The Export Window Part 2

The Export Window Part 2

This post was updated on June 25th, 2020

Learning Adobe ® Lightroom

In the previous article of this series, we started exploring the Export window. We had a look into how to access it, and how to create our own presets. Today, with the Export Window Part 2, we explore the different settings that we can make for our exported files.

Export Settings

These settings are only available if you are using no or one preset for the export. As soon as you check one of the preset checkboxes the Export Settings will be greyed out. You will no longer be able to make adjustments to them unless you uncheck the checkbox first.

To select a single preset and make adjustments to the settings of your export, you have to click on the name of the preset in the Preset section of the Export window.

Export Settings in the Export Window of Adobe ® Lightroom
Export Settings

Export Location

Export Location Section
Export Location Section
Export To: Selection List
Export To: Selection List
  • Export To: Choose the location where your exported files are stored.
    • Choose folder later (useful for presets): As a first step of the export process, Adobe ® Lightroom asks you for the path to the directory where it shall save your files. Choosing the folder later is a suitable choice, when you store your settings in a preset, as it allows you to change the location with every execution of this preset.
    • Specific folder: The Folder filed specifies a directory in which Lightroom saves your exported files. If you use this setting in a preset, Adobe ® Lightroom stores all photos that you export with this preset in this specific directory.
    • Same Folder as Original Photo: Stores your photo in the same directory from which you have imported the original.
    • Preselected directories: below the grey line you find some directories that should exist on your computer, like the Desktop or Pictures folder.
  • Folder: The folder you choose to export your photos to if you select “Specific Folder” in the Export To dialog. In this case, you see a “Choose…” button, which opens Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer to help you find the folder you want to store your files.
  • Put in Subfolder: You can access this if you choose “Specific Folder” or “Same Folder as Original Photo” in the Export To dialog. However, you have to cross off the checkbox “Put in Subfolder” before you can write the name of the new subdirectory into the text field.
  • Add to this Catalog: the exported file gets reimported into the current Catalog of Adobe ® Lightroom.
Existing Files Selection
Existing files Selection
  • Existing files: if the filename that you are exporting to is already used, you can specify here how Adobe ® Lightroom should react.
    • Ask what to do: When Adobe ® Lightroom detects a duplicate file name, it opens a pop-up window and gives you three options:
      • overwrite the existing file 
      • use a unique name
      • skip exporting the file
    • Choose a new name for the exported file: Adobe ® Lightroom automatically adds a number as a prefix to the filename if it detects a duplicate during the export process.
    • Overwrite WITHOUT WARNING: New files overwrite existing files with the same name, you do not receive any extra information to cancel this during the export process.
    • Skip: cancels the export of the new file; the initial export-file remains unchanged in the chosen location.

File Naming

If you want to keep the original filename for your new exported file, you do not have to specify anything here, except for the file extension setting. 

File Naming Section
File Naming Section
  • Rename To: Here you can give the exported file a different name. You can also create presets for the renaming of files. There are some predefined Rename To settings that you can choose from in the selection field. For more details on the File Naming block have a look at the Renaming Files in Adobe Lightroom article.
  • Custom Text: is available if you choose to use a custom text in your Rename To settings. 
  • Start Number: is available if you choose to use a sequence number in your Rename To settings.
  • Extension: you can choose to save your file extension in upper- or lowercase.


Yes, if you imported a video into your Adobe ® Lightroom catalog, this is your chance to export it.

Settings that you may have made in the File Naming and Export Location block are applied to the new file.

Video Section in the Export Settings
Video Section
  • Video Format: gives you the possibility to choose between different video formats
    • H.264 is a compressed video file standard, which is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10.
      • Quality options:
        • Max: lowest compression rate, larger file size. Suitable for watching the video later on a big screen.
        • High: lower compression rate than Max, smaller file but still with decent quality.
        • Medium: higher compression rate than Max and High, smaller file.
        • Low: highest compression rate, smallest file size. Low is a proper setting for videos that you want to show on a mobile phone or send via email.
    • DPX is an uncompressed video file standard.
      • Quality options: 24p Full Range, 25p Full Range, and 30p Full Range
    • Original, unedited file creates a copy of your original video file without any edits that you might have made to its metadata.

