How to save time processing photos with Adobe Lightroom presets

Lisa Tanner's Layout avatar

Processing images takes time, especially if you’re working on multiple pics. If you’re looking for a tool to help you batch image edits and speed the process along, turn to the presets feature of Adobe Lightroom.

What is a preset?

A preset simple takes one or more settings in Lightroom and saves the slider exactly where you want it. This allows you to create vignettes, adjust your white balance, tweak your exposure, and more with just the click of a button. Talk about saving time!

How to create a preset

Creating a preset in Lightroom is simple once you get the hang of it. Here’s what you do:

1. Edit an image using the developer tab

Make it look exactly the way you like it. For example, this picture was shot on a sunny day. It needed some white balance and exposure adjustments to improve it.


Once you’re satisfied with the changes, cilck on the Develop menu, and then New Preset. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N.


2. Open the Preset Developer

A menu will pop up with options for creating your preset.

3. Decide what settings to add

Now it’s time to pick and choose which settings you want to save in your new preset. I went with all of the basic tone, white balance, and color changes that I had made, because I knew this particular set of changes would work well on other images shot in sunny locations. I also opted to save the lens correction since it’ll apply to the pictures I take.

If you want to replicate all changes in the future, you can click Check All.

4. Name your new preset

In order to keep your presets useful, be sure to give them names that make sense. I decided to call this one “Sunny Days” to remind myself to use it on pics that needed help with overexposure due to the sun.


5. Decide where to save it

If you’re going create a lot of presets, it’s a good idea to keep them organized, that way you don’t waste time looking for what you need. If you’d like to save your new preset in a particular folder, just select it under the Preset Name.

6. Hit create

Once you hit the Create button, your preset will be saved to the location you indicated. Now, it’s ready to use!

How to use a preset you created

Now that you’ve created your preset, you can use it again when you need it. I had another photo to edit from a sunny day, and wanted to save time by using the preset I’d just made.j

Once the picture is selected, click on the Develop tab. Over on the left-hand side in the Navigator panel, under the image preview, you’ll notice four menus that you can expand.

You’ll want to expand the “Preset” menu. In addition to the preset you just created, you’ll notice a ton of standard presets. These are included with Lightroom and are fun to experiment with as you have time.

Find the preset you need, and click on it. The software will automatically make the changes. You can see how the blues are brighter, the exposure is better, and the picture just looks sharper. All of these changes were made with one single preset—no sliders were adjusted.


Of course, now is the time to tweak the picture to make sure it’s ready. You might need to bump your contrast up a bit, or modify the highlights.

The preset probably won’t take you from straight from the camera to finished product because there’s not a one-size-fits-all edit button lurking anywhere. But this strategy will get you a huge head start in your editing phase, and save you lots of valuable time.

Batch editing with presets

To save even more time, you can edit multiple pictures at the same time by using a preset. From the “Library” tab, select the photos you want to edit with your preset. You can use CTRL + click to select a variety of photos.

Now, expand the Quick Develop menu from the left-hand side. One of the options will be “Saved Preset.” In that menu, locate the preset you want to apply.


Congratulations, you just edited multiple photos at once!

A quick note about purchasing presets

In addition to creating your own presets, you can purchase premade presets. Many photographers and designers have saved their preset recipes and made them available. These allow you to learn from others and save even more time.

However, while there are some advantages to purchasing presets, there are definite disadvantages as well. If you’re shooting with different equipment, your photos might not turn out the same way. There’s also a lot of subpar presets out there to sift through. You also won’t grow your skills as a photo editor, because you’ll just be applying what someone else has created.

To prevent this, make sure you study the changes that each preset makes. Tweak them on your photos, and see what happens. As you explore, you’ll gain better skills and know how to create the look you love from someone else’s preset.

Whether you create your own or purchase them, utilizing presets will save you time when processing photos.

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