Using Lightroom's 'edit in photoshop' feature - Digital Photography School

Using Lightroom’s ‘edit in photoshop’ feature

I think my heart must’ve skipped a little beat when I happened to catch that ‘edit in > photoshop’ option when I was first getting to know and love Lightroom. This was also the same time at which I was falling in love with layer editing, applying textures and other ways to fab up your photos in Photoshop. And even though LR doesn’t have all the capabilities of PS, you can have the best of both worlds with this feature.

There’s a video below to actually show you how to use ‘edit in photoshop’ in LR3, but if you’re already pretty sure about what you’re doing in LR, here are the steps:

  1. Right click on your image and select ‘edit in > photoshop’. It will allow you to select from whatever PS version(s) you have installed, for example mine lets me choose PS4 or PSE.
  2. Your image will open in Photoshop. Now, these are very speed/space hogging programs. Your computer might not be configured to run both programs side-by-side but give it a go and see what happens!
  3. Edit away. When you’re done, just click ‘save’ and then when you toggle back to LR, it’ll be there!

Note: I’ve experimented a bit to see if there’s a way to do this and save on space by closing down LR as soon as the image opens in PS. It seems that you have to actually have both programs running side-by-side for the image to pop up when you toggle back into LR after the edit.


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Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • Martin C

    what you can do also is select more than one photo and open as layers inside one PS document.

  • Sondra

    I just saw this the other day and I squealed with excitement! I’m so used to PS, and have recently started using LR, but always had to export and save the file, then edit in PS…then I saw this! Love it!!!

  • http://sweetoothdesigns.yolasite.com Lynet Witty

    I discovered this feature and was not surprised. If they didn’t have this, I would have said “what the hell adobe!!?!” and be pissed….I mean, it’s obvious right?!

  • http://www.essl.de Dirk Essl

    And if you need more choices you can use my External Application Chooser:
    http://www.essl.de/wp/2008/03/21/external-application-chooser-for-adobe-lightroom
    enjoy!

  • Martin C

    These articles really suprise me in that I can’t believe that people using LR don;t know what they have got. LR is a very powerful photo inhanceing sofware on its own and when used to its full potential there is no real need to use PS. What do people use LR for it bothers me that people don’t learn what the software does and can do.

  • http://www.lightshootedit.com scott detweiler

    I am a bigger fan of “Open As Smart Object” in case you want to make additional changes using the already familiar settings available in lightroom, but from Photoshop. Once you are happy you can rasterize it, but I often do that to a layer copy so I can always fall-back to camera raw if I have a change.

    –www.lightshootedit.com

  • http://www.jmphotographyonline.ca jay mcintyre

    Just a note too, it opens the file as a TIFF unless you switch to 8bits per channel.

  • Jan

    Is there any reason why I would save as TIFF or is it always better to save as PSD?

  • WBC

    Aside from Martin C’s first comment above, there is nothing to this article. The entire article is how to click on it in the menu.

    I liked some of your other contributions, which while short, had some useful nuggets buried in them. So I do appreciate your contributions and thank you for those.

  • speedy

    “you can have the best of both worlds with this feature” …

    … and after you buy Photoshop. :-)

  • http://www.clickthegoodnews.com/ AmandaD

    This is a lovely feature & was working just swell with PSE, but when I installed CS5- the feature stopped working. I can right click on a photo in LR, select Edit in CS5, the CS5 program opens & then NOTHING. Is this feature broken for anybody else?

  • Kevin

    Uhhhh…..CTRL+E you’re welcome

  • Matt

    Does dPs pay contributors to submit articles? If so, I am thinking of writing one on how to press the D key on the keyboard to switch to the Develop module in Lightroom.

  • http://www.flickr.com/richtpt Richtpt

    I do this all the time, especially for stitching photos together for panoramas. It’s so cool and easy!!

  • http://www.digitalnoisephoto.com Lou Wheeler

    Using the Save command from Photoshop while editing a “from Lightroom” photo will automatically link that edit to the original RAW/DNG file. If I remember correctly Save As… will not do this.

