How to Open a Lightroom Photo in Photoshop

Editing photos in Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC gives you plenty of options. But sometimes, Photoshop provides options that aren’t possible in Lightroom, so you might want to move your pictures over for further editing.

Opening a Lightroom photo in Photoshop is simple, and you can do it from both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC with similar results. Here’s how.

The Difference Between Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Photoshop

Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Creative Cloud are dedicated photo editing software. Lightroom Classic utilizes local storage upon exporting your photos. It also has a slightly different interface than Lightroom CC.

Lightroom CC works with Adobe Creative Cloud, along with the myriad of other Creative Cloud software, and uses cloud storage to store your files, export settings, and catalogs. You need access to the internet to save your photos in the cloud, but you can also export them locally.

Photoshop is another image editing software; however, its focus isn’t entirely on editing photography. Photoshop uses destructive and non-destructive tools, including layers, masks, brushes, and much more. Photoshop’s focus is on image manipulation for many purposes, rather than strictly only enhancing photography.

How to Open a Lightroom Classic Photo in Photoshop

After importing your photos to Lightroom Classic, edit them as you wish using the Develop module. From there, choose which photo you want to edit further in Photoshop.

Right-click the photo and choose Edit In > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. The Smart Object option is non-destructive and keeps your file connected. The other option, Edit in Adobe Photoshop 2023, means you edit a copy of your photo with three different options: edit with Lightroom adjustments, edit a copy of the original, or edit the original.

Photoshop photo as Smart Object layer.

Once you’ve selected your option, it will prompt Photoshop to open with your chosen photo. Do not close Lightroom Classic.

In Photoshop, your photo will be a Smart Object—if you chose that option—as shown by the Smart Object icon on the layer’s thumbnail.

Photoshop Camera RAW.

To edit the image, double-click the Smart Object icon on the layer to open Camera RAW, so you can directly edit your photo. Make your edits in Camera RAW and select OK.

See our guide on using Camera RAW as a Smart Object in Photoshop. You can also use Camera RAW to create HDR photos in Photoshop.

Photoshop save option.

Once you’ve finished editing in Photoshop, select the X on the photo’s tab. When prompted, select Save. Head back to your Lightroom Classic window.

Lightroom Classic side by side edited comparison.

Your newly edited image now sits in front of the original version in the Lightroom Classic library. This keeps the original version intact, ensuring it doesn’t get overridden. Export your image from Lightroom Classic using whichever export settings you prefer.

How to Open a Lightroom CC Photo in Photoshop

After importing your photos to Lightroom CC, make any preliminary edits to your photos, and then choose the photo you wish to edit in Photoshop.

Lightroom CC Filmstrip.

Right-click the photo and select Edit in Photoshop. Keep Lightroom CC open on your system to ensure the connection remains between the files. Your photo will open as a normal Photoshop project, and you can edit the photo using any Photoshop tools. Perhaps try adding a frosted glass effect to your photo or turning your photo into a pop art portrait.

Photoshop photo with layers and exit tab marked.

Once you’ve finished editing the photo, select the X on the photo’s tab in Photoshop, and select Save on the popup prompt. This automatically opens Lightroom CC again, where your newly edited photo appears on the filmstrip.

Photo filmstrip in Lightroom CC.

Initially, your newly edited photo will show in place of the original Lightroom CC photo. It may seem like it’s been overridden.

Lightroom CC stacked filmstrip.

Select the 2 on the filmstrip image’s top right-hand corner, this will take you to a second filmstrip with both the Photoshop-edited photo and the original Lightroom CC photo. Your original image is preserved. You can then export your image however you wish from Lightroom CC using the export settings.

Easily Open Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC Photos in Photoshop

Both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic are excellent photo editing software. But sometimes, there are tools in Photoshop that offer editing capabilities that can’t be found in either version of Lightroom.

To preserve the quality of your image and to save time and storage, instead of saving the Lightroom photo and then opening it in Photoshop, it’s easier to use the cross-platform editing functions between Lightroom and Photoshop.

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