Round Tripping with Lightroom - Digital Photography School

Round Tripping with Lightroom

One of the most confusing things for new Lightroom users is understanding how documents get round tripped from Lightroom to Photoshop and back.

Step 1

LR_roundtrip_step1.jpg

To start, open Lightroom with the image displayed in the Develop, Library, Slideshow or Web modules. Right click the image and choose Edit In > Adobe Photoshop.

If you chose a raw file then the image is sent direct to Photoshop.

Step 2

If you chose a jpg or tiff file, then other options are available. You can choose Edit a Copy, Edit Original or to Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments. If you want to take the changes that you’ve made to the image in Lightroom with you to Photoshop, then use the Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments option.

LR_roundtrip_step2.jpg

This is exactly what happens if you are working with a raw image – you don’t see the dialog – and the image is sent direct to Photoshop with the Lightroom adjustments in place.

Edit Original ignores any changes that you have made in Lightroom and sends the unedited original image to Photoshop.

Edit a Copy sends the image direct to Photoshop ignoring any changes you’ve made to the image in Lightroom but at the same time it creates a copy of the image so you won’t be editing your original.

Step 3

When you’ve finished editing the image in Photoshop, click File > Save to save the image.

LR_roundtrip_step3.jpg

The one thing you should avoid when saving a photo that you have taken from Lightroom to Photoshop is to rename it when you save it. If you rename an image by choosing File > Save As then the link between the image in Lightroom and Photoshop won’t be retained and the edited saved version won’t appear in Lightroom catalog. To get the image back into Lightroom you have to find it and then import it into the catalog. This is typically the step where new Lightroom users fall foul of the process and get understandably frustrated.

Step 4

When you return to Lightroom, if you were editing a raw file or if you chose to Edit a Copy, you will find your original file and the edited version in place in the Lightroom catalog. The edited version of the file is stored in the same folder as the original.

LR_roundtrip_step4.jpg

The edited version has the same file name as the original but with -edit added to it. In the case of a raw file, the edited version will be saved by default as a tiff file.

If you chose Edit Original then only the original file with its edits will appear in Lightroom.

Step 5

If you wish to do so, you can send also send an image to Photoshop as a Smart Object by right clicking it in Lightroom, choose Edit In > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.

LR_roundtrip_step5.jpg

This opens the document in Photoshop with the image on a layer converted automatically to a Smart Object. You can do this for tiff, raw and jpg images.

When you save the file it is saved as a tiff with –edit added to the filename – the tiff file format supports Photoshop Smart Objects so the Smart Object will be there when you edit the file again.

Step 6

You can determine how Lightroom sends files to Photoshop by choosing Edit > Preferences and click the External Editing tab. Here you can select the file format to be used, the color space that will be applied to the image, the bit depth, resolution and any compression available for the chosen file format.

LR_roundtrip_step6.jpg

From the foot of the dialog you can also configure the file naming convention used for files sent from Lightroom to Photoshop. By default, it will be the original file name with –Edit attached to it, although you can change this if desired.

Here too you can add other programs to the shortcut menu so you can take your images from Lightroom direct to programs such as Photoshop Elements or your favorite editor.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • http://photo.xpdm.us Marcus Griep

    You can still use Save As... and have it show up in Lightroom. I use it a lot since I don’t like flattening to a tif when I round-trip. Just don’t change the file’s name, but you can change the file type (and thus the filename extension). In this way, I save my files as PSDs, keep the layers, and it still shows up back in Lightroom.

  • http://www.alastairbellphotography.co.uk/ Yorkshire Photographer

    great article, but also remember that you can use the stacking feature in Lightroom to stack up all the different versions of the same photo instead of having to scroll through them in the library

  • http://www.savitzky.com/gallery Alex Savitzky

    Is there any way to get the -edit file to have the same attributes when it comes back into Lightroom? I am often working on a photo as part of a filtered view in Lightroom (say, only showing my flagged photos or photos marked purple). When the -edit from Photoshop comes back in I can’t see it because it isn’t flagged and marked the same.

  • http://www.sipperphotography.com Jeff Sipper

    Thanks for a great post. I’ve been doing this since Lightroom 1, and it usually works out great. I have noticed that in LR3, when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it’s metadata, and it doesn’t seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.

    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

    Jeff

  • frank codispoti

    Thank you very much. I am just getting into using both Photoshop (I have been using Elements) and Lightroom and I suspect you have saved me a great deal of agony and frustration.

  • Pam

    GREAT information – how did you know I’ve been suffering with this? Question though. Sometimes I will export and then process (just as you say to) a photo in CS4 – then to provide variety for my clients – I will process the same image a second time. (Maybe once into black and white then save, then process in full color with a texture and save again.) If I just choose “Save” both times the first one won’t appear back in lightroom – (I believe the second processing ‘covers up’ the first.) I have been choosing “Save As” and then changing the name slightly.