    And yes, you have to have LR open when in PS, it passes data back along through into LR to associate the edit with the original, it’s not a drive scan function–that will merely make the image show up in your Folder view, non-associated with the original.

    Also: Matt’s comment was hilarious. :D

  • http://elizabethhalford.com Elizabeth Halford

    Some people are just learning lightroom. And yes, this tutorial is short because the steps are few but I had to figure it out myself and dPS is about photographers sharing what they had to learn on their own so others don’t have to.

  • http://www.leahhillphotography.com Leah Hill

    For some reason when I edit in Photoshop from Lightroom the newly edited photos do not automatically import back into Lightroom when I save them and go back to Lightroom. I assume I have a setting messed up, but am having a hard time figuring out what it is or how to fix it via the Adobe website. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

  • Nikki

    Oh how I wish I had LR3! LR2 doesn’t have this feature (unless I just can’t find it.)

  • http://www.digitalnoisephoto.com Lou Wheeler

    @ Leah – are you using the Save command, or doing Save As, or Save For Web?

    @ Nikki – If I’m not mistaken, LR2 has this feature as well–although if I remember correctly, you right-click on the image and choose Edit… (or Edit In… can’t remember) which is a flyout with your editors as choices–of which Photoshop should be one of them. I’m about to go hop on my laptop with LR2 and verify this.

  • http://www.digitalnoisephoto.com Lou Wheeler

    @Nikki – Just as I’d believe, it’s in a flyout menu. See the screenshot:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15337192/Screenshot%20-%201_30_2011%20%2C%207_27_04%20PM.png

  • http://www.leahhillphotography.com Leah Hill

    @Lou, I am just using Save. It’s strange b/c it used to pull directly back into LR, but for some reason now I have to go to Import, nav to the folder and it will show any of my edited images that need to be re-imported.

  • http://www.michaelkalman.net Michael K

    LR2 definately has it – I use this feature regularly in my 2.7 install.

    Right Click on the image->Edit In->Photoshop

  • http://thephotogeek.com/lightroom Matt Dawson

    @AmandaD, I don’t have CS5 installed so can’t confirm whether installing it breaks the association with Photoshop Elements. But I have written an Elemental Lightroom plugin that provides integration with PSE. It would give you a way to work around such a problem and at the same time would bring the level of product integration closer to what is discussed in this article.

  • http://thephotogeek.com/lightroom Matt Dawson

    Sorry, that link was broken. Try Elemental instead. Apologies.

  • http://www.tenisoakley.net Tenis Oakley

    I really wish had a LR3 ! Like Nikki said above, LR2 doesn’t have this feature, and I try find but also can’t find it.

  • Bonnie lou

    When I select more than one photo in Lightroom 3 to edit in CS5, only one photo comes up on photoshop. This is true on my laptop as well, so I am assuming there is a setting somewhere that I missed? I have seen, on other Mac computers that one can easily open multiple photos? Does anyone know?

  • drew

    Hmm… this is not my experience. Any time I use the “Edit in > photoshop” function, then save as a new PSD file, nothing makes it to light room. I have to go back through file>import>select folder, select photos,>import then manually add the photos to each collection again. How do you get it do do this automatically?

  • Tim

    I’ve been using this feature for some time, and came across this thread when searching for an answer to something that has me baffled:

    Normally, when I save the newly edited (and previously imported from LR) image in PS, it imports the new edited version in LR *right next to* the original in the collection that I’m currently working in.

    However, sometimes, it starts kicking the new image from PS to the *back* (or, “the end”, if you will) of the collection in LR.

    Obviously, this isn’t the end of the world, but I’m wasting a ton of time clicking back into grid view, then selecting this image at the end of the collection, and dragging it up, scrolling up, dragging further, scrolling more, dragging more…etc until it is back to being placed next to the original.

