Lightroom Tips

Scott's Top 10 (+ 3 of my own)

If you haven’t seen it already, Scott Kelby posted a “10 Things I Would Tell New Lightroom Users” article over on his blog today. Its a must read if you’re a new-ish Lightroom user and I’ll be you’ll find something cool on there even if you’ve been using Lightroom for a while. However, I wanted to add 3 of my own.

1) Lightroom saves all of your history states… forever!
Ever notice that when you’re working in Lightroom you never actually have to save your image? In Photoshop we’re always going to File > Save but not in LR. That’s because Lightroom has a History panel in the Develop module (on the left side panel group). It automatically saves every single thing you do to your photos. The cool part is that unlike Photoshop (which discards your history when you quit the program), Lightroom saves this forever so you can always go back to it.

2) Lightroom’s Backup feature only backs up your catalog, not your photos.
Don’t forget that Lightroom’s backup feature only backs up the catalog – not the photos. So if your computer crashed and you had your backup, you could reinstall Lightroom and revert to the backup you created from Lightroom. But you’d only have your catalog with all the “stuff” you’ve done to your photos. You wouldn’t have your actual photos unless you’ve specifically backed them up separately (which is really easy if you follow Scott’s advice on where to store your photos).

3) No matter what you do, if you shoot in raw, editing in Photoshop will create a copy of your image.
I hear this one a lot. People are surprised that after they go to edit a raw photo in Photoshop, there’s a copy of the photo when they return to Lightroom. This will always happen. You can’t change it because you can’t edit the original raw photo in Photoshop. Lightroom has to render a copy of the image out and you’ll have that copy (in PSD or TIFF format) when you return to Lightroom. Your raw photo is still there, by the way, and it will still have all of your Lightroom-related changes in it, but only the copy will contain any Photoshop edits you’ve done.

So there’s my 3 add-ons to Scott’s post. Take care!



  1. Morgan 10 November, 2009 at 07:02 Reply

    Great tips Matt!
    Although, I’ve noticed on the third point, If you edit a photo in PS that was in LR by Edit In -> Adobe Photoshop en Save it As… in photoshop the same title and with the extension .NEF , lightroom will update the file with photoshop adjustments!


  2. DJ 9 November, 2009 at 15:55 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    You actually forgot the number 4 tip:

    4) Check on a regular basis.

    Keep up the good work,

  3. Dave Kosiur 9 November, 2009 at 13:43 Reply

    Strictly speaking, item #1 isn’t true either. Forever is along time! 😉

    Lightroom’s history feature is linear, which means it doesn’t support any branching. If you go back to a older step in the history and start editing the image anew at that point, you lose any of the other steps “above” that step from the old edit. Creating a virtual copy is a better way of creating these editing “branches”, but the history of the original isn’t copied to the virtual copy. Let’s say you create a VC and do some editing, then create a new VC of that edited VC. Should you delete the first VC, you’ll have no idea of all the steps it took to get to the final VC you saved!


  4. Matt Kloskowski 9 November, 2009 at 12:45 Reply

    Thanks Chris. I just want to clarify so that comment readers don’t get confused. The 3rd point is accurate. When you edit a raw file in Photoshop you get a copy. There’s no way around it. Sure you can throw smart objects in there to finesse how available your raw edits are, but the main stumbling point I see when teaching people is the fact that you will always get a copy. There’s no actual way to edit the raw file in Photoshop without making one.

    – Matt

  5. Simon Grosset 9 November, 2009 at 12:16 Reply

    I always convert to dng format when I import into Lightroom. Is there any way that the history of each image could be saved into the dng format? If not, is that something Adobe could be encouraged to provide in the next generation dng?


  6. Chris Beaumont 9 November, 2009 at 11:58 Reply

    Hi there … just wanted to let you know that your 3rd point isn’t entirely accurate. If you choose to edit in Photoshop by selecting “Edit as SmartObject in Adobe Photoshop CSX …”, then the image that is opened up in Photoshop will have as it’s only layer a SmartObject layer containing the RAW file. From there you’ll be able to make changes to the RAW dialogue whenever you want, even after you’ve added adjustment layers etcetera. No rendering is done from Lightroom to Photoshop, and when you save the file, it will of course have created a duplicate file in your Lightroom catalog in your preferred file format, but when you re-open this file, you will still have access to the RAW dialogue window and be able to make changes to it from within Photoshop.

    Nice article and I like the site, just thought I’d throw that one in there. I only discovered it recently and have found it incredibly useful.



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