I was recently taking part in a discussion about the relative merits of different software packages in a photography forum when one of the other Mac users said he managed his images in Aperture (for now) and then manually moved selected photos to the new Photos app for sharing.

Given Aperture is on death row, I have long since moved to Lightroom and I wondered whether I could automate the moving of selected images from Lightroom to Photos. It only took me 10 minutes and one extra piece of software.

The extra piece of software is Hazel, from Noodlesoft. Hazel watches folders and then matches files within, according to rules which can be simple or complex, and then takes action on them. The actions include a large range of traditional file managing options, but also some more powerful ones including, it turns out, importing images to Photos.

Armed with this ability and some knowledge of Lightroom presets, it’s a fairly simple task to set up the process. 

When importing to Photos you can either just import it into All Photos or you can specify an album. For my purposes I thought it made sense to create a single album explicitly for this process, called Lightroom. I can later move the images to other albums within Photos as I desire. If you’re going to do this, you’ll first need to create that target album in Photos.

Next, in Finder, create a new folder for the sole use of this process. I created one called Add to Photos in my Pictures folder. This will be where we tell Lightroom to place the exported images.

Now add the folder to Hazel, and then add a rule like this.

You could arguably also select videos for adding but I have elected to only move images. You could also leave out this matching as the folder is intended for this purpose only, but I like to have some sort of protection against adding goodness knows what I may accidentally put in that folder.

Note the first action is Import into Photos and the parameter is the album I created. This is selected from the drop-down list which is why you have to create the Photos album ahead of this step.

I’ve added a second action to trash the image file from the folder – I don’t want them building up in the folder as well as Lightroom and Photos.

You can test this much now by simply using Finder to drag an image into your folder and it should find its way into Photos. Note when Hazel performs this action the Photos app will launch. In my experience it did not become the active app, but remained in the background. You’ll probably want to close it down after you’ve sent some photos through this process.

OK, so now let’s do the Lightroom side of the equation. This is pretty simple to get working but you might want to spend some time tweaking to your tastes.

In Lightroom select a sample image and choose from the menus File > Export… to bring up the Export window. You may wish to choose an existing preset to set your options for how the image will be processed to save some work, but we’re going to create a new preset.

The one vital requirement for your export is that it place the resulting file in our special folder. Be sure the Export To: setting at the top says Hard Drive, then in the Export Location section, choose Specific Location and click the Choose… button to navigate to your folder.

That’s the only hard and fast requirement for this to work, but there are a couple of other items I recommend setting.

Under File Settings I recommend you choose JPEG and set a reasonably high quality. It’s likely these photos are going to be viewed on retina screen iOS devices, so you’ll want them to look crisp. JPEG files are also efficient on size, so you won’t be chewing up too much iCloud or hard drive space.

Under Image sizing I like to downsize my images. I’ve recently settled on my images being around 2000 pixels on the longest side when I publish them on Flickr, but that leads to rather large images when I crop square, so now I’ve taken to specifying megapixels. 2.7 megapixels comes out to 2008 pixels wide for a standard 3:2 ratio image. In any case, if you’ve got honking great 16 megapixel images coming out of your camera, you probably don’t need all of that in iCloud, so choose a sensible sizing option that works for you.

Have a look through the other options and set any as you see fit. I do a little manipulation of meta data and use a 3rd party plugin to add my watermark. Lightroom has a built in watermark function but I find it not quite flexible enough for my needs.

When you’re happy, click the Add button below the preset list to add your current settings as a new preset. I called mine Send to Photos app. Finally, hit the Export button and all going well your image should end up in Photos.

For future exports you don’t even need to see the Export window – simply select your photos and choose from the menus File > Export with Preset > Send to Photos app and whoosh! Off they go.

If you’d like different presets to send to different albums in Photos, then you can simply replicate this entire setup. A separate folder to be watched, a separate Hazel rule (targeting the relevant folder and album) and a separate Lightroom preset targeting the relevant folder.

Happy sharing!

Categories: How To


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