How to Resize Photos in Lightroom

Can't find the "resize" button in Lightroom? It's not you--there isn't one. Here's how to do it.


Having trouble finding the “resize” button in Lightroom 5? It’s not you: there isn’t one.

This isn’t some kind of head-slapping oversight on the part of Lightroom’s developers–far from it. Instead, Lightroom has more powerful, flexible, and safer way of dealing with image resizing. But it means a different way of thinking about the whole process. Instead of resizing the original image, you create a new copy with a combination of cropping and exporting that ends up at the size you want.

The key is understanding the idea of non-destructive editing. Like other leading image management systems like Aperture, Capture One, PhotoMechanic, or Corel Aftershot Pro–or pretty much any photo software that knows what it’s doing–the idea is that the original image data itself is never edited or altered.1 That eliminates the risk of corrupting or degrading the original file. If you ever need to get back to the digital equivalent of a film negative, you can. Think of it like this: if you were using slide film and you wanted a small image, you wouldn’t go and attack your slide with scissors.

It also means that unless you try quite hard you shouldn’t be able to accidentally overwrite your original image with a lower resolution or somehow degraded version–your master version should always be preserved. You don’t want to accidentally replace with your original image with a resized thumbnail, for instance. Of course, there are other ways you can accidentally delete files, so always, always be sure to have a robust, redundant backup system humming away, a topic I’ll be dealing with here sometime soon.

So if you can’t actually resize in Lightroom, how do you get an image at the size you want it?

This is where Lightroom 5’s powerful export functionality comes into play. But first, you have to know the difference between cropping and resizing. They’re not the same thing, and you can do both to an image.

Cropping in Lightroom

Cropping is choosing which parts of an image you want in the finished image. It’s one of the tools in Lightroom’s Develop module. You might zoom in to the center and eliminate some from all the sides, cut off just one side, create a square image, or create a long, thing panorama. What you’re doing with the crop tool is telling Lightroom that that’s the part of the image you want to work with.

I have a post specifically on the topic of cropping and straightening photos in Lightroom. And if you’re looking for more control over your cropping, Lightroom includes a number of very useful crop tool overlays to help as guides.

Exporting from Lightroom

To get an image of a particular size, whether it’s a certain number of pixels wide or a particular number of inches tall, you approach things a bit differently. Rather than trying to resize the original image, a much better and safer practice is to export a new version of the file that has the dimensions you want. Once you have that resized copy, you can do what you want with the copy without any risk to your original master image. You can even reimport it back into Lightroom and stack it with the original image if you like, or you can create a special folder or category that holds just your resized images (one for thumbnail sizes, another for email sizes, etc).

Below are practical examples of the Image Sizing options in Lightroom’s export feature (select image/s in Library Module » File » Export » Image Sizing). The screenshot shows the setting that were used, and each image’s caption details the dimensions of the end result.

What Resolution Setting?

The examples below all use pixels as the measuring system, in which case the Resolution setting (sometimes known as pixel density) doesn’t really matter. 2400 x 3000 pixels with a Resolution setting of 72 ppi will result in functionally the same image as 2400 x 3000 pixels with a Resolution setting of 600 ppi. 72 ppi has long been the default standard pixel density for screen display; anything from 240 ppi through 600 ppi or higher us standard for printing. Apple’s Retina displays use a higher pixel density–ranging from 220 to 326, depending on the device. But for digital display on a screen, the pixel density really isn’t relevant–you should only worry about the number of pixels wide and the number of pixels high. If you get a request from a graphic designer to deliver files that is something like 3000 pixels by 2400 pixels at 300 dpi, the “300 dpi” part is redundant.

The same is not true if you use a physical measure like centimeters or inches. In that case, the Resolution setting matters. 8 x 10 inches at a resolution of 72 ppi isn’t the same thing as 8 x 10 inches at 300 ppi. Physical measures are mostly used when you’re trying to create prints. The pixel densities used for print are traditionally 240 to 300 ppi (although some printers use higher measurements).

If I’m resizing for making prints, I generally find Lightroom’s built-in Print module a better option than using Lightroom’s export function. If you need even more flexibility for print resizing, third party software like Qimage, PhotoZoom, or Genuine Fractals might be what you need.

Width & Height

The key difference between using Width & Height as opposed to Dimensions is that orientation comes into play. Using this setting, regardless of the image orientation, the image will not be wider than the width setting you specify and not higher than the height setting you specify. Another way of putting it is that you’re specifying the horizontal measurement (width, across) and the vertical (height, up) measurements.

width 376 px | height 250 px

width 155 px | height 250 px


The Dimensions setting is similar to Width & Height but is agnostic of the image orientation. Rather than specifying horizontal and vertical measurements, you’re specifying both the long and short edges. Input the maximum image dimensions you’d like to fit within and it will automatically scale, ignoring whether it’s actually the horizontal or vertical sides. If you want both portrait and landscape oriented images to all come out the same size, this is the most useful setting to use. Also see below, Dimensions: Square.

width 376 px | 250 px height

width 250 px | height 376 px

Long Edge

Use this setting if you’re only concerned about the longest side, ignoring whether it’s the horizontal or vertical measurement. The shortest side will not be restricted. This setting can be very useful for resizing panoramas.

width 500 px | height 332 px

width 332 px | height 500 px

width 500 px | height 78 px

Short Edge

Use this setting if you’re only concerned about the shortest side, ignoring whether it’s the horizontal or vertical measurement. The longest side will not be restricted.

width 753 px | height 500 px

width 500 px | height 753 px


A newish addition to Lightroom’s export sizing options, the output to Megapixels has relatively specialized applications, including submitting to some stock agencies that set their royalty free prices by megapixel image size.

width 1226 px | height 814 px

width 815 px | height 1227 px

Dimensions: Square

This isn’t actually a separate Lightroom setting but rather a simple way of using the Dimensions option and specifying identical measurements for the long and short edges. This can be especially useful when creating thumbnails or resizing images for display for an onscreen slideshow or image gallery where the window for the actual image display is square.

width 500 px | height 332 px

width 332 px | height 500 px

Some Sample Image Sizes

There’s obviously nearly an infinite number of image size settings that are possible that you can customize according to your own needs and preferences. But here are suggestions for places to start for common scenarios. All are again measured in pixels because I find that it’s generally a safer and more flexible way of doing it than constantly cross-calculating Resolution if using physical measures like inches and centimeters.

Sending an Image by Email / Uploading to Facebook

Setting: Width & Height | Width: 1000 | Height: 800 | Resolution: 72 ppi

This is a good compromise between having a large enough image to appreciate the details, will keep the filesize manageable for email even with several attachments, and will display the full image on most modern monitors. The reason I use the Width & Height rather than Dimensions is that monitors aren’t square and I know that I have more room to play with horizontally than vertically.

If you want more specific information on image and graphics dimensions for Facebook, check out this post.

Creating Thumbnails

Setting: Dimensions | Measurements: 100 x 100 | Resolution: 72 ppi

Using the Dimensions setting and specifying identical dimensions works well for thumbnail grids. Note that this doesn’t create square thumbnails (unless your original images are square, of course) because it’s set to fit the entire image without cropping inside the measurements you’ve specified. Creating square thumbnails isn’t possible with the standard Lightroom Export module–you have to use something else like the Print module, the Web module, or an external editor.

Printing an 8 x 10 inch print

Setting: Dimensions | Measurements: 2400 x 3000 | Resolution: 300 ppi

I generally prefer to use the more powerful Print module or external options for resizing for print because you have a lot more control over the output. But if I need to use the Export feature, these are the settings I’d start with. Some printers work best at a much higher print resolution of 600 ppi, 1200 ppi, or even higher, in which case you’re probably better off setting the Resolution at the desired output and using inches or centimeters as your measure rather than pixels. If you use the Print module, that’s all taken care of in a better way.

More Advanced Alternatives for Lightroom

LR/Mogrify 2: If you’re looking for more advanced controls to add to the Lightroom Export module, take a look at the excellent collection of tools offered in the LR/Mogrify 2 plugin by Timothy Armes. It allows much more control over your output, including a wide choice of resizing algorithms, and it can be used in combination with the plugin’s other powerful features like fine-grained watermarking control, adding text overlays, and adding borders and keylines.

Lightroom’s Print Module: Don’t be put off by the name–Lightroom’s Print Module can also be used to create jpegs and allows a lot of control over resizing options.