File Settings

Export Settings - File Setting Original
File Settings

In this section, you have the choice between different file formats as well as image sizes and resolutions.

File Settings - Image Format Selection List
File Settings – Image Format Selection List

Image Format

It gives you the choice of different file formats. Depending on your selection, you have additional options for image quality, file size, and color space.


Preserves your file-format in the exported file. So if you imported a DNG file, the export creates a new DNG file, if you imported a JPEG the export creates a JPEG. All settings for image quality, color space, and file size are kept as in the original file, which means this comes with no further options.


Exports your file into a JPEG file. 

File Settings - JPEG
File Settings – JPEG
  • Quality: Settings below 100 compress your file and give you a smaller file size. If you decide later, to open your exported file again and do some more post-processing with it, the quality of the file deteriorates with every saving process. 

  • Color Space: Gives you a choice between different color spaces.

  • Limit File Size To: If you need to restrict your file size to a certain amount, you check this box and specify the size you want to restrict to in KiloBytes (KB). 1024 KB = 1 MB. This setting can be helpful if you want to send the exported file via email or if you want to upload it to a web service, for example.


Exports your file into a Photoshop file (PSD)

File Settings - PSD
File Settings – PSD
  • Color Space: Gives you a choice between different color spaces.

  • Bit depth: You can choose between 8 and 16 bits/component for your exported file.


Exports your file into a TIFF file.

File Settings - TIFF
File Settings – TIFF
  • Compression: You can choose if you want to automatically compress your TIFF file(s) into a ZIP file.

  • Color Space: Gives you a choice between different color spaces.

  • Bit depth: You can choose between 8 and 16 bits/component for your exported file.

  • Save Transparency: If you check this box, transparent areas keep their transparency. Otherwise, transparent areas take on the background color.


Exports your file into a PNG file. PNG is a Portable Networks Graphics file, a raster-graphics file format, which supports lossless data compression and transparency.

File Settings - PNG
File Settings – PNG
  • Color Space: Gives you a choice between different color spaces.

  • Bit depth: You can choose between 8 and 16 bits/component for your exported file.


Exports your file into Adobe’s standard Raw format DNG.

File Settings - DNG
File Settings – DNG
  • Compatibility: The higher the version number you chose here, the newer the software must be that you are using to open the file. However, it is possible to open files saved with older versions of Camera Raw in newer versions of the software.

  • JPEG Preview: Determines the size of the JPEG preview that is stored within your DNG file. You can choose between None, Medium Size, and Full Size. None, of course, means there is no JPEG Preview included, so your file might not have a preview in Windows Explorer/Finder. The larger the included preview, the better the quality of the preview, however, the file size grows accordingly. I prefer using medium; it is good enough to spot which image it is, yet it doesn’t take too much space.

  • Embed Fast Load Data: Checking this box stores the file in a way, that makes the execution of later imports faster.

  • Use Lossy Compression: Checking this can save you up to 2/3s in disc space and some people claim that there are no noticeable differences to spot. I do not use it. I would rather get another hard drive or start zipping the files that I do not currently need.
    The original idea behind this was to give event photographers a chance to save their best photos from 2-3000 of an event without loss, and another selection of good ones slightly compressed to save space.

  • Embed Original Raw File: If you are using your camera’s native Raw format, you can export it to the DNG format. In this export, you can choose to include the native Raw file into the DNG file. This choice, of course, makes your exported file much larger. However, it allows you, should the need arise, to extract the original Raw file later on. Embedding the original Raw is useful if you later decide to do some post-processing with software that does not support the DNG format.

Color Spaces
File Settings - Color Space
File Settings – Color Space
  • sRGB: The smallest of the three standard color spaces. Suitable for web publishing, as most browsers do not support other color spaces than sRGB. Some printing labs expect sRGB files as well, so check with them before you export your photos.

  • Adobe RGB: A larger color space than sRGB, which preserves some more details in the colors than sRGB. If you want to work some more on your file later, this can be a good option. 

  • ProPhoto RGB: The largest RGB color space, which preserves most of the visible color of these three color spaces. ProPhoto RGB can be another good option if you need to work more on your exported file later.

  • Other color spaces: You might notice other color spaces listed in your selection pane. Higher quality photo labs often offer you so-called ICC profiles that match your paper choice to their printer. If you install one of these, it might be listed here. These ICC profiles can support either RGB or CMYK.

