Mike Rodriguez polled his students to see what they would like to see in Scott and RC’s upcoming podcasts and I decided to steal one of his ideas… sort of. This is one of those tips that if you have never heard of it may make you curse because of how it can save you a lot of time from doing the same steps over and over again.

Lightroom ideas

Screen grab of Mark’s comment to Scott about what to cover of Lightroom Podcast

As I was working on this blog post Arnaldo from video who is a good shooter and really working on taking his photography to the next level came in to my office to bug me… er… I mean talk about business and important KelbyOne matters in case Scott is reading this.

He was looking at my screenshots and I asked him if he applied a preset to his images when importing. He said, and I quote… “Wait a minute! You can do that!” I then showed him how and and he said… “golly!  I am going to set up an import preset right now!”  By the way he didn’t really use the word golly. So I figured some of you might like this one too. If you know this one… go tell a friend they will love you for it.

Work smarter with Presets!

Create a preset that you can apply to your images as a base edit to help you do less work per image. Easiest way to do this is to open an average image that is not too bright or dark and open it in the Develop module. Now make all the adjustments that you would normally make such as Sharpening, Clarity, Vignette and my favorite Auto Tone. Don’t do any specific tweaking with things like the Adjustment Brush or Gradient tool… just get a nice base edit. Once you have the settings you want, go over to the Presets panel on the left and click on the Plus sign in the corner.

That is all it takes to make a Preset… just move some sliders and then click the plus sign to record all of those adjustments in one place. You will be prompted to name your new preset. I like to name this one with the word Import in it to help remind me of what I am using it for, but you can name it anything you want. Make sure to leave checked any of the settings that you want applied. Notice  in the image below, since I wanted to add Auto Tone that the Basic Tone settings are grayed out. We tend to not use anything Auto because we think it is going not be good, but most of the time the toning is pretty darn good and I only have to tweak the exposure a bit… but the main reason why I use it is because it ses the perfect White and Black points for me so I don’t have to do the Shift Double click trick. (Ask Scott about that if you don’t know it. :D) Once you are satisfied click Create. Congrats! You have created your first preset! It will now appear under Presets in the User Presets menu.

Import     import sauce name

Take it one step further… with Import Sauce!

When you import your images into Lightroom, there are probably several repetitive step that you do to most of your photos. As Scott mentioned a few posts back, he almost always adds a vignette of -11. I almost always add a touch of Clarity and Sharpening along with the Auto Tone button to set my White and Black points and hopefully get me closer to a baseline exposure. I found myself going into every shot and doing pretty much the same thing aside from slight variations in toning. That is why you want to have Lightroom apply your base Import sauce preset to every photo on Import so that you don’t have to touch those sliders unless you want to change the look.

This does two things… it saves you time in not having to tweak as many sliders as you used to, but it also makes you feel better about your images upon first looking at them. Especially if you shoot in RAW. Seeing your crisp images pop up on the screen and then they suddenly turn blah right before your eyes is an experience all RAW shooters have in Lightroom. You think “Hey! that looks pretty good!” and two seconds later… “hey, that looks like crap.” This happens because until the RAW preview is built, the Jpeg preview is shown in its place with its sharpening and secret sauces applied then the untouched flat RAW image takes over. So why not add your base sauce on import so that it looks more like the Jpeg to keep the good feelings going.

When you get to the Import dialogue box, look over on the right-hand side and toggle down the “Apply During Import” menu.

import settings large

Now is a good time to add copyright info which if nothing else should have your website or a way for folks to find you incase they come across your image and want to use it or buy it. HT to RC for that tip!

import sauce

Simply choose your preset that you created from the User’s presets  for the Develop Settings and now it will run that preset over every image.

Now when you import any new images the Import Sauce is applied. This means that hopefully you won’t have to do much in the Basic panel but slight tweaks. On a side note: you can also see it showing you on the Preset Menu on the left the little plus sign next to Import sauce which tells you which preset is tagged for import. If you want to use a different one, simply right click on that preset and choose “Apply on Import” from the menu and it will now have the plus sign.

import develop

The goal at the end of the day is to spend less time tweaking the same basic adjustments and spend more time on the creative parts of developing. Let Lightroom do the repetitive work and those few seconds saved on each image will really start to pay off in your workflow.



  1. Christi 9 December, 2016 at 23:13 Reply

    I’m in desperate need of the preset, pretty please! I just can’t find my groove with Lightroom but I’m trying.

  2. Ian 29 October, 2016 at 02:42 Reply

    Thank you for the great article. 🙂 
    With a Nikon D750 and the Picture Control profile set to ‘Flat’, the pictures from the D750 look soo dull, compared the much older D7000. What baseline settings would you recommend for the import sauce, to make the picture pop? Most of my pictures are portraits or streets.

  3. Jane 13 February, 2016 at 16:55 Reply

    Thanks Pete, I’ve been using my own preset for a while now but applying it to each photo after importing, you have just saved me soooo much time. Gracias.

    • Rick Powers 16 January, 2016 at 17:33 Reply

      I was wondering if you can set automatic watermarks to pictures that you are importing
      I am a beginner with lightroom and basically the computer and would like to import several pictures I have taken for a survey of industrial doors that I am creating a report on the damage and replacement needs for a customer and many of the picture will be for the same location .

