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How to Organize Lightroom Presets

Published: 06/05/2021

Presets are one of the several intuitive features of Lightroom that speed up a photographer’s post-production workflow. Once you know their true power, you will soon find your presets panel filled with custom presets as well as those you create yourself. Learn how to organize Lightroom presets to keep everything tidy and useful.

How to Organize Lightroom Presets to Facilitate an Effortless Workflow

Presets are a set of editing settings that provides an option to edit your photos with a click, giving them the exact look you want. Presets can help you do quick batch editing, as you can apply them to a large number of images simultaneously during import. In short, presets are one of the reasons why most photographers use Lightroom.

Besides importing free and purchased third-party presets, Lightroom Classic CC allows you to make your own presets. While these may be tremendously convenient in your editing process, having a lot of them may turn your presets panel into a messy, disorganized section.

If you don’t organize your presets, it will be tough to find the right one quickly, negating the whole concept of using them. Here is an in-depth guide that you can follow to build your presets panel in a coordinated manner.

Back-Up Your Presets

First of all, before diving into the organization, backup all your presets as a precautionary measure. You don’t want to misplace any of your favorite presets in the run.

  1. Launch Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.
  2. Open the Develop module.
  3. On the left-hand side, expand the Presets panel. 
  4. Right-click on a preset, and click on Show in Explorer (Windows) or Show in Finder (Mac).
Clicking "show in explorer" for Windows users
  1. Once the file destination opens up, move back to the Lightroom folder.
  2. Select Develop Presets Folder.
  3. Copy the folder, and paste it to another location on your drive to back it up.

In Lightroom, all the Develop presets are present on the left side of the Lightroom interface. 

Hide Unwanted Presets

There are several default presets in Lightroom. Although they are quite useful to help you learn the ropes of applying Lightroom presets, they may seem useless once you start using custom and self-created presets.

To keep them out of the way for better organization, you can hide them and any other presets you don't plan to use.

  1. Right-click on any preset folder in the Presets panel.
  2. Click on Manage Presets.
Managing Lightroom presets
  1. All of your presets will appear in the dialog box.
  2. Uncheck the ones you wish to hide.
Unchecking to hide unwanted default presets
  1. Click on Save

Organizing Your Own Presets

One thing that you will frequently be doing in Lightroom is creating your own presets. In fact, using presets effective is one of many tricks to become a Lightroom expert

Whenever you are editing a photo, it takes a lot of time and precision to set the sliders to that perfect level. If you want to edit more photos in a similar way, saving the current settings as a preset is a smart way to save time. 

Creating Your Presets

Here is a quick walk through the process of creating a preset in Lightroom.

  1. Import an image into Lightroom.
  2. Go to the Develop module, and use the panel on the right to edit your image. 
  3. Adjust the appropriate sliders until you get the desired result.
  4. Once done, click on the plus sign beside the Presets panel.
  5. Click on Create Preset.
  6. Give a name to your preset that describes the kind of effect it gives. 
  7. Choose a folder in which your preset will be saved. Create a new one if you are making a bunch of comparable presets. Click on the group option and choose “New Group” to make a new folder. 
Creating a new group for customized presets
  1. Click on Create. Your new preset will be shown under the new folder in the Presets panel.

Creating and Naming Folders

A significant part of your presets organization depends upon how you create and name your preset folders. While the option to create folders is limited to your own presets, you can move a custom preset to these folders.

Folders containing presets are shown in alphabetical order in Presets panel. Take advantage of this by naming your frequently used preset folders beginning with “A” or a number. This will create a hierarchy in the presets panel, showing the most useful presets on top.

Naming preset folders

Give meaningful names to your folders by choosing words that describe the kind of presets it holds. For instance, HDR, Landscape, Portrait, or Black and White folders are easily identified as folders having corresponding presets.

Prefixes and Suffixes

Here is a smart way to take your preset organization up a notch. If you create similar kinds of presets with slightly varying edits, you can add that as a suffix to the preset name to help you identify it later with ease. 

For instance, three of our Wizard presets for exterior views of properties rectify the exposures to a certain level. Hence, the suffixes low, medium, and high exposure are added to their names.

Creating suffixes and prefixes for similar presets

Organizing Custom Presets

Any presets you purchase from a seller or download for free are also placed in the same presets panel as your own presets. Typically, presets come in a bundle which will be displayed inside a folder when you import them into Lightroom. But many of them, especially the free ones, come individually. 

Individual presets will be added to the panel in alphabetical order. If you have a lot of them, finding that you cannot create a separate folder to save them may be frustrating. However, there are two ways you can organize them.

Move Presets

You can not create a new folder to place comparable individual presets. But you can either move them into one of your own folders or the Favorites folder, which is shown on top of all the preset folders.

  • Favorites Folder: Move all the individual presets you intend to use frequently into the Favorites folder. This will help you find them easily. You can do so by simply dragging and dropping the preset in the Favorites folder.
  • Other Folders: If you download a preset that has some similarities with any of your saved presets, you can drag and drop it into the same folder to structure your presets panel in a better way.
  • Rename Custom Preset Folders: Custom presets come with a name that may or may not describe the actual effect they create on an image. After import, you can rename your preset folder by right-clicking on the folder name and clicking on Rename. Choose an expressive name that tells the user exactly about the effect.

Apply the same principle of naming in alphabetical order or with a number to bring them up in the presets panel.

How Presets Organization Eases Your Workflow

The three main advantages of a classified preset panel are:

  • You can find your favorite presets among a huge list in no time.
  • Your presets panel looks mess-free, which doesn’t distract you while you process photos.
  • As you have named and grouped the presets according to effects, your workflow becomes more effective.

Conclusion

If you don’t want to lose track of the presets you have imported, it is highly recommended to keep them organized. If you successfully put them in order, all you need to do is import an image, quickly find your desired preset, and apply it to the image for a speedy editing process.  

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