Other Software Options

Resizing for Print

Qimage: (Windows only) This does a lot more than image resizing. Qimage has long been leading the field on Windows systems in preparing images for print, whether you use your own printer or send to a photo lab. It also provides fine-grained control over all aspects of preparing images for print.

Going (Really) Big

Image upsizing / uprezzing is one of the many endlessly debated topics in digital imaging, and there are many “right” answers because so much of it comes down to the look you’re going for or how much detail you’ll be able to see in the end product. If you’re intending to frame a photo for the wall, for instance, will the viewer standing 6 feet away from it really be able to tell the difference between an image upsized with expensive extra software and an image upsized with standard Lightroom functions? Only you can decide what the “right” answer is. After all, it’s your work on display.

If you decide that you want more control than Lightroom’s built-in functionality offers, then there are many alternatives. Photoshop offers a range of resizing options, and you can also build a Photoshop action to do step resizing which involves incremental stages of only 10 percent for each increment.

If you plan on making very large prints on a regular basis, there are external editors that provide specialized functionality that might be worth investigating. You can use the “external editor” functionality to add a shortcut in Lightroom to these, but they don’t technically integrate directly into Lightroom and each involves first creating a TIF version and working on that.

Perfect Resize: (it used to be known as GenuineFractals) (Windows & Mac) By OnOne Software, Genuine Fractals specializes in image upsizing and enlargement.

PhotoZoom: (Windows & Mac) By BenVista Software, PhotoZoom specializes in image upsizing and enlargement.

Neither of these is inexpensive, so they might be overkill for occasional use. Both of these accomplish much the same thing but use different algorithms to get there. The results from both are excellent, but they do end up with a slightly different look if you look very closely. Before buying either of them, I’d recommend downloading the trial versions and seeing which you prefer.

Resizing to a Target File Size

This isn’t something that can be done in Lightroom’s standard Export module, but I’ve created a detailed guide on how it can be done on Mac systems here using Automator and Ben Long’s excellent Photoshop Actions.

Need Even More Options

If you need even more control over your export sizing than the baked in options offer, check out Rob Cole’s Exportant Lightroom Plugin that allows all sorts of other options like exporting to megapixels smaller than Lightroom’s 1.0 megapixel limit, exporting to PNG format, or resizing by percentage. It also does a lot more than just resizing. You can find it here.

  1. There are some limited exceptions if you have the preferences set to embed metadata in the image file directly. 


  1. says

    What software would you recommend for getting photos ready for print? I use LR and Photoshop but when I send my pictures for print, some of them come back chopped off on the ends. I’ve set the aspect ratio to 5×7 or even 16:9, but my images still get chopped no matter where I send them for print. How do I print a quality pic where there’s a large group of people or a wide landscape photo?

    • says

      You should be able to do this without those issues from within Lightroom. I typically use the print module, where you can see how a print will fit on a particular paper size, etc, and sort out any border issues before you send the file. In the print module you have the option of sending directly to an attached printer or saving as a JPG. So you can just save the result as a JPG and upload that to the lab. You can also do multiple images at once.

      • says

        Thanks David, I tried that. However, when I upload a file to be printed at one of the printing services like Walmart, Walgreens, MPIX, Snapfish, etc and look at the print preview, my edges are still chopped off.

        • says

          It’s hard to diagnose it without seeing exactly what’s happening, but it shouldn’t be doing that. It sounds like an aspect ratio issue. When you use the print module, are you using the Fill option? That will zoom in as much as it needs to to completely fill the page size you’ve set up. If you’re using an image that’s a different aspect ratio to the paper size, it’ll chop off parts of the image from either the top and bottom or sides. You can also use the Fit option, which will include the entire image, but if the aspect ratios are different you’ll get white borders on either the top and bottom or the sides.

    • Darcy says

      Hi I am in a pickle as I am taking some pictures on my cannon 6D and am trying to export them to a printer for large 30×40 and 36×48 canvas wraps…. 1. I am exporting them from my Lightroom and I believe I have changed my Image Sizing and messed it up….now cannot figure out what my original width & height was. I am trying to just send the original files and have them change them but I can’t figure out the proper dimensions/or pixels that they should be. 2. I do not know how to figure out what I need to change in order to get the best quality of picture for the size.
      I have changed so much and have screwed it up too much. Please help me…

      • says

        If you’re just trying to export the original files, the easiest way is to uncheck the sizing options in the Export dialog. That will keep the size to the original. If you want to export the actual file (ie. make a copy), then choose “original” as the filetype.

  2. Sandy says

    I recently decided that I would like to print my own photographs,so invested in most up to date Lightroom and Photoshop CC and bought a Canon IP8750 A3+ printer. I now have 6 images that I would like to print to A3 or A4 size but tryng to achieve this is driving me mad, not to mention the reams of wasted paper trying to get it right.

    My problem is threefold.Having edited the photo I want to print,when I send it to the printer a lot of the image seen on screen is cropped away or there is a huge band around the image.My questions are:

    1) Is it impoossible to print what I see on screen without cropping occurring?

    2) How can I get it to print A3 or A4 to edge with just a little bleed?

    3) Can I set photo sizes to fit mounts that are of different sizes from standard 4×6;8×10;A2,A3,A4 etc?

    Can you help?

    • says

      Yes, I can certainly understand your frustration. I’ve had my share of issues trying to get the Lightroom/printer combination to do what I want. The problem is that there are several places things can go wrong with the print side of things, and every printer’s setup is different (and it’s different on Mac and PC).

      1. No, it’s not. But all the pieces have to play nicely together. If you’re using Lightroom’s print module, the first place to start is to make sure that the page setup is correctly done so that it’s for your target page dimensions. Then you can control the layout and the borders, etc. And once you send it to your printer, your printer’s settings will also have to reflect the size paper you’re using correctly.
      2. I haven’t used the Canon printer so I’m not sure about its edge-to-edge capabilities. But there should be an option in the printer’s settings to allows borderless printing (or called something similar).
      3. Yes. Using Lightroom’s print module you can either create a custom package (under Layout Style, at top right) where you can add cells of sizes you specify and spread them across the page to best fit on whatever size paper you’re trying to fill.
  3. says

    Dear David,

    Two elementary questions:

    (1) In each pair of pictures used in you examples above, one side of one picture has the same number of pixels as a side of the other picture, yet the two sides do not show they have the same physical length. I was confused a bit, but I suppose they are not meant to be compared directly with each other.

    (2) I shoot only JPEG. As I understand, every time I open, edit, and save the original file, degradation occurs. In LR, editing is nondestructive. Does this mean that at the end of editing, when I send the image out to be printed or displayed online, the original is still not touched?

    Thanks for the tutorial ~ I learned quite a bit.


    • says

      1. Not sure I fully understand. They’ll be the same (or about the same) except for the width & height example, because the box isn’t square.
      2. Correct. If you were to keep opening, editing, and saving over the original image in Photoshop, the JPG would get progressively degraded each time. But Lightroom doesn’t touch the original, so you can make as many edits as you like and then export from that without degrading the original image.
  4. Daria says

    thanks for the tutorial, well written and easy to follow :) . but i am still trying to find answer to my scenario. i process a batch of images in LR, crop them if needed so end up with different sizes. i need to add a frame to them, something like 2 or 3 cm of white space. i do it but resizing the canvas in PH. however, as the pictures are different sizes it will not let me do it as automate batch or at least i dont know how. i was hopping that maybe there is a way to do it in LR? are there any presets that could be applied? or a way to increase canvas size in LR? i found info about scripts that can be written for PH but i am afraid i have no clue how to go around it… would appreciate any help as doing it manually for 100 or more images is wasting my time :(

  5. andrewmarino says

    I’m still trying to understand exporting clearly in LR. Can I please ask three different scenarios.

    First, since this is my first 4:3 camera I need to understand the relationship between the aspect ratio to the physical print sizes.
    If I understand correctly, the physical print sizes for 4:3 are 6×8 inches, 9×12 inches, 12×16 inches….etc. I’m just using 4:3 as an example.

    I have to convert these to cm for where I live and take these to a print shop where they don’t speak English, probably don’t know the difference between 2:3, 4:3, 5:7 and probably don’t know what ppi their printer prints at.

    1) Here is a scenario that is confusing me. Let’s say I want to take an original image (4608×3456) and then, for example, I want to crop it significantly (1407×1055). The cropped size is only for conceptual understanding. The aspect ratio is the same 4:3

    In both cases, I set the File Settings > Quality to 100
    Image Sizing is unchecked and Resolution is 300 ppi for “standard printing”- but I think if Image Sizing is unchecked, then you cannot independently change the Resolution? At least, I think that’s how LR works (another question yes/no?)

