How to Install Aurora HDR as a Lightroom Plugin

Aurora HDR 2019 can be used as a standalone app, but it can also be used as a plugin for Lightroom. Here’s a quick guide on how to install and use Aurora HDR 2019 as a Lightroom plugin.

Last Updated:
Filed Under: Plugins

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Aurora HDR can be used as a standalone app, but it can also be used as a plugin for Lightroom. Below is a quick guide on how to get Aurora HDR running as a Lightroom plugin.

First, though, there are some things worth mentioning about the way in which Aurora HDR works a Lightroom plugin.

Some plugins work inside Lightroom. Some work outside Lightroom. The Aurora HDR 2019 plugin functionality works outside Lightroom. It’s not like the develop presets where changes are made to the develop settings. When you’re working with Aurora HDR as a Lightroom plugin, what you’re doing is sending an image from Lightroom to Aurora HDR and then back to Lightroom–a so-called round trip.

When you send the image or images from Lightroom to Aurora HDR, you can choose whether to take advantage of the edits you’ve made in Lightroom, in which case it will render those edits and send the file as a high quality TIFF version. Or you can tell Aurora HDR to work directly with the original source file, which will ignore any edits you’ve made in Lightroom. And yes, Aurora HDR can work directly with RAW files–it will pass a TIFF version back to Lightroom when you’re done.

Aurora HDR isn’t unique in working this way–many plugins do it, from Perfectly Clear to the NIK Color Efex Pro to Photomatix Pro. Aurora HDR does it slightly differently to some of those in that you access it through the Export Presets menu rather than the Edit in External Editor menu, but the result is the same.

These screenshots were taken using Lightroom Classic CC and Aurora HDR 2018, but it’s exactly the same process for the newer Aurora HDR.

How to Install Aurora HDR as a Lightroom Plugin

  1. First, you have to open Aurora HDR as a standalone app (ie. not to through Lightroom). Then go to Aurora HDR > Install Plugins…

Screenshot of the Aurora HDR 2019 Install Plugins Menu Item

  1. Select from the list of options: Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, and Aperture. You obviously have to have the host app installed first; that is, you obviously can’t install the plugin for Aperture without first having Aperture installed.

Screenshot of the Aurora HDR 2019 Install Plugins Popup Screen

  1. In this case, I’m installing it in Lightroom Classic CC. To have the plugin register, I’ll need to restart Lightroom.

Screenshot of the Aurora HDR 2019 Restart Lightroom popup

  1. Once it’s installed, the status at right will be updated. You can then click on Done, fire up Lightroom, and start using Aurora HDR 2019 as a Lightroom plugin.

How to Use Aurora HDR 2019 as a Lightroom Plugin

  1. In Lightroom, select your images.
  2. Go to File > Export with Preset.
  3. In the flyout menu, you’ll see a new section for Aurora HDR 2019. You can choose Open Source Files or Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments. These do functionally the same thing as Lightroom’s usual Edit With option–it’s just the wording is a bit different. And the wording varies slightly with older versions of Aurora HDR. But it’s pretty easy to work out what they mean. One opens the original master image and ignores any changes you’ve made in Lightroom. The other takes the edits you’ve made in Lightroom, creates a new version based on those edits, and sends that to Aurora HDR 2019.

If you choose the Open Source Files option, you can have Aurora HDR work directly with RAW files, but you won’t see the effects of any edits you’ve made within Lightroom. When you send the image from Aurora HDR back to Lightroom it will send a high-quality TIFF file.

Choosing Multiple Images. If you select multiple images to export to Aurora HDR 2019, it will assume that they’re the same image at different exposures and try to merge them as a true HDR image.

If you export a single image to Aurora HDR 2019, it will assume you want tone mapping and that’s the only option you’ll have available.

About Aurora HDR 2019

Aurora HDR 2019 can be used as a standalone app (Mac and Windows) or as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Apple Aperture.

It's set to be released on October 4, 2018, but in the meantime you can pre-order to take advantage of special pre-order pricing and a bonus bundle. You can find further details here.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. I've been using Lightroom for years, from back before it was Lightroom (RawShooter). More »

12 thoughts on “How to Install Aurora HDR as a Lightroom Plugin”

  1. When I try to import bracketed photos from light room to Aurora, I only get one picture. When I try to import bracketed photos in to aurora directly, it tells me that it can’t import them because the file extension has to be the same. What is going on.

  2. Does it work with Lightroom 6 (Not CC)
    Also on the trail version can it save an image after HDR adjustment or do you have to wait until you buy the package

  3. Hi, I have just installed this and followed all your instructions, however, you dont say what to do once one has edited the photo in Aurora. What steps do I take to revert back to Lightroom?

      • Is it showing up as installed and running in the Lightroom Plug-in Manager panel (File > Plug-in Manager)? For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, some plugins sometimes don’t start running automatically when you fire up Lightroom and you have to manually enable it in the Status part. I haven’t see that issue with Aurora, but I have with other plugins. If everything looks normal in the plug-in manager, I’d recommend reaching out directly to Skylum support.

    • In order to return the photo edited in Aurora 2019 to Lightroom, press the “Apply” button that you see on the right-hand top in Aurora. After processing, a new TIFF photo appears in Lightroom that has the edits.

  4. How do I install Aurora HDR 2017 as lightroom plugin? I had to buy a new computer and now I cannot use it as LR plug in, since the INSTALL button says “You must install this software first”. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that lightroom now have two versions? Please help.

    • Hard to say for sure. Is Aurora loading normally as a standalone program? I’ve found the folks at Macphun to be very helpful, so it would be worth dropping them a line to see if they can suggest a solution. Their contact form is here.


Leave a Comment