How do I send someone a .CR2 raw file with Lightroom adjustments applied?
In that way someone could open the raw file in their Lightroom and see what development settings I have used, apply other adjustments and send it back to me such that I can evaluate it and work further on it.


You can export to a DNG file which is not a CR2 file, but is a digital negative (RAW file). It isn't the original Canon format, but should contain most of the same information, if not all of it (it also has an option to embed the original). I believe that the DNG will have the Lightroom alterations applied to it. You can export it using Export and choosing DNG as the format.

  • Will the alterations be applied to in a way that it is still traceable what has been done? E.g. I apply an exposure correction of +1 EV and someone opens the exported DNG on another machine. Will he see the exposure slider set to +1, or will the image just be brighter but the exposure slider reset to 0? May 28 '13 at 13:19
  • @BartArondson - I am unsure. I've never personally used it. A simple experiment should show what the behavior is though. My Lightroom install is currently unavailable or I'd check.
    – AJ Henderson
    May 28 '13 at 13:25
  • The DNG file export works flawlessly. When importing it again the adjustments are traceable. May 28 '13 at 21:45

All changes are saved in xml "sidecar" file. Raw file is never touched.*

So you send him both files and then you can exchange only the small xml file that holds all changes.

[*] Unless you use DNG format and you set "do not use sidecar file, modify DNG file instead" option.

  • Thanks you for your answer. Could you elaborate on where I find the sidecar file? Do I have to extract it from the LR library? Or do I specify at export that I want a sidecar? Can I just simply place the xml and cr2 file in the same directory and then import the cr2 file? May 28 '13 at 13:05
  • 2
    It is in the same folder as the raw file, with the same name, you can't get at the from Lightroom, you would need to use Finder/Explorer.
    – LC1983
    May 28 '13 at 18:02
  • 1
    Depending on your catalog settings, you may have to save the metadata explicitly (control-S with the photo selected in Lightroom) to generate the XMP file.
    – coneslayer
    May 28 '13 at 18:55
  • Your solution works as well, but for this answer to work I needed the comments of LC1983 and coneslayer, hence I chose AJ Henderson's solution as that was right in one go. May 28 '13 at 21:47
  • Well, I have provided solution that is quickest (no exports needed), most robust (you don't alter original raw file) and uses very low network traffic (sidecar file is a few kilobytes in size). You can use DNG format offcourse, but don't embeed the settings - in that case you will need to transfer huge file every time and your backups will also grow huge. I could edit my answer and copy information from comments but I think it is not necessary - it's about the idea and thinking about consequenses. But your problem is solved, thats what counts. Glad to help, wish you good light. May 28 '13 at 23:17

In Lightroom you can store the development settings (Lightroom settings you have applied to an image) as a Preset. This Preset can then be shared with other Lightroom users together with your raw photo.

This YouTube movie shows you how to create presets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFuz0IwcyLs

Once created you can right-click on a preset and choose Export to save it to a .lrtemplate file.

The person you are sending your photo to, can then import .lrtemplate into their own Lightroom installation, import your photo, and apply the template to the photo.

Hope this answers your question.


  • That is a bit of a long winded way of doing it. Sidecar file/DNG would do the job.
    – LC1983
    May 28 '13 at 18:03
  • Since Bart asked about sending a CR2 file to a friend, the 'sidecar/DNG' option would require him to convert his CR2 file to DNG - I am not sure if that was what he wants...
    – Jack
    May 28 '13 at 18:15
  • If he uses a sidecar file, he doesn't have to convert to DNG. The slash should be interpreted as "or" in this context--either send the CR2 & XMP sidecar, or convert to DNG and send that.
    – coneslayer
    May 28 '13 at 18:39

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