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why sometimes it pops it right next to the original, while others it puts it at the end. It’s driving me nuts, especially because I do everything the same way every time.
    Then, to make it more confusing it just now started doing it while I was in the midst of the same photo editing session (which is to say the last image that I saved back to LR was placed at the end, while the previous one before that was placed next to the original. I did nothing to change anything other than clicking over to spend a few minutes on some emails before returning to editing).

    If anybody else has experienced it and knows how to make it stop, I’d really appreciate the help, thanks!

  • JBD

    @Tim
    This happens to me too, and drives me crazy as well. The only thing I can think has happened is it has defaulted the “sort” order to timeline (instead of filename, which I prefer”. So whenever this occurs out of the blue for me, I go to the library module, go to photo—view—sort and change the sort order the filename. That places the edited photos back beside the original photos. Until it happens again!

    Jen

  • Tim

    Jen, YOU ARE HEROIC.
    Thank you!! This most certainly sets things right and makes things easier….until, like you said, next time!
    But I certainly don’t mind a quick little click to reset the sorting and I’ll no longer bang my head against the wall attempting to figure it out. Thank you!
    cheers.

  • http://www.mikekear.com Mike

    That’s great, thanks.
    Do you know how when you edit in PS through LR3 how you can go back and edit the image again and adjust some of the layers in PS? When I try and edit an image for the second time in PS all I get is a flat tiff file.
    Many thanks any advice.

  • Daniel

    Can LR 4.1 send a movie file for editing (Edit In feature) to PRE (Premiere Elements)?
    It is grayed out for me and I was told it does not work which makes no sense.

  • http://www.alanfrenchphotography.com Alan

    I really like this feature, also, but was wondering if someone could help me with a problem. When in LR3 I click edit in PS5 the photo does open and i edit it. When I save the photo (using just “save” and not “save as”) it puts it back in LR3 as a .TIFF file, so now I have duplicate files (a .NEF and a .TIFF). I would rather it just be an edit of the original RAW file. Am I doing something wrong, or do I have a setting wrong in one of the programs? Thanks in advance for any help.

  • http://www.OrianaPhotography.com/ Oriana Photography

    Thanks for this post. Do you have any tips on tiff file size? I use the same process: lightroom plus “edit in photoshop” for select images. Then I hit save in photoshop and the image is stored in the lightroom catalog as a tiff. BUT, the tiff files are humongous, some are a whole GB. Any tips appreciated!

  • jwildman16

    Did you ever find a solution for this? I often merge the layers or flatten the image, which cuts down on size somewhat, but they are still very large.

Some older comments

  • Alan

    October 1, 2012 09:37 pm

    I really like this feature, also, but was wondering if someone could help me with a problem. When in LR3 I click edit in PS5 the photo does open and i edit it. When I save the photo (using just "save" and not "save as") it puts it back in LR3 as a .TIFF file, so now I have duplicate files (a .NEF and a .TIFF). I would rather it just be an edit of the original RAW file. Am I doing something wrong, or do I have a setting wrong in one of the programs? Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Daniel

    August 22, 2012 05:39 am

    Can LR 4.1 send a movie file for editing (Edit In feature) to PRE (Premiere Elements)?
    It is grayed out for me and I was told it does not work which makes no sense.

  • Mike

    March 30, 2012 02:41 am

    That's great, thanks.
    Do you know how when you edit in PS through LR3 how you can go back and edit the image again and adjust some of the layers in PS? When I try and edit an image for the second time in PS all I get is a flat tiff file.
    Many thanks any advice.

  • Tim

    March 19, 2012 07:22 am

    Jen, YOU ARE HEROIC.
    Thank you!! This most certainly sets things right and makes things easier....until, like you said, next time!
    But I certainly don't mind a quick little click to reset the sorting and I'll no longer bang my head against the wall attempting to figure it out. Thank you!
    cheers.