    Now, if I also understand correctly, to make a 6 by 8 inch print at 300 ppi for “standard printing” then I actually need a file that is 1800×2400 pixels (the cropped image is only 1407×1055).
    Is this going to be a problem printing???

    Do I need to drop the Resolution to about 180 ppi (1080×1440) for the cropped image to print at a good “quality?”

    To add to more of my confusion, I also read a forum that said LR has its own interpolating algorithm that can “upsize” the image, though there must be some sort of limit to how far it can be pushed upward

    2) What if I want to take that 1407×1055 cropped image and print it at 9×12 inches, or 12×16? Can this even be done by reducing the pixels so much and still get a good print?

    3) Finally (whew), what if I have three different images with very different cropping (all are still 4:3) to export and print. For example: a 4608×3456 and a 1407×1055 and a 2277×1708 and I want to make 6 by 8 inch prints of these three images. What settings do I need to use to export all three together?
    This is, I think, a likely scenario for many photographers

    Thanks and apologies for just not “getting it”


    • says

      Apologies in advance if I misunderstand parts of your questions, but hopefully this helps…

      1. If you’re not resizing the image, the ppi setting doesn’t really matter. What’s more important are the pixel dimensions. The ppi essentially acts as courtesy information in these instances and is useful to calculating target pixel dimensions. But it’s the pixel dimensions that really matter. If you’re planning to print at 6×8 inches, a good target for lab printing is an image that’s 1800×2400 px. If your starting image is smaller than that, you can try Lightroom’s built-in resizing, use third party software, or leave it to the printer’s own built-in algorithms (depending on the printer, those can be at least as good or even better).

      Unless you’re looking to fine tune sharpening, there’s often no need to reduce the resolution before submitting the image to the lab. If you have an image that’s larger, the printers will automatically take care of it. In general, it’s better to have an image that’s too large than too small, because the larger image has more information to work with.

      Yes, you can upsize in Lightroom. There are no hard and fast rules on how large you can go–it comes down to looking at results and seeing if they meet with your approval. If the image starts out with lots of noise or jagged edges, upsizing dramatically can make them appear worse. And one photographer might be happy with the results while another isn’t. So the upper limit varies image by image and by personal taste. You can see the results by viewing the exported file at 100%.

      2) It’s not impossible, but that’s going to be pushing it. Again, it depends on the image and whether you’re happy with the results. I’ve made much larger prints than that from some of the first generations of digital cameras (images from a Nikon D1, for example, were only 2000×1312 px) and been satisfied with the results for the purpose. But with other images I’ve been less impressed.

      3) The printers will automatically handle any of those sizes, so one option is just to send them all in their original sizes. If you’d prefer to make them all the target size–perhaps you want to fine tune sharpening–a versatile target for a 6×8 inch print is 1800×2400 px.

      Hope this helps.

      • andrewmarino says

        Thank you and my apologies for the long delay in thanking you for your helpful answer. You have one of the highest quality tutorial websites that I tend to rely on.

  6. Susan says

    Thanks for the tutorial, your writing style is very easy for me to understand. I’ll certainly try the LR Print function.

    My problems are that I’m new to LR and to photography and I am “numerically challenged,” meaning I have to admit that I struggle greatly trying to understand the relationships and effects that size, pixel count, dimensions, and aspect ratio have on the quality of a large, PRINTED photo.

    I am mostly interested in being able to have my photos printed on canvas in large sizes all the way up to 30×20 or even much larger, when possible. Most of my more recent photos are taken with my “beginner” DSLR (a Nikon D3200) which has 24 megapixels. For these, I’m shooting in RAW format. Some of my older photos were taken with an old 4.1MP digital camera, and some with my Samsung GS3 smart phone, at 8MP.

    I often need to crop or straighten my images (being new to photography) and find that I lose QUALITY at the larger sizes, ending up with images that begin to look pixelated or grainy when printed at the large sizes I want.

    Can you point me to a VERY SIMPLE tutorial that will help me understand these terms, how they affect my photos, and how best to use LR, GIMP, or other tools to achieve images that will stand up to these larger print sizes?

    I will be soooooo grateful!

    • Melissa says

      You just wrote exactly how I feel. I’m in the same boat. I also have a Nikon d3200! This resolution stuff has been the hardest for me to understand.

  7. jim says

    Hi David,

    Your tutorial is very well written..thank you.
    I have one question..i have noticed, many times, when I am converting color negatives to positives using Lightroom 5..and Lightroom 4…after applying noise reduction and processing and then exporting to a jpeg file, the jpeg file after export appears to have a lot of grains…and looks rather bad as compared to the final image seen in the Lightroom display.
    I tried all kinds of combination while resizing, resolution..etc..but the grains are very still there and don’t match the quality of picture that I see on the Lightroom display.
    Kindly advise.

    Thanks very much again.


  8. Danny says

    Hi David,

    I have a CS5 Photoshop image of Image Size 3,600px * 5,400px & Document Size 12″ * 18″ (@ 300DPI). Image was captured on Canon 5D3 and cropped only fraction of an inch. After cropping to 12″* 18″, in Photoshop, I used NIK Output Sharpening plugin module to sharpen the image for Printer @ 300DPI. In Photoshop, I use ProPhoto color workspace.

    Then in LightRoom 5.2, I use the EXPORT function to export the 12″*18″ image as a JPEG image with sRGB colorspace (@ 100% quality setting).

    What I would like to achieve is a PROCESS where I can efficiently use the same one Photoshop file – with minor case-by-case changes – to generate different sized JPEG sRGB print images resampled uprezzed/downrezzed) (e.g. 16″ * 24″, 24″ * 36″). I have tried doing the different sized print file using Lightroom EXPORT\Image Sizing\Resize to Fit option. But becuase I carry out colour management and softproofing, I find softproof color adjustment in Lightroom, not as effective as Photoshop.

    Sorry for long story, but wanted to give u as much of the scenario facts as possible – for best ‘doctor’ recommendation on a good efficient, yet flexible process.

    • says

      That really depends on the size of the banner and the hardware and software being used to print it. Your best bet is probably to provide the graphic designer or printer with the largest file you have and let their in-house processes handle the upsizing.

  9. Yvonne says

    Arrrgghh! I am going mad here trying to figure this out. Please please please help me.
    I have been very unsuccesful in trying to resize my image to the specifications that my website wants.

    I use Lightroom and I must resize images to 1920×1080 and optimize them for the web. My friend can do this on Photoshop, but whenever I think I have it down in LR, it shows up with either 1920×1500 something similar, never to the 1920×1080 that I want.

    Can you help?


  10. cheresa says

    I am a newer photographer and I recieved my first request for a “traditional” schoool portrait. I’ve already done the typical senior pictures but now I need to figure out how to meet the yearbook specifications. I need to make sure the picture is 1.5 x 2 inches, and that the head is 1 inch from top of hair to bottom of chin. I am really struggling with this – could you please help?

    • says

      The total dimensions is easy enough to do in Lightroom–just export to those dimensions. But ensuring the dimensions of the face will be harder. It would be easier in image editing software like Photoshop, Gimp, or

  11. Christina M says

    I found your article and you hopefully will be able to help me. I am a small photographer and have just recently gotten involved in Real Estate photography. I am having issues with resizing my photos for RMLS. (A database where all the Brokers upload the listing pics I take). On RMLS it needs the pics to be 640×480 pixels. When I am in Lightroom I am using the crop tool and entering in a custom size to the 640×480 and it defaults to the 4×3 size. I crop/resize all the pics I edit and send them off to the Broker. Only to have them call me and complain that the images are all distorted in RMLS (example: the roof or siding is wavy looking, edges of things are wavy or broken up). I am thinking that RMLS is re-sizing the already re-sized photos causing distortion. I called RMLS this morning and they said if I can make the photo exactly 640×480 the photo uploader won’t touch it and no re-sizing will be necessary. When I went back to look at the photo details of one of the photos I re-sized it says 4352×3264 at 300dpi. What am I doing wrong. I would like to get more business but need to resolve this first. Please help! I have been on hold with Adobe help for over an hour and a half already this morning..and still am.
    Thank you SO much.

