Lightroom Publish Services

Lightroom Publish Services

This article describes in detail how to use the Publish Service feature in Lightroom. Publish Services let you with a single click export multiple collections into hard drive folders (as jpg files with a specified size), add to the collections, and change export parameters and re-export. For example, I have the following collection:

Portfolio (name of Publish Service and name of top level folder)

  • * Landscape (used for Landscape photos in general)
  • * Cityscape
  • * Nightscape
  • * Portfolio (used as a short list of the best of the best)
  • * Family
  • * Other
  • * Web (I use a single collection and determine the size and resolution when I publish or re-publish)

Note * indicates a “Smart Folder” which is created by Publish Services in setup.

The process to set this up requires several steps but once done will save much time and keep your jpg collections tidy and more important easy to find. I suggest that to start you decide on your first collection, the sub folders you will use, and then create a keyword set with the collection name and the key words for each folder. See “Keyword” tutorial if this is new to you. Then create a top level folder wherever you want to keep it. I am going to use a folder in the Window Pictures Library, but you may want to put this on an external hard drive.

Assign the keywords to a few photos. For photos to show up in this exercise be sure to put “Portfolio” and one other such as “Landscape”. Try to assign photos to every category.

I have talked to/ read of photographers that put their RAW files (as modified in Lightroom and Photoshop) on one external drive (called the negative drive using old school film terms). Then they put the jpg files on a second external drive (called print drive, also sort of an old school name). This organization leads very nicely to the process described in this tutorial. However I see no reason to keep every jpg as they can easily be generated at the push of a button. However if you have different versions of a single image it is important to create a virtual copy in Lightroom and make the changes on it. This will always give you a “source” file to create a jpg if you need to make a new print for a customer or post it on a web site.

Now with the keywords defined in Lightroom, create  a top level folder somewhere on your system. I like to put a number as the first character just to make this folder show up on the top of the list when viewing.  It is time to set up your Publishing Service which I am going to describe for the “Portfolio” collection above. Follow each of the steps exactly.

Step by Step:

  1. On the Publish Services tab on the left of the Lightroom panels, click the “+”
  2. Go to the Publish Services Manager
    1. Toward the bottom left, click on the button “Add”
    2. Give it a name in the pop up box (I am using Portfolio for this example
    3. Click Create
    4. Select the location to previously created top level folder (I created a folder in the Windows Pictures library folder called “1Portfolio”. Uncheck the “put in sub folder” check box
    5. Set up the rest of the parameters (I selected to leave file name unchanged, Image Format JPEG, sRGB, Quality 80. Image Sizing checked Resize to Fit box, selected “Long Edge”, 1200 pixels, Resolution 240 pixels per inch. No Output Sharpening (your choice),Metadata Include Copyright & Contact Info Only. I personally hate Watermarking, so I do not check the Watermark box. You will be able to change everything but the Location and File Naming at any time after creating this Publish Service. I understand that Naming can be changed but there may be other considerations.
    6. When finished with settings click “Save”
  3. Now there will be a new Publish Service portfolio with a folder named Lightroom Publish Service as entered in 2.1 above.
  4. Right click on folder and click “Create Published Folder Set”
    1. Give it a name. (it will then show up on hard drive as folder under 2.1) In my case this name will be “Portfolio Images”.
  5. Right click on folder (created in 4.1)and select “Create Published Smart Folder”.
    1. Name it. (in my example the names will be Landscape, Cityscape, Nightscape …)
    2. Set the keywords for the collection (i.e for Landscape, I will have at least “Landscape” and “Portfolio” as keywords.
    3. Be sure that the “Set:” box has the top level name (ie. The name that shows on the newly created Publish Services bar)
    4. Repeat step 5 for each of the names in the list
  6. You should now that the smart folders setup in 5 will have some content. (as long as you assigned keywords prior, if not do it now)
  7. Click on the folder 4.1 ( in my case “Portfolio Images”)
    1. You will see the photos in the smart folders.
    2. To publish them, click the “Publish” button in the upper right corner above the images. This will convert the raw images to jpg as defined by the publish service setup in 2.
    3. Now if you look at your hard drive and go to the top level folder, you will see under it a folder with the name you created in 4.1 (in my case “Portfolio Images”). Under this will be folders with the names of the Smart Folders created in step 5. In each of these will be jpg files with the parameters setup when creating the Publish Services.

To add a new photo to the Portfolio collection, simply add the appropriate keywords, click on the Publish Services folder, and click Publish. You will now see this jpg image on the hard drive.

To remove a photo, first remove one of the key words from the image, then go to the Collection Set folder and click the Publish button near the bottom left of the panel.

Now if you want to change all of the images, you can do it with One Click!

To change the parameters (such as jpg size) of a collection, simply right click on the Publish Service tab and select edit. Change the parameters and click “Save”, select “Republish All” on the popup box, and publish. Now all of the jpg files will have the new parameters!


Now that you have created a Publish Services, you can create several more to deal with specific topics such as Family, Yosemite, San Francisco, etc. I try to put the best of the best in my Portfolio. If I tried to put all of the Family there it would quickly become very large which would result in long publish times.

There is a great video produced by Mark Wallace/Adorama TV called 5 hidden gems in Lightroom. It covers 5 things to help you use Lightroom including Publish Services.  Jimmy McIntyre has a new letter which features both his work and tutorials, and tutorials by others. Jimmy’s web site is Shutter Evolve.