  • JBD

    March 17, 2012 05:14 am

    @Tim
    This happens to me too, and drives me crazy as well. The only thing I can think has happened is it has defaulted the "sort" order to timeline (instead of filename, which I prefer". So whenever this occurs out of the blue for me, I go to the library module, go to photo---view---sort and change the sort order the filename. That places the edited photos back beside the original photos. Until it happens again!

    Jen

  • Tim

    February 14, 2012 09:05 am

    I've been using this feature for some time, and came across this thread when searching for an answer to something that has me baffled:

    Normally, when I save the newly edited (and previously imported from LR) image in PS, it imports the new edited version in LR *right next to* the original in the collection that I'm currently working in.

    However, sometimes, it starts kicking the new image from PS to the *back* (or, "the end", if you will) of the collection in LR.

    Obviously, this isn't the end of the world, but I'm wasting a ton of time clicking back into grid view, then selecting this image at the end of the collection, and dragging it up, scrolling up, dragging further, scrolling more, dragging more...etc until it is back to being placed next to the original.

    For the life of me, I can't figure out why sometimes it pops it right next to the original, while others it puts it at the end. It's driving me nuts, especially because I do everything the same way every time.
    Then, to make it more confusing it just now started doing it while I was in the midst of the same photo editing session (which is to say the last image that I saved back to LR was placed at the end, while the previous one before that was placed next to the original. I did nothing to change anything other than clicking over to spend a few minutes on some emails before returning to editing).

    If anybody else has experienced it and knows how to make it stop, I'd really appreciate the help, thanks!

  • drew

    February 6, 2012 02:26 am

    Hmm... this is not my experience. Any time I use the "Edit in > photoshop" function, then save as a new PSD file, nothing makes it to light room. I have to go back through file>import>select folder, select photos,>import then manually add the photos to each collection again. How do you get it do do this automatically?

  • Bonnie lou

    June 4, 2011 02:56 pm

    When I select more than one photo in Lightroom 3 to edit in CS5, only one photo comes up on photoshop. This is true on my laptop as well, so I am assuming there is a setting somewhere that I missed? I have seen, on other Mac computers that one can easily open multiple photos? Does anyone know?

  • Tenis Oakley

    February 12, 2011 01:14 pm

    I really wish had a LR3 ! Like Nikki said above, LR2 doesn’t have this feature, and I try find but also can’t find it.

  • Matt Dawson

    February 4, 2011 08:34 pm

    Sorry, that link was broken. Try Elemental instead. Apologies.

  • Matt Dawson

    February 4, 2011 08:31 pm

    @AmandaD, I don't have CS5 installed so can't confirm whether installing it breaks the association with Photoshop Elements. But I have written an Elemental Lightroom plugin that provides integration with PSE. It would give you a way to work around such a problem and at the same time would bring the level of product integration closer to what is discussed in this article.

  • Michael K

    February 4, 2011 11:45 am

    LR2 definately has it - I use this feature regularly in my 2.7 install.

    Right Click on the image->Edit In->Photoshop

  • Leah Hill

    February 1, 2011 03:31 am

    @Lou, I am just using Save. It's strange b/c it used to pull directly back into LR, but for some reason now I have to go to Import, nav to the folder and it will show any of my edited images that need to be re-imported.

  • Lou Wheeler

    January 31, 2011 02:31 pm

    @Nikki - Just as I'd believe, it's in a flyout menu. See the screenshot:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15337192/Screenshot%20-%201_30_2011%20%2C%207_27_04%20PM.png

  • Lou Wheeler

    January 31, 2011 02:22 pm

    @ Leah - are you using the Save command, or doing Save As, or Save For Web?

    @ Nikki - If I'm not mistaken, LR2 has this feature as well--although if I remember correctly, you right-click on the image and choose Edit... (or Edit In... can't remember) which is a flyout with your editors as choices--of which Photoshop should be one of them. I'm about to go hop on my laptop with LR2 and verify this.

  • Nikki

    January 30, 2011 06:11 am

    Oh how I wish I had LR3! LR2 doesn't have this feature (unless I just can't find it.)