  12. Steven Taylor says

    I’m new to this concept of resizing .Today I wanted to venture out and I needs to resize my photos to companies specs. I use Lightroom 5 and when I export the photo to the specs they want it either changes what I put in or it allows me to do it. Example : I have a photo I need to size to 1300 px by 2000px W/H . When I put this in it does not save it correctly.Could you help me and show me what I’m doing wrong. Any help would be appreciated . Thanks

    • says

      Sounds like it might be an aspect ratio issue. Have you cropped the image first in the Develop Module to the same shape as 13:20? The exported image is going to be put inside a box with that ratio. So if you want those dimensions to be used in full, you’ll need to change the aspect ratio first.

  13. Jay war says

    I’m interested to know if I can not resize the picture or crop it, i just need to leave white edges on both sides since i was shooting portraits, and i’m trying making it a square.
    in Photoshop i would use canvas size. is there a batch tool that can do that in LR5?

    • says

      Two options to do within Lightroom are to either add an export plugin such as LR/Mogrify 2 or use the Print Module. A third option which also uses Photoshop is to export normally from Lightroom and then use Photoshop action to batch process adding the canvas to square.

  14. Ali says

    Hi, nice article, im saving it and returning often for reminders :)
    Im very new to LR5. I have a client who just told me she needs me to email her some pics for business cards.
    How can i resize to email, and also make sure they are sized for business cards?

    • says

      Each commercial printer will have their recommended pixel dimensions for this type of thing that includes their bleed specifications, etc, for specific sizes of business cards. So if you want to size it exactly, first you’ll need to get that info from them. But as a general example, a standard-size business card will likely use an image somewhere around 900 x 300 pixels.

  15. Jess says

    I am having an issue when I try to “resize” files that are 1996 × 2146 to 1000 x 1000.

    When I use the dimension resize function set to 1000 x 1000 it churns out images that are 930 x 1000

    How can i get the results I am looking for? Thank you for any help.

    • says

      You’ll first need to change the aspect ratio to a square. In the develop module, use the crop/aspect ratio tool and enter 1:1 into the drop down menu. That will change the shape to a square and when you output it with the settings of 1000 of 1000 you’ll get the result you’re after. Right now, you’re putting a rectangle into a square box that’s 1000 x 1000, so the longest edge is going to a 1000 and the shorter edge to 930.

      • Jess says

        It seems to cut off a good portion of the image. Sorry Im pretty new to Lightroom.

        How do I manipulate the photo so it can now fit into the square crop?

        • says

          There’s no way to stretch or distort the image within Lightroom. You can do it in image editing software such as Photoshop or Gimp or, etc. But doing so will distort the content of the image.

  16. says


    I have read every word of this thread and have found it the most valuable re: exporting for printing from LR on the ineternet (and I’ve looked)! You explain things very clearly, but I would still like to confirm something. I created an image with a Nikon D7000 (original dimensions 4928 x 3264 pixels). I cropped the image to a 1 x 2 panoramic in the Develop module. My client has now asked for a print as large as I can make it for her small gallery. She currently has a 18″ x 36″ print but asked if I could provide a 30″ x 60″ print. If I understand what’s been written before, I would want to resize to fit to Dimensions of 9,000 x 18,000 pixels at 300 ppi, is that right? My print shop has told me that the file size (megabites) is what determines how large an image can be enlarged. When I exported the image at those settings just mentioned the resulting file was 41.1 megabites! (The file that made the 18″ x 36″ print was only 12.1 megabites.) That seems like an extreme difference. Can you please help me, I really need this sale but want it to be right. Many thanks in advance for your assistance.

    • says

      Sounds like you have everything right. 300ppi is a good target for printing, but if you’re going to be upsizing, this might be a good place to let the printer’s hardware interpolation take over. That is, you could send the lab the cropped version of the file without resizing and have the lab take care of the upsizing.

      • says

        So generally what are the limits for upsizing in lightroom alone? Is there are percentage or increased number of pixels that is a good limit before you sacrifice image quality?

  17. says

    Hi David, Thanks so much for putting out this article!
    I have a question… I want to give my photos to a client so that they would have the ability to print 7×5, 6×4, 8×10, 8×12 for instance, even larger – like a canvas (i.e. I don’t want to limit them)
    Do I have to do it as ‘resize’ unchecked, or can I limit it somehow? I would like the files to be small as possible that achieves this!

    • says

      The smaller the file, the more limitations there are on making enlargements, so the two aims here are in conflict. If you want your client to have maximum flexibility, best bet is to give them the files in the native resolution (ie. without resizing).

  18. Pedro says

    thank you for this very well explained tutorial.
    I have a problem and can not find the solution anywhere.
    I need to export some images to 1280 x 720. My original files are 3693 x 2448 and what happens is that it exports the image to 1087 x 720. I have realized that it does this to keep the same ratio 3:2 of my original picture.
    My question is, how can I solve this without cropping the image? I just want to resize it with another aspect ratio.

    Thank you very much,


    • says

      In Lightroom, create a virtual copy and go to the Develop Module. On the virtual copy, click on the crop tool. Next to “Aspect Ratio” make sure that the small lock at right is unlocked (click on on it to toggle). There’s a small drop-down menu just to the left of the lock symbol–it probably has “As Shot” for you right now. Click on that and choose “Enter Custom”. In the Enter Custom Aspect Ratio popup, enter 12.8 x 7.2 and then hit OK. The crop rectangle will now resize to that aspect ratio and will export to that aspect ratio. In the Export dialog, enter 1280 x 720 in the width and height settings. You can then delete the virtual copy if you like.

    • says

      Not very much. It’s a bit like asking for an image that’s 300dpi. Both usually come from people used to print publication. When I get requests like that, I usually assume they mean it’s for print and that therefore 300ppi is ideal. So I’d send them a file that’s 1500 pixels wide (or tall of it’s a vertical image).

  19. Ben says

    Thank you very much for this post, I have just switched to Mac and was unsure as to how I could resize my pictures.
    Thankfully I have Lightroom installed already so with your helpful tutorial the problem is now solved.

  20. Norwin says

    I guess I am getting old. I have a problem in seeing the small thumbnails and whilst your column says there is no way to enlarge this film strip, I have to image that there are thousands like myself who are having trouble seeing the film strip and selecting the photos they wish to work on – out of their film strip. Thus, there must be some way to increase the size of the film strip even if just slightly larger.
    If there is, please email and tell me how…
    Much appreciated,

  21. Katie says


    I have a quick question. I am working on a senior picture for a yearbook and it needs to be changed to 300 dpi. I figured out how to do that but, what is the best way to export it for image sizing ( width&height, dimensions, megapixels, etc..) also for whatever one it may be what would I change the megapixels to?


  22. Maya says

    Hi David!

    I am pretty new to the photography game, so please excuse my ignorance :) I have a bunch of images that I want to print as 4x6s. Unfortunately, the original files were lost and all I have are copies that are at 100 dpi. I’m aiming for 300 for decent prints. As you mentioned above, I know I can resize using Photoshop and then apply the changes to the other pictures using the batch function. This process just seems kind of drawn out to me, and frankly, I like Lightroom so much better than Photoshop that I was wondering if there’s a way I could get similar results in Lightroom?

    Thanks! :)

    • says

      You’ll get the same effect by using Lightroom with the export options outlined above. Much more important than the dpi is the total pixel dimensions. Ideally, for printing at 4×6 inches, your original images should be at least 1200px by 1800px. That will give you 300ppi at 6×4. You should still get usable results down to at least 800px by 1200px. Smaller than that will start getting a bit iffy.

  23. Dawn says

    Would Lightroom be the best option for resizing to 20×30 or larger prints? These photos were taken with a 10.2 megapixel camera.

    • says

      Within the limits of the original 10 MP, you should get pretty good results using Lightroom alone. You’d probably get better results with something like Perfect Resize, but it all depends on whether it’s worth the extra expense.

  24. Katie says

    I’m new to the term “Perfect Re-sizing” but am intrigued by the idea that Lightroom might be able to do something to my images to preserve the quality allowing me to print larger sizes. How exactly do I go about doing this in Lightroom? Is it just about resizing the width and height of pixels? Any recommendation on how to calculate what I would need to do in order to preserve the image quality for a 12×36 panoramic photo? Thanks!

    • says

      For images of that size, Lightroom does a good job itself. So I’d just set the export dimensions to that size and take a look at the resulting image to see if it’s what you’re after.

      Perfect Resize is third-party software that does a very good job with very large enlargements. It’s not free, but if you do many large enlargements it can be worthwhile. More info at

      At one time, the recommended way of doing large enlargements was to do it in steps making it 10% bigger each time. You can still find Photoshop actions to do that, but it’s generally not considered as necessary these days because the native capabilities of image software have improved.

