Home » How to Install Lightroom Presets (And Also Make Your Own)

How to Install Lightroom Presets (And Also Make Your Own)

How to Install Lightroom Presets

Images processed with Vintage Film presets

So you want to know how to install Lightroom presets?

The good news is I can tell you.

The even better news is I can tell you just how easy it is.

Here’s how.

Easily install Lightroom presets

1. Download the Lightroom presets you’re about to install. Since you’re reading a guide on how to install presets, I’m presuming you already have some in mind. But if not, may I suggest these 😀

2. Extract the files from the Zip file you’ve just downloaded. The easiest way to do this is by right-clicking on the Zip file and choosing ‘Extract Here’. If you extract them any other way, make sure you know where they are being saved to.

3. You should now have a normal folder (called Vintage Film Lightroom Presets if using mine) with the .lrtemplate files in. These are the files that we’ll import into Lightroom.

4. Open Lightroom and go into the ‘Develop’ mode.

5. Go to the ‘Presets’ window on the left of the screen and right-click anywhere on it.

6. Choose ‘New Folder’ and name it something like ‘Vintage Film’ (for mine), or anything else relevant to the Lightroom presets you’re about to install.

7. Right-click again on this new folder and choose ‘Import’.

8. In the window that pops up, find the folder you extracted from the zip, select the .lrtemplate files inside it, and click ‘Import’. The files will be imported straight into the folder you’ve just created in Lightroom.

And that’s how to easily install Lightroom presets.

It’s so simple, it’s not really enough for an article.

So, as a bonus for you, I’ll show you how to go one step further.

As well as knowing how to install Lightroom presets made by someone else, like the ones I made to give my photography the vintage film look you see here, how would you like to make your own?

How to make Lightroom presets

If you found installing Lightroom presets to be a simple task, you’ll have no trouble learning how to make them either.

Of course, making good Lightroom presets takes practice, but you can make a Lightroom preset in next to no time at all.

The latter is what I’ll show you how to do here.

A few useful tips and tricks will be included at the end, but I can’t tell you exactly how to make your Lightroom presets look.

All I can do is set you on the path and let you find your own style.

Here we go.

1. Open the photograph you want to edit in Lightroom and make sure you’re in the ‘Develop’ module.

2. Make whichever edits you want on your image, as you normally would in Lightroom.

3. Look at the Presets window to the left of the screen and click the + symbol next to the word ‘Presets’. The window that pops up is where you create your preset.

4. Name your preset and choose the folder you want to save it in. This could be ‘User Presets’, or you could create a new one.

5. Select the settings you want the preset to affect each time it’s used. I recommend selecting them all except for the ‘Auto Settings’ at the top.

6. Click Create to save your preset in the folder you specified earlier.

You now have a Lightroom preset of your very own.

However, to help you out even more, I’ll share some extra tips with you too.

Further tips for making Lightroom presets

Tip 1 – make sure your presets override all previous settings 

In step 5 of the process above, I mentioned checking all the boxes aside from the ‘Auto Settings’ ones.

This is to make your life much easier later on when you’re deciding which of your newly-created presets to apply to your photographs.

For example: if you didn’t check the ‘Colour Adjustments’ box, then your preset won’t alter the Colour Adjustments when applied.

This means that when cycling through your presets, you may not be getting the look they’re supposed to give.

If you apply a preset that does adjust the colour and then apply one that doesn’t, you’ll be mixing the colour settings of the first with all the other settings of the second.

The only way around this is to reset the photograph to its original state in between applying them which, as you can imagine, becomes very tiresome.

When cycling through your presets, it’s far easier when each one completely overrides all the effects of the last.

Checking all the boxes (except for the ‘Auto Settings’) when creating them ensures this happens.

Tip 2 – name and order your presets logically

If you give your presets weird and wonderful names like Instagram’s Valencia, Hudson, and Nashville, are you really making your life as easy as it can be when it comes to using them?

Better to be more descriptive, in my opinion.

The most descriptive would be things like Bright Contrast, Blue Hue, or Fade + Vignette. Or whatever look the preset is giving.

I went a little less dry with the names in my vintage film presets pack, but still used names that give some indication of what to expect.

Names like Vintage Contrast, Sun Shower, Contrast Mono, and Detail Mono, and 16 others that all do what they suggest they will.

Again, quite what Instagram’s Amaro, 1977, and Brannan will do I have no idea.

As well as naming your presets logically, I recommend ordering them well too.

When cycling through and deciding which to use, jumping from colour to monochrome to bright to faded to monochrome to faded to colour and back to bright makes settling on one far more difficult than it should be.

Having them in an order that gives incremental changes as you cycle through helps you narrow down the ideal one for the image you’re working on.

Tip 3 – build your presets on top of someone else’s

One great thing about Lightroom presets is the ability to make adjustments to them, and then save these adjusted settings as new presets.

This means you can use other people’s presets to get a head start with yours in a couple of ways.

The first way is to simply modify them.

You might love the presets you downloaded except for the amount of grain they apply.

So, just alter the amount of grain and save that as a new preset.

Perhaps they give too much green tint? Or too big a vignette? Or too little contrast? Or… anything, really.

You can alter anything and save it as your own preset.

The second way is to learn from presets you download by taking note of the settings they change.

This is how I first learned about playing with the RGB channels on the tone curve, for example.

Studying the methods of those who make presets available to you is the quickest way to get to the level they’re at.

Please feel free to do so with the ones in my Vintage Film pack.  😀

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