About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Two Ways to Automatically Send Images from Lightroom (or Capture One) into Apple Photos

Two Ways to Automatically Send Images from Lightroom (or Capture One) into Apple Photos

If you’re on a Mac and you want to send your finished images from Lightroom (or Capture One) to Apple Photos, to sync to your devices for example, then you can do it manually by exporting from one application and importing into the other. This can be a bit tedious, but there are also some ways you can automate the process. This involves exporting to a folder in the finder from Lightroom or capture One, and having that automatically import into Photos. There are two ways to set this up.

Method 1: Use Automator

The first method is to use Apple’s own Automator tool. With Automator you can set up an automation on a folder that will run whatever actions you want every time an image is added to the folder. To set this up in Automator here’s what to do:

Step 1

Launch Automator. This will ask you do you want to create a new workflow. Choose “Folder Action” from the available options.

Step 2

This will create a blank action template. Now you just need to add the option to import images into Photos. In the library look for the Photos heading. Once you click on that you’ll get a list of available actions.

Step 3

Choose “Import Files into Photos” to add it to your workflow. Here you can set the option to import without adding to an album or you can set an existing album.

Step 4

At the top of the workflow you’ll see an option to “Choose Folder”. Select the folder that you want to use as a “watched folder”. This will be where you import into.

Step 5

Save your action.

Step 6

You can now test this by exporting images from Lightroom into the folder that you selected, and they should automatically import into Photos, although there can usually be a little delay.

Method 2: Use Hazel

Hazel is a wonderful little utility that I couldn’t live without on my Mac. It allows you to set up a number of watch folders and perform “rules” on them when items are added. It works like the rules in Mail, only instead of acting on emails, it acts on folders. One of the things you can do with it is set it to automatically add items to Photos, and it’s a little easier to set up than Automator. (Automator is free though!)

Here’s what to do: (Assuming you have installed Hazel and have it running).

Step 1

Open Hazel. You can do this from the menu bar if its running, or in your system preferences.

Step 2

In the Folders pane, click on the + button at the bottom to add a folder. Select a folder from the dialog that you want to use as your watched folder.

Step 3

In the Rules pane, click the + button to add a new rule

Step 4

This opens the New Rule sheet. Start by giving it a name in the Name field.

Step 5

We need to set a condition so that this will run. You can set this to anything that will trigger it but I usually set it to Date Added is in the last 1 Week. You could set up more complex rules here if you want but this should suffice.

Hazel Rules

Step 6

Set the action to “Import into Photos” from the pop-up list. You can also set an album here also if you want. When you’re finished click OK.

This will now scan the folder and anytime you put an image into it it will be added to Photos. This can take a little time to complete, especially if you copy a large number of images into the folder, but it runs in the background and you don’t have to worry about it.

Setting Up Lightroom

Whichever of these methods that you use the next step is to set up Lightroom to make it a bit quicker. You can create a preset to export directly into the folder that you have chosen at the settings that you want, and you can then call it with just a single menu item, and it will do everything else for you.

Here’s what to do:

Step 1

Launch Lightroom

Step 2

Select any image to work with, and then select Export from the File menu.

Step 3

In the export dialog box, set the following options:

  • Export To (Top of the interface): Hard Drive
  • Export Location > Export To: Specific Folder
  • Folder: Click on the choose button to select the folder you are using as your watched folder.
  • File Settings: Jpeg. Set the quality to 100% (recommended) and Colour Space to SRGB (this will be most compatible if you intend to use your images with multiple devices)
  • Set whatever other options you see fit. If you don’t want to export full resolution JPEGS you can set a size, but I recommend using full res, unless you have a really high megapixel camera.

Step 4

Now you want to save this as a preset. From the preset panel, choose “Add” and give it a name. Something like “Add to Photos”. You can now hit cancel to save your preset without exporting the image (or you can choose ok, if you want to test your workflow)

Step 5

You can now call this from the File > Export With Preset Menu at any time on any image or group of images.

Capture One

You can do the same in Capture One. All you have to do is set up a process recipe that achieves the same results. Create a new recipe that uses Jpeg as the format, and set the folder we chose in the first part of this tutorial as the Output Folder. Here are the settings that I use:

Once you set this up, you can just process images with this recipe and they should go straight to Photos. Obviously this will work with any software, and not just Capture One or Lightroom. All you have to do is save into the right folder to trigger the automation. An you can customise this to do whatever you want, whether that's creating a smaller version, or using tiff instead of Jpeg (not reccomended) and so on.


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T-Pan for Capture One: Black and White Style Pack now available

T-Pan for Capture One: Black and White Style Pack now available

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New Video: Enhancing a Photo in Capture One from Start to Finish