings.

Why is this important

If you have created watermarks with graphics and you want to transfer them to a new computer, it is not enough to copy the watermark files. You also have to copy the graphic files that you used for the watermarks to the same folder again. Otherwise, your watermarks will suddenly no longer show on your exported images.

Yes, this also means that if you delete the graphic file that you used for a watermark, this watermark will no longer show on your exported photo. Slightly unfortunate here is that Adobe ® Lightroom will not present you with a file not found warning when you select such a watermark.

Watermark settings panel

Image Options

You do not have very many options here. All you can do is click the “Choose…” button, which opens a Finder/Windows Explorer window and lets you select the JPEG or PNG file that you want to use for your watermark.

Watermark Editor - Image Options
Watermark Editor – Image Options

If you select a file here, the Watermark Style radio button will automatically change to Graphic, and your Text Options and the Text Block below the preview will get greyed out.

Why would you choose a PNG over a JPEG?

PNG files support transparency. So you can create a beautiful graphic and store it with a transparent background in a PNG file. However, if you save the same graphic as a JPEG, the background color will automatically change to white.
If you use a JPEG, you will, therefore, make your watermark look more like a stamp – even though you can make the watermark a little “shine through.”
If you choose a PNG instead, you can make it look like a postmark instead, with your original image being visible where there is no graphical content from your PNG file.

So my recommendation would be using PNG files. However, maybe you find an excellent reason to use a JPEG? Then don’t let me be in your way 🙂

Text Options

Watermark Editor - Text options
Watermark Editor – Text options

These options only affect the text in the text box below the preview and they are only available as long as you do not include a graphic file to your watermark. If your graphic from the Image Options section contains text, you will not be able to change it with these settings. You have to change the graphic to change the text in the graphic file.

Notice, however, that you cannot set the size of the font in the Text Options section. The settings in the Watermark Effects section control the font size.


You can choose from a selection of available fonts. This selection does not necessarily include all fonts installed on your computer.


The Style drop-down menu gives you the usual selection of font styles for your text: Regular, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic.


The Alignment options only affect the text in the text box, if it is longer than one line. If you have a single line text and you set alignment to center, it will not move your writing to the center of the image.

You can choose between left/right alignment or centered.


You can set the color of your text.


Now here is where the fun with text starts. You are not restricted to plain writing as if you were to create your textual Watermark with a word processor. Here you can add some shadow to your text to give it a somewhat more advanced look or make the removal of the watermark that little bit harder for people who want to steal your photo. Just make sure not to overdo it, or your result might look rather cheap instead. In my opinion, it does not improve the picture to use a shadowed watermark.

However, to have access to any of the below settings, you need to cross off the checkbox first.


The opacity sets the transparency level of your shadow. 100, and you will not be able to see the underlying photo. Less than 100, and your photo will shine more and more through.


The offset determines how far away from the original text the shadow appears to be. So an offset of 0 sets the shadow right behind the watermark, which makes the shadow invisible. An offset of 100 – the maximum value – with an Angle value of -90, places the shadow as a new line below your watermark with a little bit of spacing between the two.


The radius setting determines the sharpness or softness of your shadow. If you set it to 0, it will be as sharp as your watermark text. Set to 100, and it looks more like a foggy grey area.


The radius setting determines where the shadow is placed. Below, above, to the right/left of the watermark or anywhere on a circular path in between these.

Watermark Effects

The Watermark Effect settings affect both textual and graphical watermarks.

Watermark Editor - Watermark Effects
Watermark Editor – Watermark Effects

This time the opacity setting affects your entire watermark. If you have a textual watermark with a shadow of an opacity less than 100 and you are setting a Watermark Effects opacity of less than 100, both values affect the final opacity of the shadow.

The easiest way to see this is to play around with those values. Eventually, you are going to use what you like best, and that will most likely not be determined by some weird calculation that we could do here.

Size Settings

Surprisingly determine the size of your watermark.


You control the size with the text box or the slider below, for a textual watermark it works as if you would use a font size. It works the same way for a graphical watermark, just that you do not necessarily have the direct relation between what “size 17” is for your graphic. At least I don’t have that. So once more, this can be an area of try and error.

If you are using a proportional size for your watermark, you can also hover over your watermark in the preview and click & drag on the sides and corners to adjust its size.


This radio button setting adjusts the size of your watermark so that it spreads evenly across your photo.


Creates an even larger watermark than the Fit option. In my test cases, the watermark ended up being larger than the exported photo. I haven’t found a situation where it would suit me.

Inset settings

These settings determine how far from the left/right (Horizontal) or lover/upper (Vertical) side of your image your watermark is placed. They work best in combination with a proportional size, as for Fill and Fit, you might cut off parts of your watermark.

Anchor settings

These radio buttons control where the export places the watermark on your images. You can make some adjustments to the placement with the Inset settings, though.

As you can see, you have nine radio buttons to choose from:

Radio settingDescriptionHorizontal insetVertical inset
Top left/rightPlaces the watermark in the top left/right corner of your image.yesyes
Top middlePlaces the watermark in the center of the upper area of your image.noyes
Middle left/rightPlaces the watermark in the middle section to the left/right of your image.yesno
CenterPlaces your watermark in the center of your photo.nono
Bottom left/rightPlaces your watermark in the bottom left/right corner of your image.yesyes
Bottom centerPlaces your watermark in the bottom center of your photo.noyes


The arrows rotate your watermark clockwise or counterclockwise.

All trademarks and copyrighted items mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

I am in no way affiliated with any of the products used in this post-processing process. I do not receive any kind of compensation for this article, it was neither offered or asked for.


All photos by Lille Ulven Photography/Wiebke Schröder

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