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When you use the words Lightroom Classic plugin most photographers think of applications like the Nik Collection or Luminar that are used to develop photos.
But there’s another type of Lightroom Classic plugin you should know about, one that extends Lightroom Classic’s capability by adding features that it doesn’t have.
For example, you can install a plugin called Data Explorer (more details below) that adds over 250 search fields to the Filter bar in the Library module.
Now, that’s useful! But it’s only one example of what Lightroom Classic plugs can do for you. So let’s take a look at some other useful Lightroom Classic plugins. I’d be amazed if you didn’t find at least one of these helpful in some way.
By the time you’ve finished reading this tutorial, you’ll know about the places you can go to find Lightroom Classic plugins you may want to use yourself.
Jeffrey Friedl plugins
Jeffrey Friedl is a prolific Lightroom Classic plugin creator (I’m going to highlight a couple of my favorites). His plugins are donation-ware. They’re free to download and install, but stop working fully after six weeks unless you register them.
To register you need to make a payment using Paypal. The amount you pay is up to you but the minimum is just one cent. You can pay more if you’d like to make a donation to support Jeffrey’s work.
You’ll need to re-register any plugins you use whenever the version number of Lightroom Classic changes (i.e. from Lightroom Classic 9.0 to 10.0). As the minimum payment is one cent this shouldn’t be a financial hardship!
Data Explorer plugin
The Data Explorer plugin extends the search functionality of the Filter bar by giving you over 250 extra search criteria. As well as finding images that match the search criteria the plugin can also create Collections to save the search results in.
To give you an idea of the plugin’s potential, the screenshot below shows the result of a search for photos with Snapshots. It tells you right away that of the 431 photos in the Collection, 255 of them have no Snapshots, and the rest have at least one.
You can click the isolate button next to a particular figure to see which photos have that number of Snapshots, and create Collections based on the search results.
Snapshot on Export plugin
This plugin creates a Snapshot whenever you export a photo, whether it’s through the File > Export command or a Publish Service. Snapshots capture all the Develop module settings at a particular point in time and have lots of practical uses.
For example, let’s say you export a photo to send to a client, and that the client comes back to you in two years time to license it again, but no longer has the original photo file. You can use the Snapshot created at the initial export to provide a photo file identical to the original.
Or that you simply export a photo for some reason (perhaps you have a print made or upload it to Instagram, Facebook or Flickr) and then you change the Develop settings. You don’t have to make many changes before you find it’s virtually impossible to figure out from the History panel what settings you used when you exported the photo. The Snapshot on Export plugin solves that problem for you.
The screenshot below shows the options available.
John Beardsworth plugins
John Beardsworth is a photographer and Lightroom Classic and DAM (digital asset management) expert who’s also created some useful plugins. Once again I’ll highlight some of my favorites. Most of his plugins cost between €8 and €20.
Search Replace Transfer plugin
If you’re a keen keyworder then you’ll love this plugin – it lets you search text in selected photos and replace it with alternative text, just like using a word processor.
With regards to keywords it helps you set up a consistent approach by letting you replace keywords you no longer wish to use with something else (for example, if you have added the keyword car to some photos and automobile to others, you might want to replace automobile with car so your keyword use is consistent throughout your Catalog).
The plugin also has other uses, such as adding EXIF data fields as search options to the Filter bar, or adding custom fields to your photos that you can use in searches and to set up Smart Collections.
Big Note plugin
This plugin is free and adds an extra field to Lightroom’s Metadata panel where you can type anything you want. It’s the ideal place for keeping notes about your photos. For example, I often keep a note of which filters I used for a particular photo, and add the details to this field so I don’t lose it.
The Photographer’s Toolbox sells plugins written by Timothy Arnes, John Beardsworth (again) and Matt Dawson. They are not free, but you can test them out by downloading them and using them (within the trial limitations). Some of them, such as LR/Mogrify 2, a plugin that exports your images with borders, watermarks or text annotations, are donation-ware, letting you decide how much you would like to pay.
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Other useful Lightroom Classic plugins
Here are some other useful Lightroom Classic plugins that we’ve already covered in other tutorials. To keep this article readable we’ve provided a brief description of each plugin plus a link to the full tutorial.
Excessor Lightroom Classic plugin
Use this plugin to automatically apply Lightroom Classic Develop Presets to a single photo. The plugin creates a Virtual Copy for each preset so you can see the results of applying a set of Develop Presets without having to apply each one individually. A big time saver!
Opal Lightroom Classic plugin
Wouldn’t it be great if you could fade a Develop Preset, just like using the Opacity slider in Photoshop? Well now you can with the Opal plugin. It’s simply the best way to fade your presets that exists.
Finding duplicate images in Lightroom Classic
Finding duplicate images is harder than you might think and as a result there is no built-in duplicate image finding tool in Lightroom Classic. The Duplicate Finder and Teekesselchen plugins solve that problem for you.
How to install Lightroom Classic Plugins
The easiest way to install a Lightroom Classic plugin is to start by saving the uncompressed file in a folder on your computer’s hard drive. If you use the same folder for all your plugins, you will know exactly where to go each time.
In Lightroom Classic, open the Plugin Manager (File > Plugin Manager) and click the Add button in the bottom left-hand corner.
Go to the folder where the plugin’s saved, select it and click the Add Plugin button.
If you get a message asking you to update your Catalog, then click the Update button. From this point on the process may vary, so check the installation instructions that come with the plugin you have added to finish the installation and set-up.