In the macOS Photos app, select one or more photos and then choose > File > Export > Export 1 Photo. A popup dialog appears with options for the exported image:

enter image description here

Accept the defaults then choose Export, at which time a second dialog appears asking where the images should be stored. This also applies if you use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-E.

This is a bit of a pain when exporting lots of images in a session, especially since I always take the default options on both dialogs.

Are there any options or tricks for avoiding these dialogs, or at least removing the first dialog (perhaps via a default export setting)?

As an example, in Adobe Lightroom there is the ability to create an Export Preset, which doesn't require any confirmation or interaction. Lightroom can also Export With Previous which also doesn't require further confirmation after the first time it's used. Is anything like this available in macOS Photos?

Adobe Lightroom has export options which don't require interaction

  • Not really an answer, but I just drag them to the desktop [or open folder] which saves the current edited version, no dialog required.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 16, 2017 at 12:47
  • If you are always accepting the defaults then why not just press: [Shift][Command][E]-[Enter][Enter] Dec 16, 2017 at 12:51
  • 2
    I could drop it in as a potential answer, in case no-one comes up with a better option.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 16, 2017 at 13:05
  • Sorry, but when you said "and then choose > File > Export > Export 1 Photo.", I assumed you were mouse clicking through things and why I suggested just using keystrokes. That said, anytime I have something repetitive to do I script it in one form or another. An Automator Service come to mind using either what Photo actions are available or an AppleScript action. Dec 16, 2017 at 13:25
  • I've updated the code in the answer and added additional info after the Note: Dec 17, 2017 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


As I mentioned in a comment, anytime I have something repetitive to do, I script it in one form or another, and this is how I handle your scenario.

In Automator, create a new Service workflow with the following settings:

  • Service receives no input in Photos

Add a Run AppleScript action.

  • Replace the default code with the following example AppleScript code:

    set thisLocation to (path to desktop)
    tell application "Photos"
        set theseItems to selection
        if theseItems is not {} then
            -- # Remove the '--' from in front of 'with' to export the original files.
            export theseItems to thisLocation -- with using originals 
            display dialog "No files were selected to export!" buttons {"OK"} ¬
                default button 1 with title "Nothing To Do" with icon 1
        end if
    end tell

Save the Automator Service workflow, e.g.: Export Selected Files

Assign a keyboard shortcut for it, in:

System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services > General

  • Example: Export Selected Files       ⌃⌘E

Now in Photos, after having selected the file(s) to export, press ⌃⌘E and the selection is exported to the Desktop. No need to deal with multiple dialog boxes as when pressing ⇧⌘E.

Obviously this is just example AppleScript code and while thisLocation is set to the Desktop, nonetheless it can be set wherever you'd like, where the folder already exists. It just has to be in the form of an alias if not using any of the folder constant path to (folder) locations e.g.:

set thisLocation to alias "Macintosh HD:Temp:"

Also, on a side note, Automator offers a number of different actions for Photos and those along with other actions provided can make for nice solutions to some repetitive tasks.

Note: As stated, this is just example AppleScript code and can be modified as needed beyond modifying the value of thisLocation, as wanted, e.g. adding with using originals at the end of export theseItems to thisLocation, or other code as wanted. The onus is upon the User to add any error handling that may be appropriate and or necessary.

When using a Run AppleScript action in Automator, you may find it handy to test your AppleScript code in Script Editor, where you'll have access to the AppleScript Dictionary for Photos, in the Library available from the Window menu, or press ⇧⌘L in Script Editor.

  • 1
    that's exactly what I was looking for - many thanks for introducing me to the wonders of Automator. Now I'm off to automate the rest of my life... Dec 17, 2017 at 18:20
  • for bonus points, do you know what the Automator syntax would be for Export Unmodified Original? That would be useful for exporting raw images for processing in Lightroom Dec 17, 2017 at 18:39
  • 1
    @Stephen Lead, Yes it's in the "Note:", however it's: export theseItems to thisLocation with using originals. I've also updated the code in the answer and added additional info after the Note:. Dec 17, 2017 at 18:56

Perhaps not the best answer, but in case there are no better alternatives...

I just drag them to the desktop [or open folder] which saves the current edited version, no dialog required.
Multi-selections work, as well as single items.

  • Here's a possible issue with drag n drop... In Photos, when pressing ⇧⌘E, the default Photo Kind: is JPEG and if the selected photo is e.g. PNG, the drag n drop will be PNG not JPEG. Dec 16, 2017 at 14:33
  • Potentially, sure. tbh all I have in Photos is either pics from my phone, or already edited jpgs of completed Photoshop projects. I don't keep my 'important' photos in it.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 16, 2017 at 14:43
  • What’s the down side of dragging? I believe you don’t get to choose any export options and it resamples it JPEG with some middling compression level? Perhaps also reduce the pixel size? (in the past the drag to desktop reduced the size of raw images and format pretty dramatically since most people would then want to upload to web or email the images)
    – bmike
    Dec 17, 2017 at 17:10

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