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Creating Email Ready Images Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Export Dialog

July 21, 2011 | | Comments 24

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Export Dialog ScreenshotLearning to harness the full potential of the Export Dialog is an important skill for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom users. I use the Export Dialog everyday to create email-ready Jpeg copies of my digital camera Raw files. This powerful Lightroom tool is the most efficient way to prepare email-ready copies of my photos whenever I need to send an image to a client, to a friend, or to Mom. With a single mouse click, the Export Dialog can create a copy of my photograph that is small enough to fit through the email pipeline and that will look good in the recipient’s Inbox!

Think of the Export Dialog is if it were a big “Save As” button. Export in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom vernacular means “to make a new copy of your photograph for a specific purpose.” The file that the Export Dialog creates for you can be assigned a new filename. The new file can be stored in a different folder and it can be saved using a different file format. In addition, there are controls in the Export Dialog that allow me to scale my images down to size that will fit nicely on my recipient’s screen.

For me, mastering this side of Lightroom is crucial because sending Raw files out via email is a disaster. Sending Raw files via email is a disaster because these files are too large–too many megabytes–to fit through the email pipeline. Even if the Raw file makes it to the recipient, there is no guarantee that their computer can display my camera’s proprietary Raw data! Small Jpeg files are the way to go for email because these will fit on any screen and they can be displayed without additional software on any device.

There is no magic here. The Export Dialog in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom cannot read your mind. Each section of this dialog needs your input. The Export Dialog will do whatever you ask but you have to fill in all of the right boxes every time! You have to key in your instructions before you use this tool or you have to select an appropriate Preset that will automatically fill in the right boxes for you.

I have recorded three video tutorials for today’s lesson on using the Export Dialog to create email-ready Jpeg files. In the first video tutorial, I demonstrate how to use the factory default “For E-Mail” Export Preset. The factory default “For E-Mail” settings are adequate but I believe that we can do better. In the second video tutorial, I explain how to control the Export Dialog’s settings so that you get higher-quality results. The third–and most advanced–tutorial explains how to save these better email settings as an Export Preset so that you do not have to key them in again and again.

The third video tutorial also demonstrates how I can connect Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and my email software together. By linking these programs together, I can literally press a single button and have Adobe Photoshop Lightroom prepare a copy of my image for email. Not only will Lightroom prepare my Jpeg files for me but it will also launch my email program, create a blank letter, and attach the image. I can press a single button in Lightroom then fill in the recipient’s email address and away it goes! The setup takes a few minutes but the payoff is amazingly efficient and it makes emailing images incredibly easy!

Preparing Files for Email Using the Factory Default Export Preset in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Better Export for Email Settings in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Building Your Own Export for Email Preset and Linking Lightroom to Your Email Program

Warning: The last trick is not going to work for everyone. Connecting Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and your email software together is a huge help for folks who use an email application like Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, or Microsoft Outlook Express. This trick–using a Post-Export action–only works if you are using an email program that lives within your computer. This trick will not work for folks who need to log into a website to compose a new mail message.

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About the Author: David Marx is a digital photography instructor whose engaging teaching style inspires photographers of all skill levels. David is an Adobe Certified Lightroom Expert. To learn more about David's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit www.davidmarx.com or follow David Marx on Google+.