Bit Depth

Determines how many bits are used to indicate the color of a single pixel. Using a higher value can give you a better transition from one hue to the next.

Image Sizing

Image Sizing Settings
Image Sizing Settings

If for some reason you would like your exported file to be smaller than your original, you can achieve this here. Now, why would you want your photo to be tinier than the original? Maybe, you want to present it on Social Media, and instead of having it cropped by them, you rather do it yourself. Alternatively, perhaps, you want to print your photo in a specific size. 
In general, enlarging your photo can cause a deterioration of its quality, so be careful with that.

To change any size settings, you need to cross off the Resize to Fit checkbox first and then select the appropriate way of resizing.


This setting is independent of the Resize to Fit checkbox. You have to specify a value depending on the usage of your exported file.

If you want to print the exported file us the printer’s resolution, in most cases 300 pixels per inch. If you are exporting for web, and especially for Social Media, a resolution of 72-75 pixels per inch is good enough. Using a lower resolution for your Social Media files and a smaller size can also prevent others from printing them in large size and good quality without your knowledge.

Yes, you can specify the resolution in pixel per centimeter as well, but to be honest pixel per inch is the standard even in the metric world so far.

Width & Height

Image Sizing - Width & Height
Image Sizing – Width & Height

You specify both the maximum width and the maximum height of your new image. If the photo is in a landscape format, the width is the defining parameter. Otherwise, the height is the defining parameter. You can specify width and height in pixel, inch, or centimeters.

Example 1: You have a photo of 6016×4000 pixels and specify a new maximum width of 1900 pixels and a new maximum height of 1000 pixels. In this case, your exported file has a dimension of 1504×1000 pixels.

Example 2: Your original photo is again 6016×4000 pixels large, however, this time you specify the maximum width of only 1000 pixels and a maximum height of 1900 pixels. In this case, the resulting photo is 1000×665 pixels large, because the original ratio is preserved.


Image Sizing - Dimensions
Image Sizing – Dimensions

As with width and height, you specify a maximum length and a maximum shot side. However, the short side determines the length of the long side.

For example, if you have a photo of 6016×4000 pixels, for which you specify a maximum length of 1000 x 1900 pixels. The first value that you have specified here (1000 pixels) is used for the short side. So the original photo’s short side of 4000 pixels equals 1000 pixels in the exported file. Based on this the new long side is calculated as follows:

\displaystyle\frac{original\; long\; side}{original\; short\; side}=\frac{export\; long\; side}{export\; short\; side}\\ \\ \frac{6016}{4000}=\frac{export\; long\; side}{1000}\;\;\|\scriptstyle{*1000} \\ \\ export\; long\; side= \frac{6016 *1000}{4000}\\ \\ export\; long\;side= \frac{6016}{4}\\ \\ export\; long\; side= 1504

Long Edge

Image Sizing - Long Edge
Image Sizing – Long Edge

You specify the length of the longest side of your image and the short side is calculated by maintaining the proportions of the original image.

For example, your Original is 15cm x 20cm, and you specify your long side to be 10cm. Then the short side is going to be 7.5 cm (old long side / new long side * old short side = new short side). You can specify the length in pixel, inch, or centimeters.

Short Edge

Image Sizing - Short Edge
Image Sizing – Short Edge

You specify the length of the shortest side of your image and the long side calculates from that. You can specify the length in pixel, inch, or centimeters.


Image Sizing - Megapixels
Image Sizing – Megapixels

You determine how many megapixels your exported image has.


Image Sizing - Percentage
Image Sizing – Percentage

You specify how large in percent from the original image your exported file is going to be. Values between 1 and 100% are possible, so enlarging is not possible, even if you do not cross off for “Don’t Enlarge.”

Output Sharpening

Export Settings - Output Sharpening
Export Settings – Output Sharpening

Depending on the medium you want to watch your photo on, you have to use some extra sharpening here. For glossy paper, you need a different amount of sharpening than for matte or screen view. However, output sharpening is no shortcut to skipping the sharpening in the Details Panel of the Develop Module. It is the final step to get the maximum effect out of your image, but it won’t save your image from motion blur or lack in depth of field.

