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Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Lesson 7 of 14

Linked Smart Objects

Ben Willmore

Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

7. Linked Smart Objects
This special method for creating a Smart Object will allow future adjustments applied in Lightroom to update the appearance of the layer in Photoshop.

Lesson Info

Linked Smart Objects

Now let's take a look at a different kind of smart object that's called a linked, smart object. Just like with normal smart objects, we will have kind of the entire contents of a file encapsulated into a layer, But in this case, it's not actually going to store the information in the Photoshop file itself. It will be stored in a separate file on your hard drive. It will in fact, be the original file. It's just linking to it. The advantage of that is, if we make any changes to that linked original file on our hard drives, the document that it's used in will be updated. So therefore, what I'm going to do as an example. So I'm going to use this template. I have four boxes here that I'd like to populate with different pictures, and maybe I'm not sure which image I want to use first. So I experiment with various images, and only after I've really decided which images work for this layout. Do I go back to light room and decide to process and optimize those images. And when I make those chang...

es in light room, if I used a normal smart object Photoshop would have no idea that I made any changes because there'd be no link between the original image in this version. But with a linked smart objects. Any changes I make in light room there, we can get to update this file. Let's take a look. So starting with my template, I'm going to open this file. I'm not going to open it as a smart object, though. I'm just going to choose photo edit in an edit in Photoshop. And this is what I'd like to edit a copy, because I want this clean version to remain unchanged, and I want to duplicate of it to work with so edit. A copy should be appropriate. Now I have it open. If you look at my layers panel, all we have here are some placeholders for our photos. They're just gray boxes, and we're going to end up putting a photo on top of each one of those. Then there's a way to clip them so the photos are contained within the same area. But let's go get those images. So I'm gonna go over here to light room and to get a linked smart objects a little different because if I grab one of these images, I choose photo edit in there. We have opened a smart object, but there is no choice for opening is a linked, smart objects. So we have to get a little fancy. What I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna move this window down so I can see Photoshop behind it. Now, if you can't move this window down, that's most likely because you're in a special mode and light room that allows you to have your light room fill your screen. And if I come in here to the window menu, you're going to find there's a choice called screen mode and I'm a normal mode. But if you're in one of these full screen modes, you probably won't be able to move that window down. So that's what I had to choose. That's what the way I usually work anyway. But just in case you're in one of these other modes, you might need to come up here and set it to normal. Then this becomes a floating window that you could move down. Now if I were to click on this image and just drag it over to that lay out in Photoshop. That's behind it, since that's a raw file camera raw comes up, I click OK, and it wants to know if I should scale the image and I could scale it to whatever size I want my press returner enter to say I'm done. And over here you see this smart object icon on top of the image. But that's a normal, smart object, not a linked one. So let me do that again. I'll use the exact same file in this time. I'm going to hold down the option key, that's all. It's in Windows and then I'll drag it over. Still, camera comes up, I click OK, and we're going to end up with a different result. I just need to press return or enter to indicate I'm done scaling the image. But first, why don't I scale it down to the appropriate size for one of these boxes? Maybe about like that? And then I'll press return or enter. But take a look in the layers panel. So this is a normal, smart object. It's not linked to the original file above that, though, we have a linked, smart object. That's what we want, So I'm going to throw away the other version of this image. And then let's go get three other images so we can populate this file. Return to light room, and I'm just gonna grab the next three images. I'll click on one and hold shift and click on the third. In fact, let's grab four, and I need to hold on the option key. If I want to link smart object that is Alton Windows. Then I drag over, and when you have multiple images, it will bring up camera for the first image you click OK, it will then want you to scale it. If when you scale it, you're not getting a proportional scale. Instead, you're squishing it one direction more than another hold shift that it depends on your preferences as far as what the behavior will be. Uh, how once I press return, it immediately grabbed the second image brought up camera raw for me, which I ignored because I'm not sure which pictures I wanted to use here yet. Uh, and now I'll scale that press return or enter, and it will repeat that for the next image, and I'm going to do that until all of these images have been placed. But if you look in my layers panel, you'll see that there's a link symbol on each one, which indicates I'm getting linked. Smart objects. Yeah, mhm. Now I have all my images in here, and I just want to clip them to the gray boxes that are in here. So what I'm gonna do is look, and I can see that this one here is the lower right box. So I want to find which image is in the lower right of this. And if I just look at the layer thumbnails, I can kind of see where they are. And I think this one might be because I don't see anything and there's a little yeah, so I just need to drag that so it's directly above the appropriate gray box, and then I can go to the layer menu, and there's a choice in here called Create clipping Mask, and that causes the layer I'm currently working on to only show up where the layer below it has content and therefore it clips it to that box. So then I'll grab the next image, which is this one of the upper right and I'll look for the upper right box and I'll drag it so it's directly above it. And then layer, create clipping mask. And when I do that, you'll find a little down pointing arrow to indicate that this layer is clipped to what's directly underneath. Then let's see if we can find another one that would be appropriate. This one looks to be in the upper right, so I'm going to find the box that is the upper. I'm sorry. Upper left. There is one of the way of doing this. Instead of going to the layer menu, you can put your mouse right on the horizontal line that separates the two layers. Hold down the option key, Alton windows and click. That's just a shortcut. Uh, it does the exact same thing, then. This image, I think, is for the lower left. I'll move it above the lower left box and again, option click on that line that separates. Once you've done that, you can still move these layers around if you use the move tool, and so I can reposition that to get it to fill the frame, and we have one additional layer here because I ended up dragging over five images instead of four. Uh, and so I'm just gonna grab that layer. I think it is this top one and I can clip more than one layer to a box. So let's find the upper left box. It's right here. That's what you l stands for its upper left. I'll put it right above it, and it automatically got clipped because there was already some clipping between those two layers so you can see two of them with a little down pointing arrows and so I can hide the top one. I think I prefer this now. Here I was picking images before I had optimized these files, and if I were to come in here in double click on this layer, it will bring me to camera raw, and I could adjust this like, let's say I bring down my highlights in here so I can actually see the blue sky. I bring up my shadows and do whatever else I think is going to make this image pop. And then when I'm done, I click OK, and it'll update that file. But now, if I return to light room and I look at that file, Let's find it right here. I don't see it updated. And the only thing, though I see, is this little icon and what that icon means. It's It's been updated using something other than light room. And if I click that icon, it's now going to ask me what to do with those settings that it just found on my hard drive. The settings that camera raw made and I can import the settings that were stored on my hard drive. And if I do now, this file updates. But I might not like working in camera raw. If I go back to Photoshop, let's say this image needs to be brightened. Well, I could find the image here, but I don't want to double click on it on this case because I don't want to use camera wrong. I want to use light room. So let's go back to light room and find the image. It's right here. Mm. And I'm going to go to the develop module and I'm going to change it here. Well, the problem with changing it here is this is not going to update that file over in Photoshop because where is it? The light room stores its changes Light room stores. Its changes in the light room catalog file in Photoshop just doesn't have access to that. So if I were to come in here and now, go back to my library after optimizing that picture, sure, I see it here in light room. But over in Photoshop, it's unchanged. How can I now get those changes are made in light room to update this. Well, this is linked to the original file on my hard drive, and all I need to do is over here in light room. Somehow get this to put its developed settings. All the changes I made in store them not just in the light room catalog file, but also the same way that camera walk raw wood. And I can do that by going to the metadata menu. And there's a choice called safe metadata to file. If I choose that it's going to create a separate little file in the same folder as the original picture, it's going to be end with the letters X M p. And that's exactly how camera raw wood store it's settings. So if I return to Photoshop, and it might take it just a second. But notice that that updated now so it was able to get the settings from light room if it ever gets stuck, and it just doesn't seem to update double click on the layer. It will bring up camera rob, but when it does, it will read in that X m p file and update it. But you shouldn't need to double click. Just pause for a moment and let it update. So that is a linked, smart object. Linked smart objects can be very useful. The main thing is, you have to hold down the option key, and you have to drag from light room Photoshop. If for some reason that doesn't work on your operating system and alternative is in Photoshop itself, you can go to the file menu and there's a choice called Place linked. And then you'd have to point it at wherever the original file is stored, and you'd end up with the same general result. Next, we're going to explore other choices of sending our images from Photoshop Light Room, and in this case, it's going to be opening those images as layers in Photoshop

