Working with smart previews

Now I don’t know about you, but I have to keep my original photos on an external drive, due to the size of my photograph library…  Lightroom is great for this because you can build smart previews of your original images and Lightroom allows you to work on a particular photo via their smart preview feature, without having to have your hard-drive plugged in.  But that, unfortunately comes at a price.

You can’t edit any smart previews by sending them to Photoshop or Photomatix for instance,  via the Edit In function…  Drat, damn blast…  especially if you use Photoshop to add your watermark like I do.

Take this image for instance


Lightroom will add the watermark to the photograph no problems, but it won’t add a solid band at the bottom with your watermark… Like I like to use


The way I was processing my photos was by, doing the Export to my chosen folder, then right clicking the photo and then selecting Open With Photoshop…  Time consuming and a lot of clicking…  I am all for cutting down on keystrokes in order to get things done.

But this seemed like the only way of doing it.. until by accident I found a nifty little setting sitting at the bottom of the Export box, called Post Processing. So now I select an option of what I want to do after processing… and normally I choose Open in Adobe Photoshop.  

export post-processing options

And hey presto, when my export to my folder is complete, my image automatically opens in Photoshop and I can do my watermarking.  So now I don’t have to find the photo and then get it to open in Photoshop… its automatic… and a whole lot easier.

And the nice thing is I don’t have to have my hard-drive where all my original photos are stored, plugged in. This feature allows me to work easily just using smart previews and Photoshop.


Written by Bren (Ryan-Photography)

Bren Ryan is a female amateur photographer and blogger who along with her husband, Ashley, have created a photography blog called Ryan Photography which showcases the places they've visited on their photography journey. Bren and Ashley primarily concentrate their photographic skills on landscape, architecture and floral subjects. Based in the South East of England they hope to give their readers an insight into the wonderful and beautiful landscapes, buildings and places that the South of England has to offer.


  1. Great idea.
    You could also create a print preset inside Lightroom print module that is large enough to give you a black band at the bottom. Then place your chosen image into the image cell and place your watermark into the black band left at the bottom. Then export from Lightroom ready for posting. 🙂


    1. I have been wondering for ages how to do it in Lightroom… and never could work it out… Many thanks for this tip, you are a star… I am off to have a go.


    2. I have set up two custom page templates for my watermarking and was doing well until I went to Print to File and you have to have the original source file…. it doesn’t work with smart previews… Oh well, it was worth a try. And I will definitely be using it when I have my external hard drive plugged in.


      1. Ah ha. I didn’t know that either. I keep my files on the computer until I’m done working that session, then move them to my hard drive. Then when I’m done, I move them to the hard drive from within LR. I’m not high volume right now so it works.


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