How to create presets in Lightroom

How to create presets in Lightroom

Happy Friday, everyone!  Today I’m going to be sharing how easy it is to create your own presets in Lightroom.  I have not yet converted to Lightroom 4, so these steps are for Lightroom 3, but I’m guessing that they’re basically – if not completely – the same for LR4.

I edit in a really ‘clean’ manner, so when I first started using LR, I thought that presets were not my thing.  I was very wrong.  I’ve since found that there are actually many presets that I love (CM’s Film Art Presets and Paparazzi Presets are some of my favorites!).  But, beyond that, I’ve found that I can use presets to simplify my workflow a bit.

As I started to develop more of a routine with my editing, I found myself doing many of the same steps in LR to each of my images.  For example, two of the things I often do to my images are add fill light and contrast, too.  I noticed that my fill light frequently ended up somewhere between roughly 15 and 25 points, and I found myself liking my contrast to be around 35.  So I thought I’d create a preset for adding about 20 points of fill and 35 points of contrast just to simplify my workflow in a small way.  Now, rather than having to go to both the fill light slider and the contrast slider in the basic panel and having to type in numbers or move the sliders around, I simply click on my preset, and those adjustments are made with just that one click.  Obviously, you can add a lot more than just a couple settings to your presets; this is just an example of how and why I started developing some of my own.

So, how easy is it to create a preset in LR??  Super easy!

1.  First, you need to make whatever adjustments you’d like to make in the Develop panels.  For example, if you know that you’re going to be creating a preset that involves adjustments to the Tone Curve, adjust the Tone Curve on any given image the way you want your Tone Curve values to be in the preset you’re creating before you actually start to create it.

2.  In the Develop dropdown, select New Preset.

3.  In the New Develop Preset dialog box that pops up, you’ll first need to decide on a name for your preset and choose the folder in which you’d like to store the preset.  I keep all of the presets I create in the User Presets folder.  If you want to create different folders for different types of presets, simply select New Folder in the Folder dropdown menu, name your folder, and click on create.

4.  Once you’ve named your preset and selected the folder where it will reside, you’ll then choose the settings you’d like to include in your preset.  Just remember, though, that whatever the values are on those settings when you begin to create your preset is what they will be in the preset you’re creating.  If you want to create a preset that adds 10 points of clarity to an image, make sure that the image you’re working on when you begin creating your preset has 10 points of clarity added.

I generally start off by clicking on the ‘Check None’ box so that I have a clean slate, and then I choose my settings from there.  So in my earlier example of creating a preset that adjusts fill light and contrast, I’d only select those two settings for my preset.  Then click on create, and you’re done.  Simple as that!

5.  Your newly created preset now lives in the folder you specified in the main Presets panel under the Navigator in LR.

The image below took me less than a minute to edit because I simply adjusted my white balance, brought down my exposure a bit, and then applied several presets I’ve created that adjust settings such as the tone curve, fill light, contrast, clarity, and noise reduction.  While it may not have taken me long to manually change all of the settings that my presets adjusted, I definitely saved a little time by only having to click on the presets I’ve created.  And who doesn’t love saving time wherever we can these days, right??

About the Author:

Ashley lives in Kansas City with her husband and their two children where they truly love being together and playing outside as a family. She enjoys cooking and baking, despite her claim to be unskilled at both. Twizzlers, ice cream, Doritos, coffee, pedicures and a good novel are her guilty pleasures. Currently, Ashley shoots with a Nikon D700, 50 f/1.4 and 24-70 f/2.8. Visit Ashley Spaulding online.


  1. Melanie W. May 11 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Now why did it take me this long to learn how to do this! Thank you, Ashley, for thinking thoughts and teaching lessons my mind hadn't considered:)

  2. Sabrina May 11 2012 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Thank you! Very helpful 🙂

  3. Andi Gagen May 11 2012 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Thanks, I've been wondering how to make a preset, and now I know 🙂

  4. Susan O'Neal May 11 2012 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    — so beautifully written, so full of amazing knowledge — way over my head ?? YES !! — but, very proud of my Daughter, nonetheless — (love, mom)

  5. jodi May 18 2012 at 3:13 am - Reply

    need to add this to my list of keeper tutorials… admittedly, i'm still intimidated by what lightroom can do. thanks ashley for breaking this down to a really simple process.

  6. Allison Jacobs Jul 18 2012 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Love this tutorial! I need to make some of my own for those every day processes!

  7. Jerry Kadow Oct 15 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    I was very pleased to find this page. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new stuff on your site.

  8. Kadir KOCAARSLAN Mar 15 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Thank you so much Mrs. Ashley.

  9. Emilia Jan 09 2014 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Great post. Thanks!

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