  • Leah Hill

    January 29, 2011 02:33 am

    For some reason when I edit in Photoshop from Lightroom the newly edited photos do not automatically import back into Lightroom when I save them and go back to Lightroom. I assume I have a setting messed up, but am having a hard time figuring out what it is or how to fix it via the Adobe website. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

  • Elizabeth Halford

    January 28, 2011 06:42 pm

    Some people are just learning lightroom. And yes, this tutorial is short because the steps are few but I had to figure it out myself and dPS is about photographers sharing what they had to learn on their own so others don’t have to.

  • Lou Wheeler

    January 28, 2011 01:37 pm

    Using the Save command from Photoshop while editing a "from Lightroom" photo will automatically link that edit to the original RAW/DNG file. If I remember correctly Save As... will not do this.

    And yes, you have to have LR open when in PS, it passes data back along through into LR to associate the edit with the original, it's not a drive scan function--that will merely make the image show up in your Folder view, non-associated with the original.

    Also: Matt's comment was hilarious. :D

  • Richtpt

    January 28, 2011 12:33 pm

    I do this all the time, especially for stitching photos together for panoramas. It's so cool and easy!!

  • Matt

    January 28, 2011 11:14 am

    Does dPs pay contributors to submit articles? If so, I am thinking of writing one on how to press the D key on the keyboard to switch to the Develop module in Lightroom.

  • Kevin

    January 28, 2011 09:45 am

    Uhhhh.....CTRL+E you're welcome

  • AmandaD

    January 28, 2011 09:43 am

    This is a lovely feature & was working just swell with PSE, but when I installed CS5- the feature stopped working. I can right click on a photo in LR, select Edit in CS5, the CS5 program opens & then NOTHING. Is this feature broken for anybody else?

  • speedy

    January 28, 2011 09:41 am

    "you can have the best of both worlds with this feature" ...

    ... and after you buy Photoshop. :-)

  • WBC

    January 28, 2011 09:31 am

    Aside from Martin C's first comment above, there is nothing to this article. The entire article is how to click on it in the menu.

    I liked some of your other contributions, which while short, had some useful nuggets buried in them. So I do appreciate your contributions and thank you for those.

  • Jan

    January 28, 2011 08:56 am

    Is there any reason why I would save as TIFF or is it always better to save as PSD?

  • jay mcintyre

    January 28, 2011 08:40 am

    Just a note too, it opens the file as a TIFF unless you switch to 8bits per channel.

  • scott detweiler

    January 28, 2011 08:17 am

    I am a bigger fan of "Open As Smart Object" in case you want to make additional changes using the already familiar settings available in lightroom, but from Photoshop. Once you are happy you can rasterize it, but I often do that to a layer copy so I can always fall-back to camera raw if I have a change.

    --www.lightshootedit.com

  • Martin C

    January 28, 2011 08:04 am

    These articles really suprise me in that I can't believe that people using LR don;t know what they have got. LR is a very powerful photo inhanceing sofware on its own and when used to its full potential there is no real need to use PS. What do people use LR for it bothers me that people don't learn what the software does and can do.

  • Dirk Essl

    January 28, 2011 07:13 am

    And if you need more choices you can use my External Application Chooser:
    http://www.essl.de/wp/2008/03/21/external-application-chooser-for-adobe-lightroom
    enjoy!

  • Lynet Witty

    January 28, 2011 07:11 am

    I discovered this feature and was not surprised. If they didn't have this, I would have said "what the hell adobe!!?!" and be pissed....I mean, it's obvious right?!

  • Sondra

    January 28, 2011 07:01 am

    I just saw this the other day and I squealed with excitement! I'm so used to PS, and have recently started using LR, but always had to export and save the file, then edit in PS...then I saw this! Love it!!!

  • Martin C

    January 28, 2011 07:00 am

    what you can do also is select more than one photo and open as layers inside one PS document.

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