Uses for that Post-Processing Panel on Export

Way down at the bottom of the Export dialog is the lonely Post-Processing panel. I use it all the time, but I feel like it is one of the most underrated options people consider when exporting copies from Lightroom Classic. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do beyond leaving it set to Do nothing.

Open in File Browser

One of the most common ways I use it is to have it open my operating system’s file browser (Finder on Mac and Explorer on Win) to show my exported copies.

This gives me a nice visual confirmation that the process is done and lets me verify the files are where I want them and that they’re configured the way I expected.

Open in Photoshop

Sure, you most commonly use the Photo > Edit in > Edit in Photoshop command, as do I, but what if there were times where you wanted to simply open a photo into Photoshop in a different file type, color space, pixel dimension, etc. then what was possible via the Edit in Photoshop workflow? Maybe you don’t really need to send a 16 Bit Prophoto RGB TIF to Photoshop just to do some minor tweak on the way to sending someone a JPG? Why not give this a try?

You can even configure the exported copy to be added back into the catalog via the Export Location panel. Consider it a more configurable alternative to the Edit in Photoshop command.

Open in Your Secondary External Editor

If you’ve installed other third-party external editors (like Nik, OnOne, etc.) or manually created additional external editor presets (like I talked about last week), then the preset that is selected on the Preferences > External Editing tab will show below Open in Photoshop in the After Export drop-down menu.

In my case I had my preset for Photoshop Elements selected in my preferences, so that is what is available in that menu. Just change the preference setting if you want to have a different program available. Or, see the next section for selecting another application that may not even be an image editor.

Open in Another Application

The options available here are entirely dependent on what applications you have installed and what you might use in your workflow, so here are just some examples to consider.

I was recently asked if it was possible to send a photo via text message from Lightroom Classic, and I know at least on a Mac, you can send a photo right from Lightroom Classic to the Messages app by using the Open in Other Application option in the Post-Processing panel. The process I’ll outline here works for other applications too (but note that not all applications may accept photos sent from Lightroom Classic, so you’ll have to experiment).

  1. Select the photo(s) you want to include in your export.
  2. Click the Export button, and configure the Export dialog as desired (such as a resized JPG in sRGB in this case) for your reason to export.
  3. Expand the Post-Processing panel and choose Open in Other Application from the After Export drop-down menu.
  4. Click the Choose button, and navigate to where your applications are installed (the Applications folder on Mac and Program Files on Windows).
  5. Select the actual application file you want to use (in this case I selected the Messages.app file).
  6. Click Export to complete the process and pass the exported photo(s) along to the next application.

What about sending off a selection of photos to Adobe Acrobat to create a PDF to send to a client? What if you’d rather open the destination folder in Bridge to view the exported copies instead of your system’s file browser? What if you wanted to pass off a full resolution copy to the cloud-based Lightroom to upload it to the cloud for sharing? These are just some things that I have done and found useful. You will surely think of other examples.

Note, it does seem to help to have the destination application open before clicking the export button in Lightroom Classic to ease the hand off, and as you try different programs you may find that not every one works as you would expect.

Pass Through a Droplet

Do you use actions in Photoshop? Have you ever turned an action into a droplet (think of it as turning an action into an executable file that you can drag and drop photos onto to run them through the action)? Well, once you create a droplet you can configure the After Export drop-down menu to choose your droplet as the last step of the export process, which then runs those copies through the droplet.

Julieanne Kost has an excellent video on the process of creating an action, saving that action as a droplet, and then putting in the location Lightroom Classic needs it to be to see it in the After Export drop-down menu. You’ll notice in the video that based on the version of Lightroom Julieanne is using that this feature has been around for a long time.



  1. Jeff W. 15 February, 2020 at 02:05 Reply

    I have re-created some droplet actions in Photoshop 2020 which I used for years in CS5 and CS6 without any issue. The actions have been properly saved in the Export Actions folder in the Library on my Mac for Lightroom. The issue I am experiencing is that Photoshop IS NOT opening and running the actions when I direct Lightroom to do so as part of the Export Post-Processing option in the Export dialogue box opened from the Library module at the bottom-left corner of the screen. Help?!?

  2. Jason Waltman 7 February, 2020 at 01:40 Reply

    Is there a way to run more than one post-processing step? I have a script I like to run which strips out certain metadata, but I’d also like to run a droplet. It doesn’t seem like that’s possible, unless I’m missing a way to add a second post-processing step?

      • Jason Waltman 7 February, 2020 at 13:08 Reply

        Thanks, Rob. Good to know I’m not missing anything. My script runs exiftool to allow me to have finer control on exported metadata than what Lightroom allows natively. The script is lightweight and didn’t require an additional plugin, but I could probably install Jeffrey Friedl’s Metadata Wrangler plugin to do the same thing, freeing up the post-processing step for a droplet.

        It would be a nice though if multiple post-processing steps were allowed. I can see running a droplet and opening the export folder, for example, might be a pretty common use case.

        Hmm…need to look through the LR feature request page now…

    • Callmebob 8 February, 2020 at 14:02 Reply

      Jason –

      LR will export a filetype of your choosing as well as the full drive path location for it.
      Your .bat file can see that full pathname as %1% so you can reference it in your commands.

      If your process is pretty simple and you don’t change the name, you can use that variable for the second step too. (otherwise you’re a wizard and rebuild the filename to whatever you want it to be and use your own custom variable however you need to).

      I have my .bat in a tools folder and point at that from “Open in Another Application”

      Example bat file that expects a .jpg to be exported to it from LR, runs exiftool to make the artist tag be CallMeBob, then passes that modified file of same name still up to PS via the droplet :

      “C:\Users\YourUser\Desktop\exiftool” -artist=CallMeBob %1%
      start “” /w “C:\Users\YourUser\Desktop\PhotoTools\Image Automation\SaveAsPng.exe” %1%

      Those paths are just where I have tools located, nothing special about them.
      Your exif process will vary of course, but infinitely doable if you really know the exiftool command options etc.

      My droplet is the SaveAsPng.exe, which I needed a lot but at the time LR didn’t export in that format.
      It just opens PS, and saves the jpg name sent it as a file with the name .png.

      All the double quotes around filenames is about is preserving the spaces in long filename/paths.
      The pair at the start is to not give the window created in second step a title…

      Hopefully this will get you started as a really simple example.
      Rob is free to give my email Jason if you want it .

  3. ButchM 6 February, 2020 at 10:00 Reply

    I use the Post Processing panel quite often passing images through a droplet for converting images to CMYK and/or custom B&W conversions to custom profiles for offset printing since at least Lr v3 maybe earlier. (can’t recall exactly when the feature was included). However, relying on rarely used features such as this can be a double-edged sword. While they can be very valuable assets, they are of little use when Adobe employs less than adequate pre-release testing when they break them.

    Using this workflow during the lifespan of Lr v6.x proved very problematic because Adobe introduced a flaw/bug/conflict that broke the use of droplets and it took them about four tries to correct the issue … so I paid about 6 months worth of rental but was forced to roll back and utilize a much older version of the app until they finally found the correct remedy.

    For that reason I never implement automatic updates or install any new version for at least a month after release to be sure my long established workflow is not interrupted.

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