One element regarding Lightroom presets often remains shrouded in mystery and is at the same time one of the most important aspects of using them. The simple process of actually how to install Lightroom presets that often gets overlooked. Many new photographers can find themselves more than a bit lost when faced with a folder full of presets with no clue of how to actually get them into Lightroom.
There’s a Lightroom preset, or preset pack, for virtually anything you would want to do with your photos; black-and-white conversions, vintage-style filters, even film simulations to mimic the look of classic Kodak and Fuji prints. These presets can be phenomenally useful and, like many photographers, I have shelled out good money for various Lightroom presets over the years. So let’s take a look at how to install Lightroom presets so you can use them.
While there are a few different methods of installing presets, there is one that is generally preferred because is is more flexible and allows you to install several presets at once. While the screenshots below are from the Macintosh version of Lightroom, the process is virtually identical on a Windows computer as well.
Photo processed with a Mastin Labs LR preset that mimics the look of Fuji film.
Step 1: Locate your LR Presets Folder
Somewhere on your computer’s hard drive is a folder where Lightroom stores all the Presets you have either created or installed. The following steps show you how to locate that folder then copy your new presets into it. To find the folder start by going to the Lightroom Preferences menu.
In the next window, you will see several tabs at the top. Click on the one named Presets to see the various options you can enable when working with Presets. You will also see a button that says “Show Lightroom Presets Folder…” (circled in red below) which will show you where your Presets are stored.
Click this button to pull up the folder on your hard drive that stores all sorts of data for Lightroom, including not only Presets but a great deal of other information as well. Ironically this button doesn’t show you your Presets folder, but the folder that contains the Presets folder. Click on the “Lightroom” folder and then the “Develop Presets” folder.
All these screenshots might make Step 1 seem like an overly complicated bit of computational maneuvering, but it’s really only a matter of clicking a few buttons. After that, you’re ready for the next step.
Step Two: Copy your Presets
When you open the Develop Presets folder you might see another folder inside of it called User Presets, which contains any Presets you have created on your own. If you don’t see User Presets it’s not a problem at all, and many people go their whole careers without making any of their own custom Lightroom presets.
In any case, you will need to open a new window and locate the folder in which your new Presets are stored. Then drag-and-drop them into the Develop Presets folder to copy them over, as shown below.
You are now ready to use your new Presets…almost. There is still one step left to do before you can take full advantage of your newfound editing tools.
Step Three: Restart Lightroom
This final step seems a bit silly but it’s essential if you want to use your Presets. Some people forget to do this and are met with confusion and frustration when they find out they are unable to access the new Presets they supposedly just installed.
Once your Presets are copied over to the Develop Presets folder, restart Lightroom and you will be able to use them as you would any other Preset. You will find them on the left-hand side of the Develop module in the Presets panel. To use them just click one of the Presets with a photo open and you will instantly see the changes show up.
Note: if your new Presets came in folders you will see them sorted that way inside the Presets panel. To open them just click the triangle next to the folder name, then select the Preset you want to apply.
Just a few clicks to load a Preset is all I did to get this picture looking just like I wanted.
Do you use Presets as part of your Lightroom workflow? If you have thought about dipping your toes in the water you can try the Presets that come with Lightroom and we have some really good ones here at DPS too. They are easy and fun and can give you a whole new perspective on photo editing that you can use to really take things to a new level.