Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is an incredibly powerful piece of software straight out of the box. With it you can import your RAW image files, process them, apply non-destructive edits and export your finished photos. What you may not know is that it is possible to expand on Lightroom’s stock features with third-party applications called plug-ins.
Plug-ins are pieces of software that let you add new features to Lightroom. There are plug-ins that let you post images directly to social media sites, manage metadata, crop images for specific devices or edit images in external apps such as Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro. If there is a service or website you want to easily export photos to, or a feature that you wish Lightroom had, there is a good chance that someone has created a plug-in that can help you.
Plug-ins, like all software, have a variety of different pricing models. Some of the best plug-ins are free or pay-what-you-want, where as others can cost upwards of a hundred dollars. You can find plug-ins on the Adobe Add-ons website. Some Tuts+ tutorials will use specific plug-ins and they will always link to where they are available. You can also find plug-ins just by searching Google for whatever your need is plus “Lightroom plug-in”.
Adding a Plug-in to Lightroom
Find a plug-in you like and download the .lrplugin file. If you use 500px to share your images, I suggest you start with their Lightroom plug-in. The original download may be in an archive format such as .zip or .rar which you will need to extract to access the plug-in file.
If this is the first plug-in you have installed, create a Lightroom Plug-ins folder in a location where it won’t be deleted by mistake. Your Documents or Pictures folders are a good place, as is a dedicated Dropbox folder. Whatever location you decide on, drag the .lrplugin file to it.
Launch Lightroom and navigate to the Plug-in Manager. You can find it under the File menu. Click the Add button in the bottom left of the Plug-in Manager and navigate to where you’ve saved the .lrplugin file. Select the plug-on file and click Add Plug-in.
The plug-in has now been added to Lightroom. You may need to provide some additional information or do some configuring before the plug-in will work fully. For example, the 500px plug-in requires that you provide your login details.
You can also use the Plug-in Manager to disable plug-ins you no longer use as well as modify their settings.
In this quick tip I’ve shown you how to add plug-ins to your copy of Lightroom to add additional functionality. Lightroom is an awesome program already and Adobe’s support for third-party developers’ software makes it even better.
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