Class Description


  • Optimize your settings and explore the multitude of options for round-tripping images between Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Apply adjustments in Lightroom that are usually only available in Photoshop.
  • Make multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments on layered files while retaining the ability to edit all the layers.
  • Mask an image in Photoshop and then transfer the result to Lightroom in order to preview how it would look on top of images in your catalog.
  • Teach Lightroom to automatically create complex layouts in Photoshop.
  • Work on your Lightroom images in Photoshop even when the originals are not available.
  • Learn tips and tricks to increase productivity.


If you’ve ever sent an image from Adobe Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop and have been confused by the choices of “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”, “Edit a Copy”, and “Edit Original”, then you’ll love this class from the start. After all, developing clarity on the fundamentals is essential before you can feel comfortable with Lightroom Classic.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom have unique strengths that become dramatically more versatile when they are used together. For instance, Photoshop’s advanced masking and layering capabilities are great when you want to replace a dull and boring sky. But, it’s only when you partner it with Lightroom’s ability to overlay a Photoshop image that you can experiment with various skies and interactively adjust the raw file until it looks like it belongs in the resulting image.

Once you have a solid feel for the strengths and limitations of each program, you’ll learn to push them and combine features to accomplish things you had no idea were even possible. This is Ben Willmore’s special gift: He gets you comfortable by relating the technical aspects to things you already know and use every day, which develops clarity. Then he guides you through real-world projects to help build your confidence before showing you just how far you can push the boundaries so you know what’s possible.

This class will help you:

  • Understand the preferences and choices that control how Photoshop and Lightroom Classic interact
  • Learn under which situation each option makes sense so you can always choose the best option for your images
  • Discover how uncommon features add a lot of functionality once you see concrete examples of their use
  • Eliminate the frustration of having Photoshop images not appear in your Lightroom catalog after editing
  • Understand how to round-trip your images while retaining Photoshop layers and multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments
  • See how Metadata conflicts can cause issues and how to resolve them


  • People who have Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop (not elements) installed and have some familiarity with the absolute basics of both programs.
  • Those who desire clarity, confidence and efficiency based on proven logic.
  • Please who want to develop versatile workflows that go beyond the basics.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (v10.2)

Photoshop (v22.3)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Lightroom Class Catalog and Images

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Fantastic, clear explanations of these features. i have a much better understanding of how to go back and forth between LR and PS. Thank you Ben. this is must watch class for anyone that uses LR and PS