Lightroom export settings can be very confusing at first, so in this tutorial you’ll learn about Lightroom exporting for:
If you’re not a Lightroom user, you’ll still find this helpful as I’ve included information on resizing images for web and social media.
Photographers complain that “Facebook crunched my photo” or just basically ruined the image quality. Use the correct Lightroom export settings to avoid wrecking image quality.
To avoid the Facebook crunch, keep on reading to find out:
- How to export images from Lightroom for Facebook
- Including Facebook image sizes
And while we’re on the subject of Lightroom export settings for social media, let’s not forget Instagram. How could we as photographers?!
So I’ve also included information on Lightroom exporting for Instagram.
No more poor quality images on Facebook or Instagram!
I’ll also show you how to export a RAW file from Lightroom.
But before we can get to the exporting stage, we first need to select images for exporting.
Selecting images for exporting from Lightroom
There are a number of ways to select images, either individually or multiple images at once.
Selecting a single image
Let’s start with the easiest option of just one image. Click on the image then:
Right click and select Export from the menu to bring up the export dialogue box
Click File from the menu on top and select Export from the menu to bring up the export dialogue box
Click the Export box in the lower left to bring up the export dialogue box
The same steps apply whether you’re in the Library Module or Develop Module, except for the last one. There’s no option to click on an Export box in the Develop Module.
Selecting multiple images
To select several images at once you can either:
- Click the first image
- Hold down shift
- Click the last image
Or to select several images that aren’t next to each other:
- Click the first image
- Hold down Command (Apple) or Control (Windows)
- Select each image you want to export
Once you’ve selected your images there are 3 ways to bring up the export dialogue box in both the Library Module and the Develop Module. They are:
- Right click, then select Export in the pop up menu
- Select File from the menu bar on top, then select Export in the pop up menu
- Use a keyboard shortcut. In windows this is Ctrl Shift E and on a Mac it is Cmd Shift E.
In the Library Module there’s a fourth option to bring up the Export Dialog Box:
- Click the Export Box in the bottom left corner.
Quick exporting trick
Here’s a really quick way to export additional images to the same destination you’ve just used.
- Select Export with Previous.
This skips the dialog box and exports images in exactly the same way as the previous time you did it. To do this:
- Click File in the top menu bar or
- Right click
The Lightroom Export Dialog Box
Okay, so now that we know how to select the images for exporting from Lightroom and how to bring up the Export Dialog box, let’s look at how we export Lightroom images for:
- Online use – social media and websites
Where to save your photos when you export from Lightroom
The first part of the Export Dialog box is a really important step in maintaining an organised workflow. I won’t go into that in detail in this tutorial, but you can find out more here.
Further reading: The best way to organize photos, starting with file naming
The great thing though is that you can set User Presets for the types of images you use most.
For example I have presets for Facebook, Instagram, this website and for printing.
They’re really easy to set up once you’ve decided on your export settings for a particular purpose. After filling in the export Dialog box, simply:
- click Add at the bottom right
- then give your preset a name
- leave the default folder set to User Presets
- and click Create
Now every time you want to export to Facebook, for example, all you have to do is click your preset. Such a time saver!
But we’re jumping ahead. Let’s start at the beginning.
At the very top, under Export To, click on Hard Drive.
- Select Specific Folder from the Export To dropdown menu
- Click the Choose button and select the folder you want to save to
- Leave other tick boxes unchecked
- Under Existing Files select Ask what to do in the dropdown menu
A few standard Lightroom export settings I use
There are a few settings I won’t mention and they will be the same for all the Lightroom export settings I advise for online use and print.
Under File Settings:
- Image Format – JPEG
- Color Space – sRGB
The only time this changes is for exporting RAW images from Lightroom, which I’ll mention at the end.
I set this to Copyright Only
In the After Export dropdown menu I select Do nothing.
Lightroom export settings for social media and websites
Use low resolution files for online use – this is really important when resizing images for web.
Low resolution doesn’t mean that the quality will be bad. The only time quality is affected on social media is when you’ve used the wrong settings and Facebook or Instagram etc have to compress the image for you.
You don’t want social media sites compressing your images. That’s when you end up posting photos that look so much worse than the photos on your computer.
For resizing images for web your Pixels per Inch (PPI) should be set to 72 for low resolution images.
Okay, now let’s get into the exact Lightroom export settings for Facebook, Instagram and websites.
Lightroom exporting for Facebook
As I said, Facebook is notorious for compressing images to the point of an ugly mess! Here’s what you need to do to avoid that.
Set the quality to 80.