  4. Ross Henty 29 December, 2015 at 04:59 Reply

    Hi Sir have you a link to the preset I’m having big issues with LR and my RAW files. They always seem lifeless nothing like on camera I know LR renders the Raw files just need a good preset to import. Thanks in advanced.

  5. Maurice 28 June, 2015 at 09:15 Reply

    Hi Pete,

    Again, great post ! You’re tribute to photography ! Would please send the presets to me ?

    Many thanks


  6. Patrick 6 February, 2015 at 10:43 Reply

    Hey Pete,

    Is there a way to use presets on import based on what ISO an image is taken at?
    I use a crop sensor camera and i find myself Always applying some noise reduction and sharepening based on the ISO i took the picture at. Can i automate this process using one or more presets?

    thx for the great article.

  7. simon 5 February, 2015 at 02:42 Reply

    Hi Pete, great tip. Do you also apply a camera profile eg canon standard on import, or simply stick with Adobe standard?

    • Pete Collins 5 February, 2015 at 09:36 Reply

      To be honest I go back and forth… I have used both and can’t tell much of a difference… I am sure some folks will have an opinion of which is the right way… I have just left it on canon standard and not looked back. Thanks for the question.

  8. Gerry Slater 3 February, 2015 at 15:02 Reply

    Great tip Pete. I need to start doing that. Just wanted to say how delighted I am that you guys are taking up LKT with such enthusiasm. Its a great help, and appreciated.

  9. Peter Schmid 3 February, 2015 at 13:43 Reply

    Hi Pete, is there a way to add color marking on import? In my workflow I start with red and based on processing and selection the final picture gets a green. Now it would be great if I could mark all imports with red right away without selecting them and marking manual. I hope there is an option I just have overlooked.
    Thanks, Peter

  10. Gerry Slater 28 January, 2015 at 16:08 Reply

    Very clear and well-written. Nice going Pete. I, too, thought about doing this for awhile but just wasn’t certain. Now I will jump right in.

  11. Drew 28 January, 2015 at 10:59 Reply

    Thanks for the tip! I have a follow-up question. I have exactly the experience that you describe with my RAW images…they look great for a second, and then they go flat when the RAW data is loaded. So, I have made a preset to get them back to that nice vibrant look, and I do tend to apply it to virtually every RAW photo that I intend to share, as my starting point.

    I have had reservations about using this Apply on Import option because I’ve been afraid to lose the “straight from the camera” baseline, and your final screenshot seems to confirm my fears. The applied preset seems to become the bottom entry in the History queue, so you can’t “undo” the import preset and get back to the unadulterated data (I’m not sure why I’d really want that, but that OCD part of me is strong enough that I hesitate to make any permanent changes).

    So…is there a way to get back to the original after doing Apply on Import, short of manually resetting all of the sliders to zero? Does the “Reset” button in the lower right return everything to zero, or does that just bring you back to the import state after you make further changes?


    • Valerie G 28 January, 2015 at 13:32 Reply

      Drew, hitting the Reset button will zero out the sliders. You will see in the history panel that Reset Settings shows up as the latest entry and you can still get back to the Import Preset as it will remain the first (bottom) entry in the history.

  12. Florian 28 January, 2015 at 10:02 Reply

    Great tip, Pete. I dd create an import preset but now will have to go back and add Auto Tone since I do the double click thingy after import!

    • Pete Collins 28 January, 2015 at 15:24 Reply

      I did the same thing for quite a while because I tend to avoid anything with the word magic, auto or smart… but Adobe has come a long way with their automatic systems… so I am slowly coming around. 😀

  13. Denis Zito 28 January, 2015 at 08:02 Reply

    Hi Pete,

    Good info! I have a question. Once I’m in the develop module and I apply a preset, what’s the best way to copy that preset to several images, but not all the images?



    • Pete Collins 28 January, 2015 at 15:23 Reply

      Dennis, the easiest way off of the top of my head is to go to hit G to go to Grid view and then select the images using the Command or Control key, once all of the images you want to apply that preset simply Right click on one of the ones that are highlighted and choose Develop Settings>User Presets> and click on the preset you made… it should apply the preset to each of them… or another way would be to Sync those files.

      • Dennis Zito 29 January, 2015 at 07:56 Reply

        Thanks Pete! I’ll try that first method. I’ve tried the sync, but it never works … weird huh? I seem to have a lot of little things I can’t seem to do since upgrading to version 5.

        Thanks again,


        • Dylon 29 January, 2015 at 13:22 Reply

          when you are using the sync method by ctrl or cmnd + clicking the images you want, you have to start with the image that you want all the others to look like (the image you’ve made all adjustments too).

          Another way to do it is to click the image with adjustments, then directly after click the image you want the exact same adjustments made to and click the previous button. This will auto apply all the adjustments made. Sync allows you to select what adjustments to transfer to all other photos.

          • Dennis Zito 30 January, 2015 at 07:44

            Hi Dylon,

            Thanks! That’s what I do with the sync method. I select the photo with changes and commad click the ones I want with the same settings and click on sync. However, when I check the the photos, they haven’t changed settings. I know, it’s weird. Thanks for reminding me of previous button … good idea!


  14. Kristian Smistrup 28 January, 2015 at 07:02 Reply

    Hey Pete – Great post – This is one of the things that I have thought about doing for a long time, but I never really got around to it – Partly because I was unsure how to do it – This step by step guide sure makes it easier for me – Thanks.

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