November 3, 2022
Adobe Lightroom presets are a great time saver. Not only do they give you the ability to work quickly and efficiently with large batches of images, but they also provide great opportunities to experiment with your processing style. The beauty of editing in Lightroom is that your adjustments are non-destructive. You can make as many changes as you want, safe in the knowledge that you’re just one click away from reverting to your original if you ever change your mind.
Whether you’re working in Lightroom Classic or Lightroom (desktop, mobile, or web), there’s a wide variety of presets to gather and explore. Some of the more expensive offerings from the bigger studios are working hard to keep up to date with new features (i.e. the latest AI-assisted updates of Lightroom). But dig deep and you’ll also find plenty of free and priceless presets from photographers who just want to share.
Presets are usually saved as an .xmp file. These files are very easy to share with others and allow for non-destructive editing. You can also find many older presets with the .lrtemplate extension. You can use these presets in Lightroom Classic or Lightroom.
If you import presets directly into Lightroom for mobile, it may be a DNG file type. But you can also use your .xmp and .lrtemplate files (although it’s much easier to do this through Lightroom for Desktop and the presets will be ready to use when you launch Lightroom Mobile).
How to install and organize your presets in Lightroom Classic
- In the presets panel, click on the ‘+’ and choose ‘Import presets’
- Locate your preset and click “Import”.
- You can store and organize your presets at any time using the “Manage Presets” option.
How to Install and Organize Your Presets in Lightroom
There are two ways to import presets into Lightroom desktop
- File>Import Profiles and Presets OR
- In the Presets panel, click on the drop-down menu and select “Import Presets”.
Tip: How to save Lightroom mobile presets in Lightroom Classic
Managing your .xmp and .lrtemplate file usage in Lightroom (desktop and mobile) is an intuitive process. But what if you have a great preset in Lightroom and you really want to be able to use it in Lightroom Classic? The good news is that it is possible, although it takes a bit of effort. Here’s how to do it…
- In Lightroom Classic, make sure you’re in Library mode.
- You can sync a catalog from Mobile to Classic at any time. To do this, click on the Cloud icon in the top bar and “start synchronization”.
- If you applied a preset to a synced image in Lightroom Mobile, it will now show up in Lightroom Classic. You will see modified sliders in the Develop panel and it should appear as a slider below your Browser window. You can now turn this into an .xmp preset by clicking the + in the Presets panel and choosing “Create Preset”. You will need to give it a name. You will now be able to apply this preset to any other image in Lightroom Classic, whether or not it is in this synced collection. It will be saved in ‘User Presets’.
Now that you know how to use presets for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Lightroom and make them work in either application, here are some ideas for where to look for freebies…
Best Free Lightroom Presets from Adobe Creative Cloud
Your first stop for finding good quality free presets should be Adobe itself. Head to the Creative Cloud website and discover the free resources that are regularly uploaded. You can easily explore the back catalog of these gifts. These are beautifully presented, make it easy to view the before and after examples, and are accompanied by well-written stories and biographies of the photographers who contributed.
For those who want to learn more about improving their image editing, they also provide fantastic slideshow-like steps, showing how the photographer processed their image and created the preset. If you download these presets, they will open in Lightroom desktop and you can watch a full edit before saving them.
You can reciprocate by uploading your own modifications. Other photographers will be able to see your original, any edits you made, and the final image. They can also save your editing settings as a preset.
Remember the tip above for using your presets from Creative Cloud in Lightroom Classic.
Six presets and some brilliant tips on how to create rich, vibrant and sumptuous chocolate tones.
There are separate download links for Lightroom or Lightroom Classic. You’ll be able to give macro shots a bit more punch, but without heavy contrast and saturation.
There’s only one offering here from Lightroom Ambassador, Megan Loeks, but she offers a lovely, rich, and painterly look that works well on deep colors with dark shadows.
There are two downloads available for free use; one for enhancing detail with studio lighting with confident color blends, and the other a more general color enhancer for naturally lit floral shots.
You know the best time to shoot flattering portraits, but sometimes the moment is unavoidable or you’ve taken photos on the spur of the moment. These presets have a specific purpose: to even out the shadows and highlights created by a blazing sun. These were created for cell phone images, but worth trying as a quick fix on any strabismus heavy image.
Where else to look for free Lightroom presets
There are 12 free presets to download here and with a few clicks you get .lrtemplate and .xmp files. There is a wide range of presets suitable for different styles of photography, including those dedicated to portraits and weddings. We found ‘Watercolor Film’ and ‘Darkroom Film’ particularly pleasing on sunny landscapes.
Dedicated presets for Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile. There are some interesting styles available, and we particularly liked the cool blue effects of the “London Presets” for photos of stylized buildings and landscapes with an urban cool.
There are only three .lrtemplate presets available from Helene, but they have such fantastic quality – classy and not too stylish. Called simply ‘Free1’, ‘Free2’ and ‘Free3’, we suggest you rename them with a more memorable name. Chances are you’ll come back to it often. “Free 3” is our favorite because it transforms banal blues into a dreamy, cinematic turquoise. We found it worked best with landscapes and buildings.
You must subscribe to the No Man Before newsletter before you receive a download link to access these four .xmp presets. The results are pretty low-key, but take bright, warm photos up a notch. We found it worked best on brighter, sunnier landscapes. Not so good for seedy Dorset beach scenes. Well, these are travel presets after all!
A professional photo editing service for wedding and portrait photographers, Weedit.Photos also offers a generous number of free .lrtemplate Lightroom Presets files available for download. There’s a real mix of practical sets covering a wide range of topics, from indoor/outdoor real estate to clubbing and food. Each set contains a few options and they’ve done a great job of explaining what each preset does and what kind of images they recommend using them on. No newsletter subscription required.
How to Get the Best Results from Your Free Lightroom Presets
With all these free Lightroom presets at your fingertips, it’s very tempting to download as many as you can. However, a cluttered presets panel won’t help speed up your workflow, especially if you’re spending so much time trying to find “The One”. Use the “Manage Presets” option to keep your collections tidy. In Lightroom Classic, you can also right-click a preset you like and “Add to Favorites” to save you from scrolling through lists every time you want to use it.
Remember that presets are not a one-click solution to getting the perfect picture. When you hover over a preset to see a preview, keep an eye out for how it affects the tone of your image. Does it match the mood of your photo? Does it add ambiance? Are you losing too much detail? What does it do to skin tones? Accept that you have a little work to do to achieve a desirable look. It’s always a good idea to tweak your exposure and white balance first if things don’t look quite right.
Check if the developer has given advice on how to work with their presets. Creative Cloud’s free resources are great for this if you’re new to editing.
If you find you’ve tweaked a preset’s settings too much, you can always treat it as an intro and save your changes as your own preset. Delete or hide originals to keep your Lightroom workspace clean.
The selected image credit: Reynante Martinez via Adobe Creative Cloud.