The 5 Places I use Lightroom Presets The Most (And the least)

If you’ve ever looked into Lightroom’s Presets folder (Lightroom Preferences > Presets area) you’ll see there are actually a lot of different areas in Lightroom that have presets. So which ones do I use the most?

1. Import – This one is pretty much on autopilot for me. Whenever I import, I have a Metadata template defined (bottom section of the import dialog) with all of my contact and copyright information. It’s something I rarely ever change or tweak.

2. Develop – Of course, this is probably the biggest area of presets for me. If you’ve followed this site for any amount of time you know I have way too many :)

3. Export – I use these pretty often as well. When you go to File > Export to save out JPEGs of your photos you can create presets. I often find myself always saving a small web/email sized file so I create a preset for it (just click the little plus icon at the bottom of the dialog). And I often find myself saving larger print sized files so I create a preset for this as well.

4. Adjustment Brush – I use these ALL THE TIME. A while back I created Adjustment Brush presets here on the Lightroom Killer Tips site. I still use those same exact presets nearly every day. I love ‘em!

5. I have a lot of Print module presets. I use them, just not as often. I have a few that I use all the time and I have a bunch that just look way cool. However the way cool ones, are a bit more specialized (4 across, pano layout, etc…) and I just don’t have the need for them as much. Now, if I were a portrait or wedding pro shooting several times a week, I think I’d find myself using them more. But for what I do, they make the list – just not the top of the list.

What Presets I Don’t Use

1. Slideshow – I just don’t use the Slideshow module that much. And when I do, I find I stick with the same simple layout (which I do have a preset for) all the time.

2. Web – Again, just not something I use a ton. I have my own website that is not Lightroom based so I don’t find myself in this module all that often.

3. Keyword Sets – I released a set of presets for keyword sets at one point. I really honestly tried to use them more often too. But lately I’ve found I’ve nearly abandoned keywording at this point. I do it to a small extent, but I know my photos are in descriptively-named collections and I usually know right where to go to get to the ones I need. (Please don’t use this as a springboard into launching a keyword-convincing war at me) :)

OK, now it’s your turn. Which ones are your favorites.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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29 Comments

  1. Matt, I have X-Rite camera profiles for two Canon cameras. I had hoped that these would be available to me on import as develop settings (as with Canon Profile – Faithful), but am having to apply them after import in the develop module. This is a little kludgy in terms of my workflow. Is there a way to have the appropriate one available on import?

    Post a Reply
    • You can set the x-rite profile as a default setting. Select an image in the develop module and apply the x-rite profile in the camera correction pane. Don’t adjust anything else unless you would want that adjustment applied to all your images on import as well. Then choose “Set Default Settings” from the Develop menu. Now when you import images the x-rite profile will be applied. You can still change it at anytime in the Camera Correction pane.

      You can get pretty fancy with this. In the preferences you can choose to apply develop presets based on serial # and even ISO. I have mine set to apply different levels of noise reduction based on ISO.

      Post a Reply
  2. Being able to specify the camera specific settings on import would be great. I don’t always like the Adobe settings, but other than applying a develop setting at import I can’t always figure out a way…and since the camera settings are so far down in the menu on the right, I sometimes forget to change that first off. The camera settings can really change the look of a specific photo before any other settings are applied

    Post a Reply
    • Kathy, you can do it….in the Develop module select your camera calibration setting to an image with no other adjustments. (you can also add any other setting that you know you’re going to use each time, i.e. sharpening, etc.) Save that setting as a user preset.

      When you import your next group of photos, you can apply that preset to all of them. :)

      Post a Reply
      • Michael,

        Great tip. I should have thought of it myself, but I didn’t. Works great.

        Thanks.

        Post a Reply
  3. I use the export presets ALL the time! I process all my g/f’s granddaughter pics in LR, and my custom preset exports them as 640×480 jpgs to a sub-folder in the same folder as the Raw images. It also throws them into my mail program as attachments and emails them for me! I recently processed and sent 22 picked images from 140 Raws in 20 minutes. Can’t get much easier than that.

    Post a Reply
  4. I have a suggestion for a before and after video- a black and white image- maybe even do a landscape and a portrait? I have converted a number of things to B&W in Lightroom and always wonder how to make every one look great. Thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • Alex,

      I’m not sure you are a member of NAPP or not, but on Kelby Training Web site Katrin Eismann has training on Color to Black and White Artistry. It is excellent! You can also buy the DVD of the course, which I did. She does a super job of explaining and demonstrating multiple ways of doing B&W from color images. Check it out.