    How can I save more than once and not have some of the copies get lost in space never finding their way back to lightroom….??? If you can figure this out, I will be your best friend forever!~

  • http://www.DempseyWilliams.com Dempsey Williams

    How do you maintain layers between edits in Photoshop and Lightroom? I’ve seen it done but I don’t know what settings that person was using. The scenario is this: edit and save a .PSD file in Photoshop, open and make some edits/adjustments to that file in Lightroom and then open in Photoshop and still have the original layers to work with. Do you know how to get that to work? Whenever I open the file in Photoshop at the end the layers are gone.

  • http://gallery.ildica.com/ Conor Boyd

    I don’t have CS5, but if my understanding is correct, what you have outlined here is, in part, specific to CS5 (or later versions of CS anyway).

    Just suggesting you may want to clarify how specific some of this is to specific versions of CS.

    For example, you wrote:
    “This is exactly what happens if you are working with a raw image – you don’t see the dialog – and the image is sent direct to Photoshop with the Lightroom adjustments in place.”
    and
    “If you chose a raw file then the image is sent direct to Photoshop.”

    That may be correct for CS5, but with CS2 installed for example, you always see the dialog, since LR creates a TIFF and sends the TIFF to Photoshop. In other words, with CS2 at least, LR never sends a raw file direct to Photoshop.

  • http://billp545@photoshop.com Bill Powers

    Your fine and valuable feature would have been considerably more important–and had far more readers–if you used Photoshop’s Elements X program instead of the Creative Suites program. Maybe when Lightroom 4 comes out in two years you can give the readers a Lightroom to Elements back to Lightroom lesson (something I sure wish you had done this time.)

  • http://qixotic-imagery.com Richard Haber

    Regarding the warning in step 3, I have just edited a .dng in Photoshop and did a ‘save as’ to as .psd file and there it is in Lightroom, stacked with the original with its new name. I had been doing this since LR2, but wanted to make sure before replying.

  • http://www.theartfulcrafter.com/ Eileen

    Thank you for these great basic tips. Also several of the comments are very helpful.

    I’m new to LR and have made just about every beginner’s mistake you mentioned!

  • Liz Douglas

    Thank You so much. I’m new to Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom and any information on them is greatly appreciated.

  • http://www.sarahfionahelme.com Sarah

    I’ve just started with LR 3 and CS4 after previously using PSE 6. I’m confused by the round-tripping between LR and PS and saving copies. My previous workflow would be to editing a photo in PSE and save as a Tiff/Jpeg etc, but I would always rename the RAW original with the same name I decide to use for the edited Tiff/Jpeg.

    As I start out with LR & CS4 my natural sense is to begin with LR adjustments, then open in CS4 where I want to save my edit with a new name. I then want to rename my original RAW file to tally with the edited file.

    How can I do this?

    Thanks!

  • Krysphotography

    I have noticed that in LR3, when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it’s metadata, and it doesn’t seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.

    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

  • Krys

    Hi,when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it’s metadata, and it doesn’t seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.
    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

  • Liz Finnie

    Hi, I thought I would try out the Topaz bundle on special by downloading the trial version first. When working directly in Lightroom, I find that the effects created in Topaz cannot be seen in my Lightroom3 after clicking OK although the newly created copy is showing (i.e. but it shows no alteration). However, the changes are visible in the copy found in Windows Explorer. Am I missing a setting? I also wonder if the Topaz plug-in in use can remain available without disappearing eachtime one clicks OK? Is there a short-cut to call it back again without going to Photo — edit in*** — etc. in the LR menu? All changes imported into LR show if I applied the filters in Elements7 first. Your help would be much appreciated as I have only encountered Topaz filters today for the first time.

  • sal4gal

    Thank you! I am so glad to know that I am not alone in my confusion! This helps so much.

Some older comments

  • sal4gal

    October 26, 2012 07:23 am

    Thank you! I am so glad to know that I am not alone in my confusion! This helps so much.

  • Liz Finnie

    December 16, 2010 07:26 pm

    Hi, I thought I would try out the Topaz bundle on special by downloading the trial version first. When working directly in Lightroom, I find that the effects created in Topaz cannot be seen in my Lightroom3 after clicking OK although the newly created copy is showing (i.e. but it shows no alteration). However, the changes are visible in the copy found in Windows Explorer. Am I missing a setting? I also wonder if the Topaz plug-in in use can remain available without disappearing eachtime one clicks OK? Is there a short-cut to call it back again without going to Photo -- edit in*** -- etc. in the LR menu? All changes imported into LR show if I applied the filters in Elements7 first. Your help would be much appreciated as I have only encountered Topaz filters today for the first time.

  • Krys

    October 29, 2010 11:46 am

    Hi,when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it’s metadata, and it doesn’t seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.
    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

  • Krysphotography

    October 29, 2010 10:02 am

    I have noticed that in LR3, when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it’s metadata, and it doesn’t seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.