  25. says

    Hi David,

    I want to export my images from lightroom (that I have cropped into all different sizes), so that I can print them at the size 13×18. I can not work out how to resize the images correctly for printing at the print shop. Is there some sort of guide I can use to correlate? 13×18 = pixels by….by?
    Where can I find the sizes I need to use and what is the general rule re pixels per inch?



    • says

      If you want to resize your images before submitting them, aiming for 300ppi is a good target. For an image of 13 inches by 8 inches, that would be 3900px by 2400px. 300ppi is not a hard-and-fast rule; you can get good results at 240px or sometimes even lower.

      You can also give the images to the print lab as-is. Most printers these days have hardware interpolation capabilities built in, and if they don’t, then the print lab will have software able to handle it. The advantage of doing it yourself is that you can control sharpening etc. The advantage of leaving it to the printer are convenience and that the printers usually have dedicated algorithms that produce excellent results.

  26. says

    I am trying to batch size some images. some are vertical and some horizontal. The client wants them ALL to be horizontal at exactly 450×300 px. In Lightroom I set the W+H to 450×300 and it won’t crop the vertical images to fit that size. I am also coming up with even the horiz images being 450×295 or something off just a tiny bit.
    Any ideas?

    • says

      Yeah, Lightroom export doesn’t have the equivalent of a “fill” command that would do that. Instead, it uses a “fit”. Two options. Either crop all of the images before you export (you can batch apply the crop so you don’t have to do each one) or use the print module, setting the canvas aspect ratio to what you want, checking Zoom to Fill is checked. Under Print Job, use Custom File Dimensions, and then Print to File. The cropping first option is probably easiest.

  27. UMER says

    I’m using LR4 since last week. My native resolution is 1680×1050 and I want to desktop my pictures what I capture and edit from LR4 But it cannot be done. I manage the width and height to same native resolution and 240 resolution per inch is default. But it never do the same res photo I need. It goes to 1380×1000 something. My original photo is 2560×1944

    • says

      It’s an aspect ratio issue. Basically, you’re trying to fit a rectangle into a differently proportioned rectangle. Try this: create a virtual copy. Go to the crop tool and make sure the padlock next to Aspect is unlocked (just click on it to toggle). In the drop-down, which probably currently says As Shot, change to Enter Custom. In the popup, enter 16.8 and 10.5. Apply the crop to your photo as you like. Then export, using resize settings of 1680px wide 1050px high. The ppi setting doesn’t matter for this, so 240 is fine. That should result in the correctly shaped image to fit.

  28. roddy says

    Hi can u help? I take pics in raw and when on Lightroom I want to c my images on full screen, so I do the full screen function, the only prob is that my images never go completely full screen there is always about an inch border either side of my image.Is this normal I have tried viewing images in other viewing programmes but still it never goes to totally full screen, almost but not quite can u help

    • says

      Which module are you using in Lightroom? The Library or the Slideshow? The Library doesn’t have a true full screen view–you can hide the tabs and dim the lights, but you’ll still have space around the images. A better bet is to create a slideshow and then play that full-screen.

  29. says


    I am new to lightroom and am trying to export a small RAW image (15 MB) to a JPEG that I would like to be around 6-7 MB. I can only get it to save at 2-3 MB… Here are a few of my current settings W:3000 Res: 300 Quality: 100.

    Any help would be appreciated. Again, I’m new to lightroom and am pretty ignorant when it comes to lightroom/photoshop or really anything about sizing images… I just know I want it to be saved larger.


    • says

      Only two settings are going to alter your JPG file size: the pixel dimensions and the quality setting. Since you’ve already got the quality to 100, you can uncheck the resize option so that the JPG pixel dimensions will be exactly the same as the original RAW file. If the resulting file size is still less than 6-7MB–and I suspect it might be–that’s just JPEG at work. If you have some particular use that requires 6-7MB JPG for some reason, your only other option is to actually make the JPG pixel dimensions larger than the original RAW file. So, for example, if you original RAW image is 4000px by 3000px, you can upsize to something like 5000px by 4000px. Upsizing like that is generally something to do sparingly–there are drawbacks–but it is possible. But otherwise, I would question why you’re trying to hit a specific JPG filesize of that kind–that’s an unusual way to approach it. Generally, if you’re trying to specify a JPG filesize it’s to keep the file under a certain size.

  30. Greg says

    I want to export verticals so that they have padding on the sides (black or white) to make them uncropped verticals inside a horizontal format – this for my website slideshows. Is there a way to do this in lightroom 4?

  31. Ginette says

    What about 100k or 1mo, when my photos are exported , in propertiees, i see 1k, what happen iif i want to print 11×14


    • says

      Sorry, but I’m not following. If you want to print at 11×14 the best option is to use the resize option to something like 3300 x 4200 pixels. The ppi setting doesn’t really affect anything but you may as well set it to 300.

  32. Steven W says


    I am using LR4. I have a Nikon D800, and the original pixels are 7360×4912. I am trying to reduce the size to 851wx315h. The export works fine except the output file is only 472wx315h. No matter how many times I attempt it I end up with those dimensions.

    Can you think of any reason why this is so. I am using Resize to Fit: Width & Height.



    • says

      It’s an aspect ratio issue. The Resize to Fit setting is trying to put the result in a box 851 pixels wide and 315 high. But your image is squarer than that. Perhaps the best way to get precisely those dimensions is to first crop the image (using virtual copies if you don’t want to mess up the master copies). Set the crop dimensions to 8.51 x 3.15 and then use the same export settings you’re already using. You’ll end up cutting a little off the top, bottom, or both, because your desired output is more rectangular than your master images.

  33. says

    Hi David,

    Great article- thank you so much for writing it. It’s really well written and laid out simply.

    I have a question about resizing using Megapixels in LR. Currently, I resize all my images at 1.0 megapixel at 72ppi. My primary goal when resizing my images this way is to retain the quality, but have it be low resolution enough so that it protects it from printing (which I feel like, is kind of a “boogeyman” type of fear instilled in all of us photogs in the digital age.)

    Am I using megapixels wrongly and thereby negatively affecting the visual quality of my images on the web? If so, do you have another suggestion?

    Thanks in advance for your response!

    • says

      This is really only affecting the size, so should be no problem. The quality is affected by the quality setting you choose in the JPEG setting. But I tend to use a standardized pixel width and height for my web images. That can be a bit more consistent than megapixel when it comes to laying them out on the page.

  34. says

    So I want to take scanned photos and be able to manipulate their sizes – I am making a book for my son of his first 30 years. So after 2000 no problem I have digital images, but before that everything was on film. I have scanned photos and they don’t look bad but they are all 4×6 and I would like to be able to vary the sizes for what I am putting together, any suggestions?
    Thank you.

    • says

      I assume you mean that you’re scanning 4×6 prints? If so, there’s not a lot you can do, although you will likely get pretty decent quality if you print them up to 8×10 or so. You can try scanning at 600 dpi or using a multi-pass scan (check out Vuescan from if you scanning software doesn’t support multi-scans). But you might want to just try and see if the quality is acceptable without going to greater lengths.

      If you still have the negatives tucked away in the print envelopes, you have more options. Scanning those can be a bit more involved and requires a scanner that can do it, but since you’re going from the source you’ll almost certainly end up with better quality.

  35. Laura says


    I’m wanting to export an image as big as possible so it can be printed as big as possible. If I export quality 100%, untick resize to fit, resolution 300ppi will this give me maximum size print possible or can export above 300ppi? The file must be within 64 mb.

    Hope you can help!



    • says

      Yes, you can do it over 300ppi, but the most important part is the number of pixels wide and high. The ppi setting doesn’t really affect that unless you’re sizing it to physical dimensions like inches or centimeters. And you can print very big–I’ve had several of my images printed as large murals 30 feet wide or more, or ones like this that span an entire building. So your best bet is to try increasing the width and height until you get the filesize you’re looking for.

  36. Elizabeth says

    Great information! Thanks for the thread. I do need a bit of clarification on dpi sizing though. I have to email portraits of a friend to a magazine for an article. Requirements were 800×600 and 300 dpi. I have never looked at dpi before, so I assumed since my resolution was definitely high enough, that I would be safe. All the photos after cropping have sufficient resolution, but my dpi is 72 on all. Before I email these out, can I (and how) change the dpi to 300 without lowering or affecting resolution? Thank you.

