How to Edit RAW Files in Photoshop From Adobe Lightroom

  • Thread starter EmeraldHike
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May 10, 2021
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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that discussed how to go about editing a photo in Adobe Photoshop that was initially opened in Adobe Lightroom. After the editing in Photoshop, the file can be saved and the changes applied to another file back in Lightroom. If you’d like to read that post, you can here:

How to Edit Photos in Photoshop From Adobe Lightroom

Now, what I failed to mention in that post was that the process I described applied to JPEG files and not RAW files. While both situations have the almost identical necessary steps, there are a few minor differences. And because of a helpful suggestions from a reader, I decided to go ahead and write a post where I can walk through the steps necessary to edit a RAW file in Photoshop while working in Lightroom.

In today’s post, I’ll follow a similar scenario to the one I already followed in my previous post. I’ll select a RAW file in Lightroom, open it for edit in Photoshop, make a change or two, save it out and view the changes in a new TIF file back in Lightroom. I’ll then head back into Photoshop for further edits, which is where things get interesting. If you’d like to find out how so, please read on!

RAW File in Lightroom​

I’ve already got a RAW file imported into my catalog in Lightroom. I’ll show it to you in the screenshot below. It’s a photo I took of a rainbow I saw in my back yard just yesterday. We had a sun shower and bam, there it was. I had to quickly run inside to grab my camera. By the time I got back, it was disappearing, but luckily, I was able to get something.


If you look closely, you’ll see which photo I’m referring to. It’s highlighted in light gray because it’s selected. The larger and smaller thumbnails are of the same photo.

Editing the RAW File in Photoshop​

To launch this photo from Lightroom into Photoshop, I’ll first make sure I’ve selected it by clicking on the thumbnail. Then, I’ll head up to the Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 menu item and select that.


Once I do that, the photo will immediately jump over to Photoshop and open in a new tab there.


As it stands right now, no additional files have been created. In earlier versions of these two applications, a TIF file would have appeared in the same Lightroom catalog as the original file, but in these latest versions, in order to see that TIF file, I’d have to first save the file in Photoshop. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Editing in Photoshop​

I’m going to go ahead and make a few small changes. As you may have noticed, this original photo is extremely dull. It’ll need some color and contrast. It also needs cropping. With this in mind, I’ll go ahead and take advantage of two adjustment layers, the Crop Tool and a bit of smart sharpening.


I’m not expecting miracles with this photo – all I want is to see a difference and to make a few changes.

After I’m finished, I’ll go up to the File > Save menu item in Photoshop and select that. By doing this, a TIF file will be created in the Lightroom catalog.

Back to Lightroom​

At this point, I’d like to go back to Lightroom to see if the new file with the changes I made in Photoshop has been created. I’ll do that now.


Just as expected, the TIF file is sitting right next to the RAW file. The RAW file is the original unedited version and the TIF file has the changes I made applied to it.

Editing Again in Photoshop​

Here’s the thing – we all know that as we edit, we change our minds. How many times have you made a change and then changed that change to something else? I do that all the time. The chance that the edits I just made in Photoshop are final is pretty small. At this time, I can either edit the TIF file in Lightroom and continue on my merry way or I can open the TIF file back up in Photoshop for further editing. I think I’ll go ahead and open that file back up in Photoshop. But wait – what about those adjustment layers? Are they still going to be there? Let’s see.

To launch the TIF file back into Photoshop, I’ll need to go back up to the Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 menu item and select it. This time, something different is going to happen. When I click on the menu item, I’m presented with a few choices inside a dialog box. Look familiar? The choices are the same as they were for when you launch a JPEG file into Photoshop from Lightroom. Since I already covered them in my previous post, I’ll copy and paste them here.


Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments – This choice will bring a copy of the current version of the photo into Adobe Photoshop. All the edits that were made to the photo in Lightroom will remain intact.

Edit a Copy – This choice will make a copy of the original photo and import that copy into Photoshop. No edits made in Lightroom will be visible in Photoshop.

Edit Original – This choice will import the original file, with no edits made in Lightroom, into Photoshop for editing.

If I had made any changes to the TIF file in Lightroom, I’d definitely want to select the first choice. Since I haven’t made any changes and the “original” file we’re referring to here is the TIF file, I’ll select the last choice. I’ll do that so we can see if the adjustment layers are still available in Photoshop.

Back in Photoshop​

Well wouldn’t you know it. The file looks just like it did when I saved it the last time I was in Photoshop. All the adjustment layers are intact.


It appears that the adjustment layers are fully functional with the settings I made earlier saved perfectly. The data I cropped out is also still available. Boy, TIF files are wonderful.


There’s one last thing I’d like to check. If you remember back to the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I did a bit of smart sharpening to the image. If this was a perfect world, my entire history would still be recorded in the History panel. Let’s see what that looks like now.


That’s interesting. The history is gone. This is important to remember. Once you save a file and close it out of Photoshop, the history is erased. So, if you make changes to a particular layer, such as sharpening, those changes are there to stay, so be careful with that. Otherwise, you can flip back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop as much as you want.

I hope this post helped clear some things up. I’m actually planning on writing a few more related posts that will discuss different types of files in similar situations, so stay tuned.