Lightroom allows you to open and edit your photos in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or another photo-editing application. Lightroom automatically uses Photoshop or Photoshop Elements as the external editor if you have either application installed on your computer. You can also specify an external editor in Lightroom preferences.

When you open a photo from Lightroom directly in Photoshop CS3 or later, you have several options. You can edit the photo in its current format, or open it as a Smart Object. You can also merge a series of shots into a panorama, merge to HDR, or open two or more photos as one layered image in Photoshop. When you save edits to a photo in Photoshop, Lightroom automatically imports the new photo into the catalog.

To edit a photo using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements from within Lightroom, you must have one of those applications installed on your computer. Then follow these steps:

1. Set or check your external editor.

  1. In Lightroom, choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Lightroom > Preferences (Mac OS).
  2. Click the External Editing tab.

    If Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is installed on your computer, it appears as the designated external editor.

  3. If desired, under Additional External Editor, click Choose and navigate to and select a program or application.

See External editing preferences for more on the options in this dialog box.

Lightroom External Editing preferences
The External Editing preferences window lets you designate Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or another editing application as an External Editor.

2. Select a photo to edit.

In the Lightroom Library or Develop module, select one or more photos and choose one of the following:

  • Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop [version number]
  • Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop Elements [version number]
Lightroom Edit In menu
Choose Photo > Edit In and then the external editor you want to use.

If you’re opening a camera raw file in Photoshop CS3 or later, Photoshop opens the photo directly.

If you’re opening a TIFF, JPEG, or PSD file, choose to open a copy of the photo with Lightroom adjustments applied, or open a copy of the original photo.

Lightroom Edit In options
Choose how you want to open a TIFF, JPEG, or PSD file in Photoshop.

3. Edit in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Lightroom opens your photo in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Perform your desired edits in that application, and when you’re ready, choose File > Save.

4. Return to Lightroom.

Switch back to Lightroom. In the Library Grid view, a new version of your photo appears next to the original. The new photo contains the edits you made in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. The original photo is untouched.


When saving from Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, be sure to turn on the Maximize Compatibility option so that Lightroom can read the images. Photoshop CS3 and later automatically save PSD files from Lightroom with maximum compatibility.

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