    • says

      Normally you wouldn’t have to worry about that. My guess is that that’s a holdover from the print staff, where dpi matters. I suspect if you sent them as is there’d be no problem–the setting in this case is just a guideline and not something that actually affects the image. But if you want to change it, you can just export the image again in Lightroom or Photoshop or whatever. The catch there is that if you’re converting an existing jpg file, you’ll have to be careful not to get too much image quality degradation from exporting to jpg a second time.

  37. Heidi Meyer says


    I have Lightroom 4 with the plug-in, Mogrify. I need a quick formula for my borders. This is for 4×6 pics. I am sending my 300 dpi images to a photo lab to develop.

    My image size is 800 x 600 with “resize to fit” checked. Resolution 300 dpi.

    For my 4 x 6 pics I am doing the borders at 10% for the bottom border, so I can add text and 2% for the remaining. My font is 20. I am happy with the look.

    After I put my borders on, the site for the photo lab wants to crop my images; which gives me uneven borders.

    Now in order to preserve the image and border size I think I have to do something with the canvas.

    I just need a quick formula to achieve the look I explained in the third paragraph. please help. I have over 400 images to get done for Christmas. Once I have this formula, I will save it as a pre-set.

    • says

      Without seeing the images, my guess is that this is an aspect ratio issue–that the aspect ratio you’re exporting to is different than the paper you’re trying to print on (hence the cropping). Using percentages rather than fixed pixels might also be a factor.

      I use and am a big fan of Mogrify, but I assume you’ve ruled out the regular Print module for what you’re trying to do. That can be easier for controlling the output sizes for something like this with a bunch of mixed images because it’s set to a final paper size rather than a relationship to the original image.

  38. John says

    Hello. I am scanning my 35mm film to digital images with a dedicated film scanner rated at 7200dpi. A website review said “a scan with 7200 dpi delivers a picture file of 210 Megabyte, but indeed only 42 Megabyte of picture information are existing; the remaining nearly 170 Megabyte contain doubled picture points and can/have to be removed after the scanning in the picture processing program”. Are you familiar with this concept? Scanners rated at inflated dpi levels and the consummer having to resize after the scan to eliminate duplicate pixels? Can Lightroom do this? Thanks!

    • says

      I’m not familiar with that particular requirement, but some scanning software does indeed have the option for multi-pass scans. The results are then averaged and consolidated, which can lead to better scans. From the phrasing of it, it sounds like that might be the case, but if it is, that should be handled automatically within the software itself. I’ve not heard of it being a requirement of the end user to do that.

      If you’d like to look at other software options, I can strongly recommend Vuescan from Hamrick software. It’s compatible with a very long list of scanners (including, I’m willing to bet, the one you’re using), has very powerful control over the scanning options, and the developer and the community he’s set up for the software are very helpful. (I have no affiliation–just a long-time satisfied customer.)

  39. Diane C says


    working my way through trying to understand the dynamics of printing. This may sound silly but could you talk me through how to export images from LR4 onto a printing site called DS Colour Labs, you order prints online without burning to a CD.

    You could save me a couple of nights trying to figure it out.


    • says

      Some print labs have their own Lightroom plugin to handle this using Published Services. If this one does, it varies depending on how the plugin is set up.

      I’m not familiar with using DS Colour Labs, but the general principles should remain standard. There are two parts, exporting from Lightroom and then uploading and ordering from the site.

      For exporting from Lightroom, there are two main ways to do it. One is to use the regular Export function, outputting the image to the size print you want at a ppi of somewhere around 200 or 300 ppi. For an 8×10 inch print, for example, you might export the image at 2400×3000 pixels.

      Another option, and the one I usually prefer, is to use Lightroom’s Print module. That gives you finer control over borders, overlays, etc, and you can see what each adjustment does in real-time. Once you’ve set the paper size, adjusted borders, etc, you can choose Export as JPG from the bottom right.

      Both of those alternatives produce image files that you can then upload to the print lab site and place the order, but the uploading and the ordering is different for each lab.

  40. Jer says

    I have a question maybe you can answer. I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit, and I am working on retouching portraits. They need to be saved as different versions for the common sizes like 8×10 and 5×7, wallet size, etc. What i am wondering is if I have to save a copy for each dimension at those actual dimensions or could I really just crop the original high res image to a ratio that fits all of the ratios it can possiblt fit and then just save that one single file, then when they want to print it out if ever, they just hand that file to the printer and say ok here, I want this in 5×7 and 8×10? Now if thats not the case and I would have to make separate saves at each size, is there a way to do this in Lightroom more easily than in Photoshop?

    • says

      Yes and no. You could have one master version and then just use export settings to set the final print sizes. Or, if you just send the original size to the printer, they’ll be able to size it for the various paper sizes like 8×10 or 5×7. The catch, though, is that these are different aspect ratios (or different shapes). 8×10 is squarer than 5×7, so if you’ll lose some from the sides if you use the same crop as a 5×7. If that isn’t a concern, just send one master file to the printer and let them do resize it. But if you want fine control over the aspect ratio crops, you’ll need to create different crops (virtual copies in Lightroom are great for this) and then export to the desired size.

  41. says

    I have read your entire very helpful thread, but I am still unclear on one points.

    For the best print quality should the images always be exported in the size of the desired print? I have been doing all sizes full resolution. I shoot with the d600 and only use lightroom. Am I compressing images making them less sharp when I make smaller prints?

    I noticed that the pictures on my business cards almost looked pixelated but that is probably because they were so large and being compressed. I assumed that whcc and other labs adjusted the photos to the proper resolution. Now I am thinking that an have been doing it incorrectly all along!

    • says

      I usually export to the size I want to print. So for an 8×10 print, I’ll export at 2400×3000 pixels and for a 5×7 at 1500×2100, etc. For very large prints, though, you’re sometimes better off letting the printer do it. The top-level printers at labs have sophisticated interpolation algorithms that can often result in better results.

      If you export to full-size and then print smaller, you should not get the kind artefacts you describe. That is most likely some other variable, such as the printing software or the printing quality.

  42. says

    I understand the “science” or re-sizing, but what has me totally befuddled is how to print an image any larger than 8 x 10″ in Lightroom. It doesn’t seem possible to do, yet that seems ridiculous to me. Please advise!

    • says

      It’s definitely possible. Are you using the export function or the print module? If using the export module, it’s a matter of pixels. But I suspect you’re using the print module and have the page size set to 8×10. To correct it, you need to create a new page template from the left panel. You can set that at the paper size you want to use. Then you can apply that and fit the image using the right panel.

  43. Paul says

    Hi David

    Fascinating thread here.

    I’m trying to find the best way to downsize some tiffs to fit into an HD video format, without losing resolution and without stretching or squashing the image.

    I need to change the tiffs from 3528 pixels width and 3630 pixels
    height, to 1920 pixels width and 1080 pixels height.

    When I get Adobe Premiere Pro to Scale to Fit the images, I think its done with an algorhythmn that throws away quite a few pixels and it ends up looking very lossy.

    Can you help me on this one, or point me in the right direction.

    • says

      I’m afraid I’m not sure with Adobe Premiere Pro–I use Final Cut for my video editing–but is using a dedicated image editing program an option? Something like Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop (or Bridge) will have different options for the resizing algorithm such as variations of Bicubic that will give you finer control over the end result.

  44. Tara says

    I am very new to Lightroom, well new to any digital editing program.
    My question is;
    I want to print off a 2inch x 2inch image.
    When I go to export the image I have changed the image size to a 2×2 inch size but when I send it off to get printed it prints off as a 4×6.

    I must be missing a step, please help if you can.

    Thank you


    • says

      It’s hard to know for sure without seeing the images, but I’m wondering if your print lab is using a “fit” setting. If it is, a more reliable way to do it is to use the print module with “print to file.” That way you can specify paper size of 4×6 and set the actual image as 2×2 within that (with lots of white border around). Then, when they print on 4×6 paper you should get what you see.

  45. Renee Bruch says

    I am just getting started (mainly as a portrait photographer) and need some advice about free cropping in Lightroom 4. I currently take classes at a local art center (my instructor says I am extremely talented except I am “technically challenged”). Often when I am looking at my images I see a better “image within an image”. Many times when I see this “new image” the only way to get that image from my original file (I shoot in RAW and fine) is to use “free cropping” to isolate the image I want to create. However, when I do this and I want to print my image (I use Costco – but this will also apply to CDs that I provide to clients who want to print standard sizes as well as canvas wraps) I get a “crop warning” and often a “resolution warning”. How can I use the free crop tool and still maintain optimum resolution and quality? And since I am technically challenged and relatively new to Lightroom 4 I appreciate any help I can get. Thank you all!

