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How to Use Lightroom to Automatically Resize Photos for Facebook

If you’re digital camera is any good, it takes really big pictures. My Canon t1i is something like 15 megapixels, so the long side of an image is 4,752 pixels. This is nice for printing, but it’s over kill for the web. My widescreen monitor has a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels… which means that if I had 9 monitors set up in a 3×3 grid, I still wouldn’t be able to display every pixel of that original image (that would be 4,320 pixels across and 2700 pixels high).

This is one reason that photos used on the web are usually shrunk to a more reasonable size. Since your monitor can’t display all of the pixels, there’s no reason to waste bandwidth transmitting them, unless the image is eventually going to be printed. Facebook forces its images to be down-sized to a max length of 720 px. This means that either you need to shrink the images yourself, or you’re going to waste time and bandwidth uploading higher quality images so that Facebook can do it later.

Luckily, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom makes it easy to create a preset that will automatically resize the pictures as you export them.

First, click on the “Export” button in the left-hand panel. You could also right click on an image and choose “Export” from the contextual menu that pops up.

There are a number of options you can fiddle with here. Under “Export Location,” I choose to put the pictures on the Desktop and create a subfolder called “Facebook.” I don’t bother applying any kind of renaming to the files. Set these two settings any way you’d like.

Under “File Settings,” I don’t change much. The output format should be “JPEG,” quality should be relatively high but not too high (I used 85), and you should leave the images in a regular color space (I think sRGB is the default).

The key setting is “Image Sizing.” There are a lot of different options here, but we want to create an image where the longest size is 720 pixels. Make sure you click the “Resize to Fit” option, and then select “Long Edge” from the dropdown menu. In the single textbox, enter “720” and choose “pixels” from the other drop-down menu.  The resolution is irrelevant, so you can leave that at the standard 300 pixels per inch.

This would also be a good time to apply some output sharpening as the image leaves Lightroom. Since we’re viewing these images on Facebook and not printing them, check the sharpening box and choose “Screen” from the drop-down menu. I leave the other option at “Standard,” although I suppose you could try out “Low” and “High” to see what you like.

When you’re done, click on the “Add” button to the left, underneath all of the pre-sets. Give it a name (“Facebook” seems like a logical choice), click create, and you’re all set.

The next time you want to export pictures for Facebook, highlight them all, right-click and choose “Export,” and then choose “Facebook” from the user presets. This will automatically apply all of the settings we just chose, put the photos in the desired folder, and resize the images to the maximum allowable size.

You’re going to need to export your images anyway if you applied any kind of editing in Lightroom, so you might as well make use of a pre-set to resize the images while you’re at it.

Filed Under: How to Process Your Images

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. Karly says: June 14, 2011

    You are my hero! I have been searching the web up and down for this exact thing…thank you!!!

  2. chanon says: December 28, 2011

    The size facebook resizes to is now larger at 960 pixels.

  3. walkere says: January 1, 2012

    Hmm… good catch. I wrote this up a year ago, guess it’s time to write up a new version.

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About Digital Photography How To

Digital Photography How To is intended to be a guide to people learning how to use their digital SLR cameras. Three years ago, I had never picked up a camera; now, I produce a yearbook every year and I moonlight as a professional photographer.

I write this website to share what I've learned in that time. The topics will range from truly beginners topics, to tutorials for post processing, to resources for yearbook and graphic design, to thoughts on transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional. Keep up to date by subscribing to the RSS feed.

About the Author

Digital Photography How To is written by Brian Rock. In addition to being a photographer, he's an educator. He teaches high school history, he's the advisor of the school yearbook, and he trains his kids to do all of the photography for the yearbook.

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