Lightroom is unquestionably a powerful image processing application; even if you were to make use of only its built-in tools, you (and your photos) would be in pretty good shape. But, as with anything, there’s always room for improvement. Fortunately, Lightroom makes it easy for users to fill in gaps left by the software. One of the most common ways of extending Lightroom’s usability and expanding its power is via the use of presets. Lightroom presets, in short, allow you to enhance (improve?) your photos in a simple, streamlined fashion. Two questions frequently asked relating to Lightroom presets include: “Where do I find them?” and “How do I install them?”
Update: October 2017
A lot of people seem to be having issues figuring out how to install presets in Lightroom CC, Adobie's newest version of Lightroom. So we decided to make a quick video for you.
How to Install Presets in Older Versions of Lightroom
The answer to the first question is easy.
As far as how to install the presets, this isn’t particularly difficult but it also isn’t as straightforward as some users might think. So here’s a little help for those who need it.
1. Download presets. You can get them from presetify.com or from the hundreds of other sources across the Web — some are free, some you will need to pay for. There are plenty of options at your disposal.
2. Locate and uncompress your files. Presets typically arrive as .zip files, so you will need to unzip them before you can use them. Uncompressed Lightroom presets have a .lrtemplate extension.
3. Open Lightroom.
4. If you’re using a Mac, locate the top menu bar and navigate to Lightroom > Preferences. In Windows, you will navigate to Edit > Preferences.
5. When the Preferences box appears, select the Presets tab.
6. Click on the button labeled “Show Lightroom Presets Folder…”
7. A new Finder window (Mac) or Explorer window (Windows) will appear. Open the Lightroom folder, then open the Develop Presets folder.
8. Copy and paste presets into this folder.
9. Restart Lightroom. You will find your new presets located in the Develop Module under the Presets section, along the left side of the screen.
These steps cover the basics of getting presets into Lightroom. As an alternate method — if you want to apply some customization to your presets collection — you can take advantage of the contextual options available by right-clicking (or control-/ctrl-click) within the Presets section. You can make a new destination folder for your presets or rename or delete an existing folder. By selecting the Import… option you will be able to quickly copy presets from any given location to the selected folder.
Default file path for the necessary location of the Presets folder:
Mac: Macintosh HD\Users\\Library\Application Support\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets
Windows: Computer\[C:]\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets
Computerised post-processing programs have taken a lot of the skill out of photography. Nowadays, hobbyists and pros alike can take ordinary photos, not much better than snaps, and transform them into impressive photos via the computer. I’ve only just become aware of this recently and have felt somewhat cheated ever since. To think, all those pics I’ve gone ‘wow’ over and pondered ‘how the heck did he expose for that or get that colour saturation in that etc” I can rest assured was pretty much done on a computer and not a camera. I do realise that in the days of print, some significant post processing was carried out in the darkroom, but nowhere to the point it is these days. I’ve seen tutorials on YouTube where the bloke has taken an unimpressive pic and transformed it into a thing of wonder by way of photoshop. And I’m not just talking about adding colour, lifting the contrast or cropping etc, but pretty much wholesale changes including adding items, eliminating items and superimposing parts of one photo onto another in order to get the desired composition. Is that photography? How can you call yourself a ‘good’ photographer when the rubbish bin you captured in your scene was rubbed out by a keystroke or when you can’t get the proper exposure except by way of a slider?
It depends on what you wish to create.
If you want an event then you take a photograph and process it – whether by software or in the darkroom – to make an image as close as possible to what the photographer considered was correct, then it is photography.
Professional photographers today spend a lot of time and skill on processing photographs to create the image they want. I have heard several well known professional photographers say they can spend upwards of 2 hours on a single picture.
Even famous photographers of the past such as Ansel Adams processed their pictures extensively and would no doubt have loved such software as we have today.
Then you have photographic artists who take a photograph and work with it to create something different from that seen by the photographer – that is photographic art.
The world is so full of rubbish these days that why shouldn’t a photographer want to remove rubbish bins, signs, cables and other such irritations from a scene. I want a pleasing image – not a snapshot of the trash around at the time I took the picture!
Judging by your comments – you are relatively new to photography and so perhaps shouldn’t be criticizing things you are not experienced with.
I started with a box camera taking B&W pictures when I was a child and progressed on to processing – and manipulating the prints to suit my vision of what the scene should look like. Now – 60 years later – I still enjoy taking pictures and then get added enjoyment in processing and manipulating the images in computer software to create winning pictures that please me and please my peers..
Hi Charles Black, I for my part was not critizising post processing, but simply airing my regrets, and, having reread Gaz’s post, I’m sure that it’s his case too.
I know exactly how you feel, Gaz, completely my thoughts (and delusion) too! I guess we’ll just have to accept it, even though with a sorry heart, because that’s where technology has taken us. Anyway, I have taken some photos where I wowed myself and at least know that I didn’t enhance them….nothing to compare with lightroom and photoshop, though, I must be honest!
Its pretty much what Ansel Adams did with “Dodge and Burn” many years ago.
Holy Gaz, chill out…
great guide ! i was able to install lightroom easily !
Hey Gaz…how did you like the video?? Or shall we talk about how phones don’t have to be attached to the walls anymore. lol Progress my boy…an expansion of the artistic world. Jason, the instructions are fabulous. Perfect installation. Thank you for taking the time to help us out on this!!
totally helped me out here! Super easy. I just got some new LR presets and can’t wait to try them out. Thanks guys!
Hello there! I don’t have Adobe Lightroom. I don’t have Adobe at all, but i like these presets. Can i use them with other editing programs and if so, how would i unzip them. I’m new to this and i just like editing photos. Can you please help me on this matter or suggest something. I do plan on getting Adobe when i have a little extra cash. I’m thanking you in advance!
All the post-processing in the world won’t save a poorly composed image.
On the contrary, some aggressive cropping can in fact, save some poorly composed images. Not ideal, but not impossible either.
Thank you so much!
So, I have a mac and I am doing everything step by step. But my presets aren’t showing up on the left hand side under presets… I can only get to them on the right side with the dial bar under “user presets”
I don’t understand why it is doing this. Help please!
Hi, I don’t see a presets folder on the left of my screen. Are you using the latest creative cloud version of lightroom?
You need to be in the Develop module (top right)
Hi – very helpful 🙂
I have a some preset folders that I’d like to put into another folder to group them together. Its set up like this where they’re saved on my hard drive – however when I restart LR, the folders are there but they’re all separated out instead of inside the folder I wanted. Does that make sense?
Can you help?
Ahh, putting a folder inside another folder would be awesome! Alas, it is not yet possible in Lightroom 🙁