    • says

      The only way to be sure is to use a very high resolution camera. The Nikon D800, for instance, has 36MP and therefore lots of room to crop while preserving image quality. But it’s an expensive camera, unfortunately. For most printing, you probably don’t want to go much below 200ppi. So if you’re printing on 8×10 paper, you don’t really want to use an image cropped below 1600×2000 pixels.

  46. GLENDA says

    I captured 4000 full screen pictures from a web site using Picasa. Each of these has site information at the bottom of the picture. How can I remove this information from all pictures
    at the same time. I want to make a DVD for personal use.I have Lightroom, Photoshop 10,&
    photoshop CS6.

    • says

      Sorry, but I don’t really understand what kind of images these are. If they’re in a standard image format like jpg or PNG, you can crop in Lightroom if the information you’re trying to remove is on the same place for each image.

  47. John Bradley says

    My Canon G10 produces 15-20MB CR2 files, which having gone thru LR4, export as 40-42MB TIFFs. A recent requirement for a photo library (wanting 300dpi, 8bit, no compression and sRGB) is for TIFFs between 60 and 70MB. Will I ever be able to get up to this?
    I have played around with the ‘resize to fit’ and can get 69.7MB TIFFs by making the long edge 5700 pixels, but I’m not sure exactly what this is doing to the image. I’m sure it can’t be this simple.
    Is there a better way to proceed, or is the G10 not capable of producing such large TIFFs required?

    • says

      Many image libraries will provide a list of cameras they consider up to their standards. But 60-70MB is on the high end of requirements. You can uprez, but some libraries also don’t like this, and it’s not ideal insofar as image quality.

  48. brooke says

    Hi. I do my editing in lightroom3 and when I put my photos on a cd for people to print off to companies like shutterfly, they are not able to print anything larger than 5×7. It tells them they are low resolution. I’m very new to all this. I shoot in RAW. what am I doing wrong? I order my pics through Mpixpro and never have issues. If I don’t do anything cropping to the picture, they are able to get it in high res. Please help!

  49. Kenny Riley says

    Hi David,

    Can you point me in the right direction….Using a Nikon D300 and shooting in RAW, I am trying to prepare images that I can submit to stock sites (ie Alamy). They require file sizes of 40mb but using Lightroom 3 I am struglling to get the required JPEGs that size!!!! Any ideas??

    • says

      Alamy changed its requirement a while back to 24mb. And that refers to the size of the incompressed TIF image. You won’t get JPGs that large, and if you do, the Alamy uploader actually rejects any JPF image larger than 25mb filesize.

  50. says

    Whenever I export images from LR4 I set the resolution to match the size of the print I want.
    Example: A 5000×3000 image with a 1000ppi will be 5″x3″. A 5000×3000 image with 100ppi will be 50″x30″, so a 500ppi would result in a 10″x6″.

    Let’s say I want a 1,200ppi image at 10″x6″. How do I export a higher resolution image at say 10″x6″ ?


    • says

      Is there a reason you need to use such high ppi settings? Most print labs recommend 300ppi, and when home printers say they use settings like 2400ppi, that’s a setting for the printer to create in its process–you still feed it files in the 300-200ppi range.

      But the most important settings are the width and heigh pixels. In this case, 5000×3000. The ppi setting’s are rather arbitrary. If you print that file as a 10×6 or even a 18×10, you’re very unlikely to see any quality difference at all.

  51. says

    When resizing an image to print (say 8×10), should I do my editing in Lightroom first (color, exposure, sharpening, etc) then send to Photoshop for resizing/cropping, or resize in Photoshop then send back to Lightroom or editing?

  52. Paparazzi says

    Hi. is it possible to resize a thumbnail image to get a 4×6 print? I lost my original image, then did a recovery,but it only recovered thumbnail, with that said, I need them to print at a 4×6.. please advise. (original is NOT clear and sharp) :(
    thank you

  53. marshall says

    I had my black and white negatives scanned by a good Epson scanner a year ago. They were put onto discs, and I put them all into my new Photoshop Lightroom 3. I want to print them 8×10 up to 11×14. How do I export them. Is there a digital information guide with established correlations between size and pixel size? The narratives I read above seem to me really just want an established information guide like: 8×10 = ….pixels by …..pixels. 11×14 = ….pixels by ….pixels. What am I missing. If I export Jpeg is this how it works? If I export TIFF or something else is it the same?

    Thank you,

    • says

      The key is what your printer prints at. That’s the part that prevents a one-size-fits-all answer. But as a general rule of thumb, aim for 300 pixels per inch (or ppi). So an 8×10 would be 2400 pixels by 3000 pixels and an 11×14 would be 3300 by 4200, etc. It is possible to get good results with a lower density (say, 200 ppi), but 300 is a good target.

  54. elizabeth says

    I use lightroom to edit my photos. Then I export them to a cd to give to people. I have had the last two people tell me that when they go to have them printed out (walgreens, walmart) parts of the photo were cut off (their heads). I am extremely new to photography. Please help to understand what I need to do to fix this problem.

    • says

      While I can’t say for sure, there’s a pretty good chance that the error was on their end, not yours. Lightroom goes out of its way to prevent you from cropping images in such a way that you lose parts of the image. Most labs offer the option to “fit” or “fill” and image to a target print paper size. It’s a trade-off between filling all of the space on the paper and likely cropping out some of the image and including all of the image but probably having blank space on the sides or top and bottom. It’s the same issue that you get when watching a new widescreen TV and has to do with the ratio of the width to the height of an image.

  55. Mat says

    Cheers Dave for the concise reply I understand your directions.

    There seems to be an issue with my software getting to Page Setup. Both the lower left Page Setup button and also Ctr+Shift+P bring up `Print Setup` instead of `Page Setup`!

    I cannot find another way to access Page Setup as suggested. I guess I need to head over to Adobe unless you have a brainwave..

    Thanks again.

  56. Mat says

    Howdy Dave,

    I still don`t get it. Perhaps you can shine a light!

    Firstly I don`t have a printer so saving to disk is my preference.

    The goal: To be able to compose single images with borders in the LR4 print module and save them to disk. I`m thinking 16×24 including all round border. LR4 standard templates are all too small and I can`t seem to generate a custom size without being warned about clipping!

    At this rate it`d be faster to export the file to Photoshop!
    Help appreciated.


    • says

      Hi Mat, As you point out, LR4 doesn’t come with a standard 16×24 template. Without being to see exactly what’s happening, the process should be:
      1. Go to Page Setup and create a new template using Manage Custom Sizes in Page Size. Save the new custom size under User Templates.
      2. Select your new User Template.
      3. On right, under Layout, you’ll have options for setting margins and cell size. If you can get quite the margins you’re after, check that you did (or didn’t, as the case may be) specify them in the Manage Custom Sizes dialog.
      4. If you want an even border all around, be sure to check the Zoom to Fill under Image Settings.

  57. selina says

    Hi David….i was wondering what i should set my dimensions and ppi at in order to get high-res photos…i just uploaded some pics onto an online printing site and im trying to do canvas enlargements and it is giving me an error message telling me they are low-res so now im stressed that all the photo’s i have given to clients on a cd are low res :/ im not going bigger than 16X20 in any of the canvases…ahhh please help…thank you :)

    • says

      Hi Selina: For lab printing, typically 300ppi is recommended. But more important than the ppi setting are the pixel dimensions of the image. For an 8×10 inch print at 300ppi, for instance, ideal pixel dimensions would be 2400x3000px. In practice, you can often get away with lower if you need to–say, 1600x2000px (200ppi). You should be able to get away with lower than 300ppi for a canvas print, especially since it’ll be presumably hung on a wall and seen from several feet away. For a 16×20 inch print, 4800x6000px is ideal, but again you can get excellent results at least down to 3200x4000px.

  58. says

    Hi David,

    Thank you for this really helpful information. I am trying to place a white border around my images to frame them then export them for web using the print setting but I can’t seem to control the file size. Can you help please?


    • says

      Two things to check: Firstly, that you have set the correct paper size in the Page Setup at left under the templates. That’s probably not as intuitive as it could be, but it’s analogous to setting the paper size for a printer. Secondly, in the panels at right, at the bottom under “Print Job” there’s a “Custom File Dimensions” option where you can specify output dimensions.

