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20. Edit iPhoto Photos in Lightroom or Import iPhoto Files to LR

iPhoto users, have you wondered about integrating iPhoto with your normal workflow?

I know there are folks out there who are long time iPhoto users who import and organize in iPhoto, and then edit in Elements.  Lots of others have asked how to move their photos from iPhoto to Lightroom.  These tips will help.

First up is for people who do use iPhoto, but want to be able to edit their photos in Elements (or Lightroom) from time to time.

How to edit iPhoto pix in Elements or Lightroom

Go to the iPhoto menu and select Preferences.  On the advanced tab, click on the menu next to Edit Photos.  Select Other and navigate to Lightroom or Elements.  Now, when you right click on a photo in iPhoto, you will have the option to edit it in an external editor.  Using this option will take your photo directly into LR or PSE.

Want to change your external editor?  It’s not obvious how to do it, but it is possible.  Click on the Edit Photos drop down menu again in Advanced Preferences, and then click on “in Lightroom.”  The navigator window will open for you to select different software.

How Export All Photos from iPhoto to Lightroom

If you’ve been an iPhoto user for a while and are moving to Lightroom, you might want to import your old photos into Lightroom.  This isn’t a relationship that can be synchronized continuously, at least not easily.

Your best bet at this point is to give up iPhoto.  Export all of your photos out of it and them import them into Lightroom for all future organization and work.

To export from iPhoto, select your photos (use command A if you want all of them at once).  Go to the File menu and select Export.

I set Kind to Original – I have raw files that came from my camera to my iPad and then into iPhoto through Photo Stream.  Those Raw files will still be raw using this method.  If you want to export with subfolders, you can use the Subfolder Format field to select Event Name.

Next, import these exported photos to Lightroom.  You have imported new files to LR that are duplicates of the ones in iPhoto.  If you look at them again in iPhoto, you won’t see any edits you made in Lightroom.

And yes, your files are duplicated on your hard drive.  If you are concerned about hard drive space, you can delete your photos from within iPhoto.  Just make sure fir
st that they all imported into Lightroom correctly with any edits that you wanted to keep.

Next week I’m going to share the iPhoto/Lightroom news I’m most excited about.  The photos that I take on my phone now go directly into Lightroom, no matter where I am when I take them.  I use Photo Stream and iPhoto, plus a few Mac tricks, to make this happen.  You can too, next week!

20. Edit iPhoto Photos in Lightroom or Import iPhoto Files to LR was last modified: June 20th, 2015 by Erin Peloquin


  1. Tina Says :
    Posted on October 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Erin, I need help! I’ve been editing images in Elements 8 from iPhoto for a long time but then I had to rebuild my macbook. Now when I save the photos, it says they go into the iPhoto library (I can’t import them b/c iPhoto says it’s already there) but I can’t find them! Smart albums won’t find them. I do see them in my finder folder, but I can’t get iPhoto to recognize it. When opening from Finder, it says iPhoto can’t read the file. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! (iOS 10.6 iPhoto 09)

  2. Star
    Posted on October 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this I am thinking of purchasing LR 4 and just the thought of how to go about moving my photos from iPhoto boggeled my mind.

    • Erin Says :
      Posted on October 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      It’s not as bad as it could be, for sure!

  3. Kathy Roberson
    Posted on October 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for this! You’re such a great resource. 🙂

  4. christy Says :
    Posted on October 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This post is awesome since I’m an iPhoto user. My workflow is atrocious, going from iPhoto to a subfolder to LR, so hoping this will help me to organize a little better. Thanks once again for saving me some precious time!

    • Erin Says :
      Posted on October 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      I wouldn’t have guessed that you used iPhoto, Christy. Hope this helps!

  5. jan
    Posted on October 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    this is such a timely post for me. i just downloaded my free trial of lightroom and i have the scott kelby book as i try to determine whether or not i’m up for this. i’ve used iphoto for years but would like to go a step further with my editing. i have elements but can’t seem to get a hang of it….in all fairness, i haven’t really tried to learn it. i’m motivated now so perhaps i’ll be successful with lightroom. pinning this for future reference! thank you!

    • Erin Says :
      Posted on October 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      So glad I could help, Jan! Thanks for your comment!

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