Image Sizing settings:
- Select Resize to Fit
- Choose Long Edge from the drop down menu
- Choose Pixels from the next drop down menu
- And then put in 1200
- Select Pixels per Inch from the drop down menu
- And enter 72 as the resolution
- Tick the Sharpen box
- Select Screen from the dropdown menu
- And set the amount to Standard
Don’t be tempted to set it to high as a way of sharpening an unsharp image. An out of focus image, or one with blur as the result of camera shake or subject movement, cannot be fixed this way.
If you want to you can set a watermark here. You’ll see from The Lens Lounge Facebook page and group that I don’t use watermarks for Facebook.
A watermark won’t protect your image from a thief as it’s too easy to remove in Photoshop.
If you do want a watermark, don’t make it so big that it ruins the image.
For my photography business I’ll put a watermark on Facebook images purely as a way to get my name out there. Even then it’s always towards the bottom left of the image and doesn’t intrude on the image.
Further reading: Lightroom watermark tips, tricks & myths
Lightroom exporting for Instagram
The only difference between Facebook and Instagram export settings is under Image Sizing.
This I set to export at 1080 on the longest side, regardless of whether it’s for a square, landscape or portrait image.
Try resizing images in Lightroom using the relevant preset size before exporting them. This way you can easily resize images for Instagram images. These preset sizes are:
- Square – 1 x 1
- Portrait or landscape – 4 x 5 or 8 x 10
I don’t watermark Instagram images.
Lightroom exporting for websites
Resizing images in Lightroom for websites is very similar to resizing for Instagram and Facebook.
The main difference is that the image size will vary according to where in the website you want to use it. I also change the file name so that the image is exported with a suitable description as the file name.
You have the option to set a Custom Name or Custom Name – Sequence if you’re exporting several images at once with the same name.
Remember to start the numbering at 1.
I mainly use 2000 pixels on the longest side for large, full width images. Images for my blog posts, like this one, are 800 pixels on the longest side.
Like with Instagram and Facebook images, crop to the correct aspect ratio before exporting. In other words decide on the shape you want first – square, rectangle, panoramic etc.
For my websites I set the quality to 100 in the File Settings box.
Lightroom exporting for print
Printing photos requires high resolution images and this can be adjusted under Image Sizing
When exporting from Lightroom for print the Pixels Per Inch setting (PPI) needs to be 300 to export a high resolution file.
Next, if you want to specify a size, your choices are:
I say if, because you can leave the Resize to Fit box unticked and simply input a resolution of 300ppi. This way the image can be printed to any size without losing quality. However, it’s also a very large file, which is why it can be a good idea to specify a size.
Where you are in the world will dictate either inches or centimeters. Here in the UK all printing is in inches, which was a “fun” learning curve for me at first.
I’ve never set the print size using pixels.
This depends on your lab. Some professional print labs apply sharpening their end, some don’t. So check with your lab before sending off files for prints.
For consumer print labs you’ll need to add sharpening. Be careful not to go mad on the sharpening. It can easily look overdone, which detracts from the image.
I’d advise using low rather than standard sharpening.
Also, you have a choice to sharpen for:
- Matte Paper
- Glossy Paper
Further reading: How to make a photo book in 7 steps with the Lightroom book module
Resizing images for social media
Facebook image sizes
I get asked a lot, “What size image should I export for Facebook?”
There are two image sizes that you need to know for posting on Facebook. They are:
- Facebook image post size – 1200 x 900 pixels
- Facebook image link size – 1200 x 628 pixels
Resizing images for Instagram
And I get asked just as often, “What size image should I export for Instagram?”
- Square Instagram image size – 1080 x 1080
- Vertical Instagram image size – 1080 x 864
- Landscape Instagram image size – 864 x 1080
It’s as easy as that!
How to export RAW photos from Lightroom
In the export dialog box scroll down to File Settings and click on the Image Format box, then select Original. Your photo will be saved as a .dng file.
Further reading: Shooting RAW vs JPEG image quality pros and cons
Summary of resizing images and Lightroom export settings
- Make sure you have a filing system set up before you start exporting from Lightroom
- JPEG is the most common file format for print and online use
- 72ppi for low resolution
- 300ppi for high resolution
- Don’t go mad on sharpening, but do use it
- Set the image using the longest side
- Images measurements can be in pixels, inches or centimeters
- Pay close attention to image size and resolution for online use
- Save yourself time – set up User Presets for exporting from Lightroom
Further reading: 7 reasons every photographer should use Lightroom
Exciting batch exporting in the June 2020 Lightroom Classic update
As of June 2020, simply by selecting your different export presets, you can now batch export a photo:
- in different sizes
- to different locations
- with different names
So instead of exporting for Facebook, then repeating the processing and using your preset to export to Instagram or your website, for example, you can do it all at once!
Such a time saver!
Find out more about batch exporting here:
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