Per medium, you can choose between Low, Standard, and High sharpening amount to be applied. Which one of them you choose is as much a matter of experience as of taste. However, if you are printing on metal or glass, you might want to try Glossy Paper with a high amount. If you are printing on Lustre paper, try to sharpen for Matte paper with a Low or Standard amount. 

To simplify: the shinier your print medium, the higher the amount of output sharpening you want to apply.  


Metadata is data about data. In this section, you decide which data about your photo you are going to store with the exported file. 

Export Settings - Metadata
Export Settings – Metadata

 The options include:

  • All Metadata: Includes everything,
  • Copyright and Contact Info Only: Excludes everything except your contact and copyright information.
  • All Except Camera Raw Info: Excludes the instructions that you applied in the Develop module of Adobe ® Lightroom
  • All Except Camera & Camera Raw Info: Excludes your exposure data, your camera information and the settings that you used in the Develop module of Adobe ® Lightroom

Additionally, you can cross off to remove Person information. In this case, the export automatically excludes keywords marked as Person data. 

Last but not least, you can choose to store the keywords as a Lightroom Hierarchy. This means, that instead of saving Keywords as “place, Europe, Germany, Lower Saxony” they would be saved as “place > Europe > Germany > Lower Saxony,” indicating that Lower Saxony indeed is a place in Germany which happens to be part of Europe.


Export Settings - Watermarking
Export Settings – Watermarking

Yes, you can add watermarks to your images in Adobe ® Lightroom. However, you do not do this in the Develop Module, nor will you be able to create Watermark graphics in Adobe ® Lightroom itself. 

What you can do is add a text or a graphic as a watermark during the export. Your original file is not changed, only the new file contains the new watermark – unless of course, you choose to overwrite the original.

Unfortunately, creating watermarks is beyond the scope of this article. However, I write an essay about it in the not too far future.


Export Settings - Post-Processing
Export Settings – Post-Processing

No, this is not where you go to open the Develop Module again to change your White Balance settings. In this section, you define if you want to open your exported file in another application once the export is complete. So in my opinion, this section should have been called “after export execute” or something similar, but well, we cannot have it all.

Your choices in the After Export Selection are:

Post-Processing After Export Selection
Post-Processing After Export Selection

Do nothing: Stores your files in the defined place and closes the Export Window. You go back into whatever Module of Adobe ® Lightroom from which you started the Export. No further actions are performed on your exported files after the export completes.

Show in Finder / Explorer: Stores your files in the defined location and then opens Finder (Mac) / Windows Explorer for that path in the foreground. The Export Window of Adobe ® Lightroom closes.

Open in Adobe Photoshop CC 2019: Once the export is complete, Adobe ® Lightroom’s Export Window closes, and the exported files are opened in Adobe ® Photoshop CC. (Even though here version 2019 is given, if a newer version is released the version number should get updated as well.)

Open in Silver Efex Pro 2: This is a software that I have installed via the so-called NIK collection, which also includes Plugins for Adobe ® Lightroom. If you do not have it installed, it does not show up in your selection list.

Open in Other Application: Allows you to specify another graphic program that opens the files once the export from Adobe ® Lightroom finishes.

Go to Export Actions Folder Now: opens the directory on your hard drive which stores actions, which per default is empty. 

In this folder, you find aliases for programs, like your email program or Adobe ® Photoshop droplets. Once these export actions exist in this directory, you see them in this selection list as well.

Open in Other Application

If you select Open in Other Application from the selection list above, the Choose button in the Post-Processing Window is activated.

Post-Processing Open in Other Application
Post-Processing Open in Other Application

You click on the Choose… button and locate the program in your Finder/Windows Explorer in which you want to open the file once the export completes.

In Finder this would look something like this:

Finder - Selecting a Program
Finder – Selecting a Program

Select the appropriate program to open your file with, and then click Choose. The Finder (or Windows Explorer) closes and your path shows as the selected Application. Once your export completes, your file opens in this software if it supports the filetype.

Starting the Export Process

Once you have made all the settings that you need, click on Export to start exporting your files. If you have selected “Choose Folder Later” in the Export Location Settings a Finder/Windows Explorer Window will open first to let you select the directory in which your exported files are stored.

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.


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