  59. Maury Gollob says

    Hello, David:

    Thanks so much for this article which is the only one I have found that covers the subject matter so well.Even the talented Martin Evening devotes only half a page which reveals little useful to the reader (The adobe lightroom 3 book, page 486). I suspect that one could spend a lifetime learning about any given application,and might even be able to major in college in that specific program!-much less try and write a book that completely covers all of the features of the Adobe application

    You make some critical points about Lightroom and give your readers some rare jewels concerning the features of the program. I hope you will consider writing more articles like the present one in the future..

    With Best Regards,


  60. Bob Sager says

    I shoot a d300 and use the 17-55 2:8 with many of my photos–when I edit them in LR 3, they turn out beautiful.. When I get them ready say for an 8×10, 11×14, or 16×20–I lose width or height

    I think I am getting it after reading the comments, but what am I missing?

    In other words, how can I be sure if I load the file onto the cd that it will look the same when it is printed

    Thank you Bob Sager

    • says

      Hi Bob,

      It sounds like an aspect ratio issue. The Nikon D300 shoots natively at 3:2 (you can change in post in camera), but none of those standard print paper sizes are 3:2. For example, if you were to use the whole image and make it 8 inches high, you’d need a piece of paper 12 inches wide. Since you’re trying to use the standard 8×10, you’re going to lose 2 inches across.

      If you choose the “fill” option, the entire paper will be filled with the image but there’ll be cropping from height or width. If you choose “fit”, the entire image will display on the paper, but you’ll have blank space either on the sides or the top and bottom.

      Some print labs also offer paper sizes better suited to different aspect ratios. You can often find 8×12 as an option, for example. If you’re doing custom framing that’s great, but it can be more difficult to find a pre-made frame to fit it.

  61. Timothy says

    I’m resizing for print enlargements to a 16×20 size print at Costco, and need further clarification on how the “don’t enlarge” checkbox affects the output. I’m assuming that if I check “don’t enlarge” and have enough pixels in my original there is no problem with the enlargement’s clarity. If, however, I crop down the picture to a size that is smaller than what the pixels could fill, wont the image become more “grainy” as the pixels are enlarged in the print? Therefore I should allow the program to enlarge the file by leaving the “don’t enlarge” box unchecked. Will the program interpolate and add more pixels to the file, making clearer prints?

    Am I understanding this enlargement concept correctly?

    What about resolution? Will 1200 ppi give me the best opportunity to get the best output, even if their printer prints at a lower resolution? What is the highest possible resolution I should set when exporting? I’m uploading my files to their website, so I don’t really care how large they are (except that the upload may take all night) lol.

    Is there a difference in output print quality if the files are exported as tiff or jpeg? Does tiff have less compression and therefore better reproduction when enlarged?

    The problem that I’m having is that i’m shooting at high (1600) iso in low light situations and pushing the exposure 2-3 stops in Lightroom which yeilds a lot of grain in my pictures. If I use Luminescence/smoothing, the image becomes more “muddy,” or less sharp, and when I add detail back, I tend to get artifacts if I push the detail too much. I probably need a better body that will let me go up to 6400 iso, and/or faster lens (mine is f2.8)

    How do I get the clearest prints with the least amount of grain out of my lightroom 3 files?

    Thanks in advance for as many of the above questions that you have time to answer. I appreciate your service!

  62. rita says





    • says

      Hi Rita,

      The two things that would influence size like that would be pixel dimensions and compression. It is possible to have a large image with a small file size if you use heavy compression. In that case, of course, your image quality is likely to suffer as you get compression artefacts. Conversely, it’s possible to have a very small image with a large file size if you’re using TIFF or high bit-depth, etc. So a 67KB result isn’t of itself an indication that it’s not working–you should check the file properties of the resulting image to see the pixel measurements.

      But if the resulting image isn’t coming out at the pixel size you want, check that you’re not limiting the wrong side of the image. To guard against that, the “long edge” or “short edge” options are handy (see above).

      Hope this helps.

  63. Daniel says

    I used Lightroom 3 to export my photos (Canon 7D Raw to JPEG) for 7” x 7” photo book and I did NOT check the box “resize to fit”. Essentially, I just relied on the photo-book re-size software. I also checked the output sharpening in LR (glossy, standard). However, my photos looks crunchy in print as if it was over-sharpened. Do you think I should have checked “resized to fit” rather than leaving it un-checked? What do you usually do for photo-book when you layout different photo sizes?

  64. Leanne says

    Thank you for responding so quickly, I really appreciate you sharing your knowlege! -as you can tell I know not much about LR:) – So just so I have it right; you suggest cropping at any size (it could be custom or a image size) during the editing stage. Then when exporting uncheck the resize to fit box and that will allow my clients to print the images as 4×6, 8×10, etc. with no problem? Even though for instance I cropped the image to be an 8×10? I have cds of images just waiting to be mailed out but I’ve been holding off as I can just see my clients going to print the images and the person’s head being cut off or something haha. I have been searching for this answer online and just could not find a straight out answer to my question so I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question:)

    • says

      Okay, I see what you’re trying to do. It depends on what software your client is going to use to print and how comfortable they are with the output settings of that software. If you give them the original image dimensions they have the maximum flexibility, but that might also mean you have to provide more support.

      If I had to do this, I think I’d prefer to take the guesswork out for them. It’d mean an extra couple of steps for me, but would likely ultimately save time. I can think of two good ways to do this:

      1. Set a custom aspect ratio in the crop tool to 4×6, crop one image, choose the others in the filmstrip, choose sync all, and make sure only the aspect ration box is checked. Then go to Export. At the top, put in a subfolder called “4×6”, set Image Size to Dimensions 6 inches by 6 inches, Don’t enlarge, and 300ppi. Then hit Export. Repeat the whole process for 5×7, 10×8 and any other standard sizes you plan to offer, changing the aspect ratio, subfolder name, and dimensions as appropriate. You’ll end up with a 4×6 folder, a 5×7 folder, a 10×8 folder, etc, with perfectly sized and cropped images for each, taking the guesswork out of it for the client.

      There are two advantages to doing it this way. Firstly, you can check very quickly in Library mode that no heads are getting chopped off and change the crop on individual images if necessary. Secondly, you can save each of these export settings as a Preset, right down to subfolder names so that next time you have to do it for another client you just hit the export preset.

      2. An alternative way to do it is similar but instead of using the crop tool you can use the Print module with the Zoom to Fill option checked. You’d then create presets for each paper size and hit the Print to File button, again putting the results in the appropriate subfolders. The disadvantage of this is that it’s harder to adjust individual images if heads are getting chopped off.

      Both would end up with the same result, but I think #1 has advantages. And once you do it once and save as presets, the next time you have to do it it’ll be semi-automated and much quicker.

  65. Leanne says

    How do you recommend exporting photos to a cd? I include a cd of images for clients with all my sessions. And I need the pictures to be able to print at whatever size the client chooses. So when cropping my photos, should I be using the “original” choice and drag the crop corners from there, then when exporting, what should I be choosing under “image sizing”? If you could be of any help I would greatly appreciate it!!

    • says

      Hi Leanne,

      Great question, and it raises something I might add to the post. Unlike Photoshop or regular image editors, the Crop tool in Lightroom doesn’t actually change “size.” It’s purely to do with aspect ratio and rotation. Anything to do with actual image size is handled in the export process.

      So, if I understand correctly, it sounds like you want to deliver to your clients the maximum image size. If so, you can do whatever aspect ratio or rotation changes you need using the crop tool and then when you go the export dialog uncheck the “resize to fit” box in the Image Sizing tab. That will output the largest image size allowed by the original capture within the aspect ratio you’ve cropped it to.

  66. says

    I tried all the settings in LR3 but no matter what I do My export setting of 5×7 300dpi will end up 7×4.667 300 dpi in Photoshop. And the photolab always prints it with white lines on the sides.

    What am I doing wrong?

    • says

      This is mostly likely because your original image is not quite 5×7 aspect ratio. Lightroom’s export settings don’t include a “fill” option which would fill the entire export shape by cropping either height or width. As a basic example, if your original image is a 2×7 aspect ratio but you set the export settings to 5×7 at 300dpi, you’re going to end up with the actual image 2 inches high and 7 inches wide with a lot of white above and below the actual image.

      There are two ways around this. You can crop the image to a 5×7 aspect ratio before exporting (use the crop tool and enter custom aspect ration) or you can use the Print panel, which does include a “fill” option and then choose “save as jpeg”.