    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

  • Sarah

    July 12, 2010 09:47 pm

    I’ve just started with LR 3 and CS4 after previously using PSE 6. I’m confused by the round-tripping between LR and PS and saving copies. My previous workflow would be to editing a photo in PSE and save as a Tiff/Jpeg etc, but I would always rename the RAW original with the same name I decide to use for the edited Tiff/Jpeg.

    As I start out with LR & CS4 my natural sense is to begin with LR adjustments, then open in CS4 where I want to save my edit with a new name. I then want to rename my original RAW file to tally with the edited file.

    How can I do this?

    Thanks!

  • Liz Douglas

    June 27, 2010 05:03 am

    Thank You so much. I'm new to Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom and any information on them is greatly appreciated.

  • Eileen

    June 26, 2010 01:36 am

    Thank you for these great basic tips. Also several of the comments are very helpful.

    I'm new to LR and have made just about every beginner's mistake you mentioned!

  • Richard Haber

    June 25, 2010 12:26 pm

    Regarding the warning in step 3, I have just edited a .dng in Photoshop and did a 'save as' to as .psd file and there it is in Lightroom, stacked with the original with its new name. I had been doing this since LR2, but wanted to make sure before replying.

  • Bill Powers

    June 25, 2010 11:14 am

    Your fine and valuable feature would have been considerably more important--and had far more readers--if you used Photoshop's Elements X program instead of the Creative Suites program. Maybe when Lightroom 4 comes out in two years you can give the readers a Lightroom to Elements back to Lightroom lesson (something I sure wish you had done this time.)

  • Conor Boyd

    June 25, 2010 10:22 am

    I don't have CS5, but if my understanding is correct, what you have outlined here is, in part, specific to CS5 (or later versions of CS anyway).

    Just suggesting you may want to clarify how specific some of this is to specific versions of CS.

    For example, you wrote:
    "This is exactly what happens if you are working with a raw image – you don’t see the dialog – and the image is sent direct to Photoshop with the Lightroom adjustments in place."
    and
    "If you chose a raw file then the image is sent direct to Photoshop."

    That may be correct for CS5, but with CS2 installed for example, you always see the dialog, since LR creates a TIFF and sends the TIFF to Photoshop. In other words, with CS2 at least, LR never sends a raw file direct to Photoshop.

  • Dempsey Williams

    June 25, 2010 09:38 am

    How do you maintain layers between edits in Photoshop and Lightroom? I've seen it done but I don't know what settings that person was using. The scenario is this: edit and save a .PSD file in Photoshop, open and make some edits/adjustments to that file in Lightroom and then open in Photoshop and still have the original layers to work with. Do you know how to get that to work? Whenever I open the file in Photoshop at the end the layers are gone.

  • Pam

    June 25, 2010 05:18 am

    GREAT information - how did you know I've been suffering with this? Question though. Sometimes I will export and then process (just as you say to) a photo in CS4 - then to provide variety for my clients - I will process the same image a second time. (Maybe once into black and white then save, then process in full color with a texture and save again.) If I just choose "Save" both times the first one won't appear back in lightroom - (I believe the second processing 'covers up' the first.) I have been choosing "Save As" and then changing the name slightly.

    How can I save more than once and not have some of the copies get lost in space never finding their way back to lightroom....??? If you can figure this out, I will be your best friend forever!~

  • frank codispoti

    June 25, 2010 04:14 am

    Thank you very much. I am just getting into using both Photoshop (I have been using Elements) and Lightroom and I suspect you have saved me a great deal of agony and frustration.

  • Jeff Sipper

    June 25, 2010 04:08 am

    Thanks for a great post. I've been doing this since Lightroom 1, and it usually works out great. I have noticed that in LR3, when I make the round trip, the newly made PSD or TIFF seems to lose it's metadata, and it doesn't seem to drop the edited file back in next to the RAW like it has in previous versions.

    Am I missing something? The file does show up in the Folder the original is in, but, not when I click on the keyword in the keyword list.

    Jeff

  • Alex Savitzky

    June 25, 2010 02:25 am

    Is there any way to get the -edit file to have the same attributes when it comes back into Lightroom? I am often working on a photo as part of a filtered view in Lightroom (say, only showing my flagged photos or photos marked purple). When the -edit from Photoshop comes back in I can't see it because it isn't flagged and marked the same.

  • Yorkshire Photographer

    June 25, 2010 02:04 am

    great article, but also remember that you can use the stacking feature in Lightroom to stack up all the different versions of the same photo instead of having to scroll through them in the library

  • Marcus Griep

    June 25, 2010 01:23 am

    You can still use Save As... and have it show up in Lightroom. I use it a lot since I don't like flattening to a tif when I round-trip. Just don't change the file's name, but you can change the file type (and thus the filename extension). In this way, I save my files as PSDs, keep the layers, and it still shows up back in Lightroom.

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