Ah, the joys of photo editing. As much fun as it is to be out in the world for a shoot every chance you get, there’s something remarkably soothing about the post-production phase that is quite enjoyable.
Maybe it’s just the chance to relax after a long shoot and review the great images you captured, or maybe it’s the opportunity to turn your compositions into masterpieces that speaks so strongly of zen and meditation – but whatever it is, editing should be an enjoyable phase of the photography process.
Unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t always the way it plays out. It gets a lot less ‘zen-y’ really quickly when you find yourself doing the same edits 500 times in a row and you want to throw your mouse through the computer screen out of sheer frustration. Not very relaxing at all – but there is hope.
Those of you who do your edits in Photoshop will probably know about the Batch tool, which can be used to apply various actions and other repeat edits to an entire folder’s worth of images. If you’re more a fan of Adobe’s photographer-centred editing program Lightroom, you’re still able to batch edit your images with ease.
Let’s take a quick look at how you can join the batch editing party, shave hours off your editing time and rediscover your enjoyment of the post-production process.
Batch Editing in Lightroom with Sync
Batch editing with Lightroom is so incredibly simple, you’ll be blazing through your editing queue in no time at all. This tactic works best when you’re working on a single shoot of images that share a consistent lighting pattern, so that your batch edit will successfully cover as many images as possible.
Fire up the program and load up the first image from your latest shoot in the Develop module. Make any and all edits you want to be applied to all your other images.
Then, move down to the filmstrip section of Lightroom that runs along the bottom of the window.
Hold down CTRL and click any of the other images you want to include in your batch edit. If you want to select all the images in your latest import or current collection, just press CTRL+A (‘Select All’, which works in most Windows and Mac programs).
Now it’s time to apply your settings. There are a couple of ways to do this, but the easiest is to find the Sync button in the bottom right corner of your Develop window:
Once you click the Sync button, you’ll be presented with the dialog box shown below. Choose any or all of the edits you made to your first image that you would like to apply to the rest of the images you’ve selected.
Click ‘Synchronize’, and in a few seconds Lightroom will have applied your settings to your entire selected batch of images. This may take a little longer depending on how many images you’ve selected, but you’ll see a progress bar in the top left of Lightroom, and the characteristic little ‘+ \ -‘ will appear in the bottom right corner of the thumbnails in the filmstrip for each image that has been edited.
If you’ve made a mistake, or you’d like to change your initial edits, you can undo the Sync by simply pressing CTRL+Z or going to the Edit menu and choosing ‘Undo’.
Once you’re done, you can go through your collection and tweak any of the individual images that need a little more personalised attention, but batch editing makes it infinitely easier to work with a large volume of images.
Other Ways to Copy Settings
If you’ve only got a couple of images that you want to apply the same set of edits to, you don’t have to go through the process of using the Sync tool if you’d rather not. You can, of course, but it’s only one way of applying settings across multiple images.
When you’re in the Develop module, edit your first image however you would like. You then have 3 different options to copy the settings you’ve made:
- Click the ‘Copy’ button at the bottom left of the Lightroom window,
- Click the ‘Settings’ menu and choose ‘Copy Settings’,
- If you’re in the Library module, you can still copy your settings by going to
That’s all there is to it! Lightroom makes batch editing far easier than it is in Photoshop, which requires the use of custom-made Actions as we discussed in a previous post. It may not be quite as powerful, but for day-to-day editing, it’s a great solution that will totally revolutionise your existing Lightroom workflow. Gone are the countless repetitive hours behind the keyboard, and instead you get a beautiful set of consistently-edited pictures with ease!
Multiply Your Batch Editing Skills With User Presets
Batch editing isn’t the only way that you can speed up your workflow. If you find yourself regularly make a few different sets of adjustments in the same way every time, you can save each of those sets of adjustments as a preset.
That way, you’ll have a one-click method to apply each of them, which could save you tons of time and hassle. Even if you make a preset for a simple contrast adjustment, turning a five-click procedure into a one-click procedure makes it five times faster!
Making your own presets is as simple as batch editing your images. Edit one image to your desired settings in the Develop module, and then on the left-hand side of the window where the ‘Presets’ panel is, click the small ‘+’ sign beside the word presets – the ‘Create New Preset’ button.
You’ll be shown a similar dialog to the Sync method, asking you which settings you want to include in the preset. Choose whatever is appropriate, name your preset something clearly identifiable, click ‘Create’ and you’re good to go! Your new preset will appear in the Presets panel under the ‘User Presets’ subsection.
Best of all, you can even apply your presets automatically when you import new photos to save even more time!