Lightroom presets are a fantastic way to streamline your photo editing workflow and help you get more consistent results in your work in far less time.
The software does come with some built-in presets, but if you want to add more, you’re going to have to know how to install them.
If you’re subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud and get the latest app updates, there are essentially two versions of Lightroom you could have on your computer. These are Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
There’s also the Lightroom mobile app, which you can use without being signed up for anything. Read on to learn how to install presets on all in the simplest ways I know.
Install presets on Lightroom CC
Lightroom CC was released in 2017, giving you the option to use this new style or stick to the original, which is now called Lightroom Classic CC.
Installing presets on Lightroom CC is a breeze, as we’ll walk you through here.
Before opening Lightroom, make sure you know exactly where the folder containing their files is. I always put things on the desktop when doing tasks like this, but your methods may differ. Once that’s done, you can begin installing.
1. Open Lightroom CC and click on the Edit button in the top right corner, represented by the three sliders.
2. Next, open the presets panel by clicking on Presets in the bottom right.
3. Once that’s there, open the menu by clicking the three dots next to the X and click on Import Presets.
4. This will open up a new window where you can select the folder from wherever it was you put it. Open it up, select the files inside, and click Import. These files may be the newer .xmp format or the older .lrtemplate one. Both will work.
Also worth noting is that if your presets are in a zip folder, there’s no need to open it. You can just upload that to Lightroom CC instead of the individual files.
5. Once your presets are imported, they’re ready to use. It’s as simple as that. However, they do automatically go into a group called User Presets.
Any future presets you upload will also go into this group, which will mean getting different packs all mixed up. To avoid this, right-click on User Presets and choose Rename Group.
6. Give your group a name relevant to the presets that it contains. If you downloaded a presets pack from somewhere, the name of the pack would be the obvious name for the group you keep them in.
If it’s my Vintage Film Lightroom presets you’re installing, something like Vintage Film would make sense.
Once this step is done, you’re pretty much all done too. Now’s the time to start creating great work with the presets you’ve just installed.
Install presets on Lightroom Classic CC
Lightroom Classic CC is the direct descendant of the first version of the software, which was released in 2007. There have been numerous updates to it since, but it’s still considered the original Lightroom when compared to the newer one.
It was renamed Lightroom Classic CC when the new style Lightroom CC was released in 2017. I prefer to use the newer one but a lot of photographers stuck with the one they know and love.
If you want to use it too, the good news is installing presets is also very easy, as we’ll see here.
Again, before you begin, make sure you know exactly where the folder containing their files is. For me, that’s on the desktop. Once you have them where you want them, you can begin installing.
1. The first step to installing Lightroom presets on Lightroom Classic is to ensure you’re in the Develop mode and not Library.
2. Once there, click on the plus sign on the Presets dropdown on the left-hand side.
3. On the menu that pops up, click Import Presets.
4. This will open up a new window where you can select the folder with your presets files in. Open it up, select them, and click Import.
If you have the newest version of Lightroom Classic, you can use either the newer .xmp format or the older .lrtemplate one. If you have an older version, you might find that .xmp files aren’t backwards compatible.
5. Your imported presets are already ready to use, but just like with the other version of Lightroom, they will have gone into a group called User Presets.
Again, any future presets you import will also go into this group unless you change the name of it. To stop this happening, right-click on User Presets and choose Rename.
Unlike the other version of Lightroom, you can actually drag and drop presets from one group to another on the Classic version, but renaming the group here is still the most efficient way to go.
6. Name the group something relevant to the presets that are in it. The name of the presets pack would make the most sense, presuming you’ve downloaded one from somewhere.
If that’s my Vintage Film pack, calling the group Vintage Film would be the obvious thing to do.
This is the final step, and you’re now ready to actually use the presets to create some great results.
Install presets on Lightroom Mobile
For a long time, the only presets you could use on the Lightroom mobile app were the ones it comes with. Thankfully, that’s now changed and you can add the ones you have on desktop and use them on the go too.
If you’re subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud and have access to the two versions of Lightroom talked about above, getting your presets on to your mobile is as simple as signing in to the app and syncing it.
Once you’ve done that, you can go into the Presets menu item, where you’ll find all the built-in options as well as those that have synced from your desktop.
If you don’t have a Creative Cloud subscription, installing presets on Lightroom mobile becomes a longer process. It’s still possible, but you’ll have to go through a few more steps.
You’ll also need the preset files to be in .dng format, rather than the .xml or .lrtemplate they come in when made to install on desktop.
My own Vintage Film Lightroom Presets do include the .dng files along with the other two, but some you buy might not; especially if they were made a while ago before installing to mobile was possible.
There is a way to export presets from Lightroom Classic CC to .dng files that can then be used on your Lightroom mobile app. You can find a step-by-step guide to doing so here.
Once you have your .dng files – whether you exported them from Lightroom Classic or they came with a pack you bought – you can go through the process of installing them onto your phone.
This video shows you how.
Now you know how to install Lightroom presets
Lightroom presets do get some bad press from certain conceited quarters but the truth is they can help you whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned professional.
If you have it in your head they’re just like the Instagram filters that nobody uses anymore, that’s not accurate. They can be ostentatious, or they can merely give the subtle adjustments you would have made manually anyway.
They can be anything you want them to be, and you can actually make your own. If you download some from elsewhere, you can even modify those to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for some that give a vintage film look, you should give the pack I put together a look.
And if you’ve read this guide but don’t yet have Lightroom, you can get it together with Photoshop in Adobe’s Photography Pack for less than you may think. Check the current prices here.
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