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How to Email Photos From Photoshop Lightroom

Photoshop Lightroom does have an export to email function, but all that does is process your photos as small-sized JPEGs so they’re easier for emailing, and it sticks them in a folder. However, if you take just a minute to tweak this feature, it can do so much more—in fact, it can process the photos for emailing, then launch your email application, and attach your photos to the email—all automatically. Then you’re really emailing from Photoshop Lightroom, not just getting a folder full of small JPEGs. Here’s how to set it up (luckily, it’s surprisingly easy):

  • Step One. The key to getting the full automation I just mentioned in the introduction to this tutorial is to create what’s called an Export Action, which is basically telling Photoshop Lightroom what to do after it exports the photos as small JPEGs. In our case, we’re going to ask Photoshop Lightroom to launch our default email application and attach our photos. You set this up in two places: (1) in the Export dialog, and (2) on your computer itself (don’t worry—it’s easy). Start by going to the File menu and choosing Export (as shown here).
  • Step Two. When the Export dialog appears, go to the bottom of the dialog to the Post-processing section, and from the After Export pop-up menu choose Go to Export Actions Folder Now (as shown here).
  • Step Three. This brings up the folder on your computer where Lightroom’s Export actions are stored (as shown here).
  • Step Four. Leave that window with your Export Actions folder open, but then go to the folder on your computer where your applications are stored (on a Mac, it’s your Applications folder; on a PC, it’s your Program Files folder). Find your email application, and what you’re going to do next is create an alias (on a Mac) or a shortcut (on a PC) to that application (basically, these are pointer icons that point to the real application). To create an alias on a Mac, you’d Control-click on your email application icon, and from the contextual menu that appears, choose Make Alias. Your alias icon would appear right beside your real email application’s icon and it would have the word “alias” added to the name. On a PC, to create a shortcut, you’d Right-click on your email application icon and choose Create Shortcut from the contextual menu. Your shortcut would appear in the same folder.
  • Step Five. Now, click-and-drag that alias (or shortcut) into Lightroom’s Export Actions folder. If you open that folder, you should see your alias (or shortcut) in that folder (as shown here). Go ahead and click Cancel to close the Export dialog. Next you’re going to create an Export preset that processes your photos as small JPEGs, then launches your email program, and attaches these smaller JPEG photos automatically (it’s easier than it sounds, especially since you’ve done all the hard parts of this process already).
  • Step Six. Go under the File menu, and choose Export to bring up the Export dialog again. From the Preset pop-up menu at the top, choose For E-Mail (as shown here). This loads settings that work well for emailing photos (it chooses the right quality setting, color space, resolution, size, etc., for emailing photos), however you can override any of these if you like (if you want a higher quality, just drag the slider to the right. Personally, I turn on the checkbox for Minimize Embedded Metadata, so it just includes my copyright and contact info in the metadata, and not all the info on my camera and settings). Next, go to the Post-processing section at the bottom, and from the After Export pop-up menu choose Mail Alias (on a Mac) or Shortcut to Outlook (on a PC), as shown here. Lastly, you want to save all this as a preset, so go up to the Preset pop-up menu, and choose Save as New Preset. When the New Preset dialog appears, give your new preset a name (I chose “Send in email”) and click the Create button. Now, click Cancel in the Export dialog (it’s okay, because we only came here to create a preset, and it’s saved).
  • Step Seven. Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) on the photos you want to send in an email to select them. Once they’re selected, go under the File menu, under Export Presets, and choose Send in Email as shown here (that’s the Export preset you created in the previous step).
  • Step Eight. Lightroom takes it from there, and the next thing you’ll see onscreen is your email application with a new email window open, with all your selected photos resized and attached to the email. All you have to do now is enter the email address of the person you want to send this to, add a Subject line, and hit Send. Since you’ve created this Export preset, the whole process will be just Steps Seven and Eight—select the photos and choose Send in Email. See, it was worth that little extra effort this one time to set up such an effortless emailing system.
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