How to Resize and Export Images from Lightroom

How do you make your images 2000 pixels on the long side? How do you keep images to a max of 400KB? How do you size your images for the screen? How do you size your images for printing? How do you create your own Export Preset? We see these questions come up ALL THE TIME so below is a step by step guide to take you through exactly how to resize and export your images from Lightroom.

Step One:

Select your image by clicking on it in the filmstrip, a selection of images (by holding Command on a Mac or Control on a PC and clicking on the images) or the entire filmstrip of images to export by going to Edit and then Select All. I have chosen the three highlighted images to export.

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Step Two:

Go to File and then Export to bring up the export window.

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Step Three:

In the Export Location box, you can tell Lightroom where you would like your images exported to. You can choose a specific folder from the dropdown menu, or as many photographers do (myself included), you can export them to your Hard Drive to your Desktop and then move them around to different folder locations or external hard drives later.

If you’re exporting more than one image, I recommend you create a Subfolder. This will keep all of your images together rather than scattered all over your Desktop. This step is completely optional, so if you don’t need a Subfolder just untick the box.

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Step Four:
In the File Naming box, it’s time to name your images. You can choose from the dropdown menu the format for how you’d like to name your images. I always use Custom Name for individual images and Custom Name - Sequence when I’m exporting more than one image.

You can name your files whatever you choose and whatever works for your records. If you’re using the sequence option, you can start with any number. For example, if you had exported three images earlier and want to export more to the same folder, you can start with 4 and it will go up sequentially from there.

You can see how your file names will look in the Example and make any adjustments as needed.

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Step Five:

If you don’t have any Video files to export, this box will be grayed out. If you have video files you can choose to include them by ticking the box and then choose the format and quality you would like.

In the File Settings box, you can limit the file size if you need to. Often times competitions or websites you’re uploading images to will have a maximum file size that images can be. If this is the case, tick this box and enter in the necessary value.

Leave the Image Format as JPEG, and for Colour Space, just double check that it is on sRGB. People run into problems with their images not looking right or printing poorly when this dropdown gets changed.

If you’re just exporting for a screen, you probably don’t need your Quality to be at 100. A lot of people lower it to a range between 65-85 to save space as your file size at a quality of 100 is a lot larger than at 65. Experiment with your images at different levels to see what you prefer. If you’re exporting for printing though, I would always recommend you have your Quality at 100. You may not notice it in all images, but speaking from experience, the quality will be compromised in some, and if you’re paying to print, you should always print at the best quality possible.

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Step Six:

The Image Sizing box is where you tell Lightroom what size and resolution you want your image to be. In the Resize to Fit dropdown menu you have a variety of choices to choose from including Dimensions, Width and Height, Short Edge and Long Edge. When exporting for a screen, I always use Long Edge. For my blog and other websites that I upload images to, I’m always given this figure in pixels and by entering in the Long Edge, Lightroom adjusts Short Edge automatically for you (so there is no tricky math to de done!). A range between 1600-2048 are common figures so just check with the site you are uploading to (as of 2019, Facebook recommends 2048 pixels on the longest side). You can also adjust the pixels dropdown to inches or centimetres, so just make sure you’re in pixels. When exporting for the screen, I set my Resolution to 72.

When I’m exporting to print, I don’t limit my file size so I unselect the Resize to Fit box which will gray out the pixel box. I change my resolution to 300 because this means that you can print your image at any size and you will have a high quality photo.

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Step Seven:

In the Output Sharpening box, you can have Lightroom apply additional sharpening to you image for Screen, Matte Paper or Glossy Paper. You can also choose the Amount from Low, Standard, and High. The sharpening that is applied is ON TOP of any sharpening adjustments you’ve made in the Develop Module. This is a personal choice and up to you how sharp you like your images. Experiment by exporting at the different levels and by ordering a few test prints and see what you prefer.


Step Eight:

In the Metadata box, you have a number of choices of what you can have included in the metadata of the files from the Copyright Only to All of the Metadata. Again, this is a personal choice of what you would like included, but unless asked for more information for a competition, etc I only include the Copyright & Contact Info Only on my images.

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Step Nine:

If you tick the Watermark box, you can choose from a Simple Copyright Watermark or you can Edit Watermarks where you can adjust where it is placed, what the text is, the size and opacity or you can upload your own watermark and then adjust it for the image. You can save your adjustments and title them (i.e. my logo, small right corner, big light middle, etc) and then these options will appear in the dropdown menu on all future images. If you don’t want to add a watermark, leave this box unticked.


Step Ten

In the Post-Processing box you can decide what will happen after the export from showing in Finder, Opening Photoshop or another application. I keep this at the default of Do nothing, but again this is a personal choice.


Step Eleven:

Once you’ve worked your way through the boxes, hit Export and you are done! Depending on the number of images your exporting, it will be done in a matter of a few seconds to a few minutes. You’ll find your exported images wherever you told Lightroom to put them in the very first box, Export Location.

Lightroom will always save all of your adjustments from the previous export, so the next time you need to export an image if you want the same settings as the previous export, all you’ll need to adjust is the File Naming box, saving you some time.

Step Twelve (optional):

If you find yourself making the same adjustments time and time again, you can create your own Export Preset. Once you’ve made all the adjustments you want, click on User Presets and Add. The New Preset window will pop up where you can name your preset and then create it.

When you want to use that preset for future exports, click on User Presets, choose the appropriate preset and all of your settings will be applied.

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- Jenny