Lightroom Tips

Can You Apply Multiple Presets in Lightroom?

I get the question all the time… Can you stack multiple presets in Lightroom?

The answer? You “kinda” can, but it’s not really stacking. See, each preset let’s you record a certain adjustment (Exposure, Highlights, vignetting, etc…) and it’s settings. So if I have my Exposure set to +1.00 when I create a preset, it’ll record that +1.00 as the Exposure setting as long as I check the Exposure checkbox in the Preset dialog (see below).

Lightroom Presets

Once I apply the preset to another photo it’ll set that photo’s Exposure setting to +1.00. No matter what. Period. It doesn’t matter what that previous Exposure was set to, the new Exposure setting will be +1.00.

So Where Does Stacking Come In?
Stacking comes in to play if you don’t check an adjustment to be saved in the Preset when you create it. So let’s stay I have the Exposure set to +1.00 on a photo and maybe some, Vibrance, Clarity, sharpening and vignetting applied to it. Then I create a new Preset and I don’t check the Exposure setting in the new preset dialog (see below).

Lightroom Presets

Now let’s say I go to apply this preset to a photo that has it’s Exposure setting at +2.00. Once I apply it, what will the new Exposure setting be? +2.00, just like it was before because Exposure wasn’t included in the preset. And if I apply another preset created with just Split Toning checked in the Preset dialog, then all of the settings that were on the photo before (+2.00 Exposure, Vibrance, Clarity, Sharpening, Vignetting) will stay exactly the same and Lightroom will just change the Split Toning settings. So, in a way, you are stacking one effect on top of another.

So, while stacking isn’t necessarily part of presets, you could create presets for Vignettes, Sharpening, White Balance, etc… When you create those presets, don’t check any other settings. Then, when you apply them, it’ll only change those specific adjustments on the photo (the ones that are actually part of a preset), and leave all of your other adjustments intact.

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. Dick Sijtsma 7 September, 2015 at 14:10 Reply

    according to this information, you can apply the same preset only once to an image. For example, applying the exposure +1 preset, will change the exposure to plus +1, but applying it again will not change the exposure to +2, right?

    That’s what i thought too. But there are people out there selling presets where the description is: apply this preset several times for best effects.

    This can’t be true, this is not how presets work, not even in Lightroom 6. Correct?

    • Kimber Shaw 13 June, 2015 at 23:56 Reply

      Try making a virtual copy (right click on your image in LR and scroll down in the dialog box) this will be a copied preview of your original image edit. Then you can apply a new preset on top of the virtual copy in a ‘stacking’ type of cheat.

      Hope that makes sense! 🙂

  2. Dennis Zito 27 March, 2014 at 08:39 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Great Tip! I think you covered this a long time ago, because I do it all the time, and I wouldn’t have know to do it if you hadn’t written about it! 🙂 I have presets for each lens and camera profile that I use, and I also have a noise pre-prep preset I use for high ISO photos. So when I have a high ISO photo, I do the camera profile first then do the noise preset next. Works great and saves a lot of time with multiple files. Learned it all from you!


  3. Dave Francis 25 March, 2014 at 14:11 Reply

    How can you get the GPS locations of pictures taken from the Map section of Lightroom into a slideshow in Lightroom

      • David Francis 27 March, 2014 at 00:53 Reply

        I have pictures with GPS data that I can locate in the Map module of Lightroom to show where the pictures were taken. I would like to transfer this map and location data into the Lightroom slideshow module as part of a slideshow with other pictures from the location or trip.

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