      Dennis

      Post a Reply
  5. I really need to become far more consistent with my keywording. One thing I’m toying with doing is using Photomechanic for the initial edit, then import those pictures into Lightroom, speeding the catalogue up & trimming down the need for any excess keywording. When I’ll find time to do that? That’s a whole other story…

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  6. Keywording is second only to metatagging on import in importance to me. I don’t go hog wild–just three or four well placed keywords knocks my searching time enormously. I won’t launch a war to convince you to join the party–I just know that it works better than collections for me, no matter how well I name them.

    Post a Reply
  7. Matt;
    Seen other older posts related to this; followed your preset cut & paste exactly. Presets do not show up in Adjustment Brush menu, under “effects” and “color”?
    Running Mac on 10.6.2 Leopard OS. By the way, my other “WOW” presets from OnOne do show up.
    Any advise please?
    Many thanks for your tips with this great website.
    Regards,
    Hank

    Post a Reply
  8. Nice compilation…I like it, and I do almost the same that you.

    I have a couple of questions :

    Do you use some presets for sharpening your photos?
    Where do you apply sharpening to your photos?? LR, LR before PS, PS after LR, only in PS…..where?!?!?!

    Thanks Matt

    Post a Reply
    • Pablo,

      Matt did a video on Sharpening on this site. Check it out. He actually does most of his sharpening in PS.

      Dennis

      Post a Reply
  9. Hi Matt,

    Thanks to you I now have a few really good export presets (just never thought of making them before).

    I use the web a lot. All my clients’ galleries and proof galleries are done with lightroom.

    Motti

    Post a Reply
  10. So far I’ve mostly used presets while importing and developing images. I do use some while exporting, but I hardly export jpgs to keep – prefer to upload them straight to Flickr or blog.

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  11. I love lightroom, but I do need to become more familiar with the presets. Thanks for sharing again a nice post that will in the end save time.

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  12. Matt,

    Thanks for the info … I use presets mostly in Develop and Print modes. I’ll have to check out the Import and Export. Thanks again for stirring my interest!

    Dennis

    Post a Reply
  13. Matt,

    Thanks for the info! I do most of my presets in the Develop and Print modules. I’ll have to check out the Import and Export presets. Thanks for stirring my interest!

    Dennis

    Post a Reply
    • Matt,

      Sorry for the dulicates … for some reason when I posted the first comment it did show up quite a while … so I posted again. Sorry about that.

      Dennis

      Post a Reply
  14. I even use an export preset to post to my blog direct from Lightroom. I’m hoping that the improved LR3 slideshow module will mean that I start using it, with presets.
    Simon

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  15. Export presets are the best thing since sliced bread. I have many export presets setup for different uses. I am also getting heavily into creating my own presets that is rapidly speeding up my work flow.

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  16. How dare you. You you just abandon keywords and then tell us not to comment. I’ll have you know I started out as a keyword and there are still more out there just waiting to be used.

    Good Day

    Post a Reply
  17. Very helpful. I appreciate he insight of your use of tools over time. I will probably look into a Web gallery preset as I frequently find it useful to post proofs of a job for clients. I am relieved to see how you use LR sub folders and how that ecilpses the driving need to keyword all the time. What a relief.
    TEU

    Post a Reply
  18. Hi. Do you know what “Installing presets” video doesn’t work?

    flash.create(“swf”,”http://media.kelbymediagroup.com/lightroomkillertips/images/flash/install_presets.swf”, {“width”:450,”height”:337,”allowfullscreen”:true,”allowscriptaccess”:”always”});

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  19. When I first began using Lightroom I think I overused the presets. I used them for everything just because they were so easy. Now I primarily use Lightroom for the local adjustment brush – especially the Whiten/Brighten teeth that Matt created a while back. It’s easy and also necessary for people with ugly stained teeth.

    Post a Reply
  20. I often use the print module just to get a preview of my final image(s), just because it`s very sharp in there, its even sharper as in the develop module. Im still using Lr2.6. maybe the overall sharpness has changed in Lr3 Beta.

    Post a Reply
  21. Dam..you were one unlucky dude…
    Here’s one thing I do, but not applicable to all scenarios.
    If I have an important file I may need, but is small enough, I’ll upload to it to my Dropbox so I have it with me anytime provided I have an internet connection. Useful if your files are small, but most definitely not in your case I’m guessing..

    Post a Reply
  22. MAtt, I have an addiction to presets. I am SO out of control.. And now, in setting up a new PC, I managed to import one large set of presets THREE times. Now I have three of each in my list. I seem to only be able tp select one at a time to delete. Is there a way to selective delete? or the delete wholesale adn thern jus treimpot once? TIA Carmela

    Post a Reply

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