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How do I Save My Edited Photos in Lightroom?

Use Export from Lightroom to Save Photo Edits

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Export Dialog from Lightroom

Export Dialog from Lightroom | View Larger

© S. Chastain

Question: How do I Save My Edited Photos in Lightroom?

If you are new to Lightroom, you may be looking for the Save command, such as you are used to from other photo editing software. But Lightroom does not have a Save command. For this reason, we often see new Lightroom users asking the question: "How do I save the photos I have edited in Lightroom?"

Answer: 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 actually a database behind the scenes. 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 is required for its intended use.

You can export one or many files from Lightroom by making a selection and choosing "Export..." from the file menu or from the right click menu. You can also click the large "Export..." button at the bottom of the left side panel in the Develop module, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-E. However, it is not necessary that you export your edited photos until you need to use them somewhere else--to send to a printer, post online, or work with in another application.

When you do export your photos, Lightroom offers a number of options for the exported file, including format, output location, file name, size, sharpening, watermarking, and so on. If you often export files using the same criteria, you can save the settings as an Export Preset by clicking the "Add" button in the Export dialog box.

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