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Photoshop Lightroom Reference Guide

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Managing Presets and Templates

Last updated Apr 25, 2008.

The essential distinction between a preset and a template is that a preset contains a collection of settings that can be applied over and over again (such as develop and metadata presets), while a template is more of a structural collection of settings that you can reuse into the future (such as a Web, Slideshow, Print or filename template). The distinction is rather subtle and many people use the words interchangeably, which can be confusing, but is ultimately somewhat splitting hairs.

Call them what ever you prefer as long as you actually make use of these incredible timesavers. The ability to reuse and apply settings is one of Lightroom’s greatest strengths in regards to boosting your efficiency.

Hopefully we’ll see import presets at some point in Lightroom’s development.

In a typical workflow scenario you can apply a filename template to rename, add a Develop preset to process photos and apply your custom metadata via preset all at the same time during the Import process. By the time your photos appear in the Library module they can be almost ready for export in some cases. Put all your keeper photos in a collection then quickly put them online using a web template, save out a slideshow thanks to a slideshow template or run them through your favorite print template. The bonus is that Lightroom will associate those settings with your collection so you can quickly repeat any of those processes if needed.

If you are a high volume shooter presets and templates are your best friend!

A common question I’ve seen asked is how can you get a preset or template from one computer to another. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One option that works for all types, except filename templates and metadata presets, is to right-click (ctrl-click on a Mac) the preset or template you want to share and choose Export.

Then give it a name and choose where you want Lightroom to save it to and click Save.

This will result in a file with an .lrtemplate extension being saved to that location. The file extension is the same regardless of it being from a preset or a template (just one more point of confusion). You can then copy that file to another computer.

To import that file into another installation of Lightroom you reverse the export process. Jump to the relevant module for that preset/template, right-click the User Template/Presets heading and choose Import. Navigate to the .lrtemplate file and select it to import.

That process works fine for a few templates or presets, but what if you want to copy all your presets/templates to a new computer or maybe you just want to see where Lightroom stores them. Piece of cake!

Go to Edit > Preferences > Presets (Lightroom > Preferences > Presets on a Mac) and click the Show Lightroom Presets Folder button.

This will open that folder in either Windows Explorer or Finder on the Mac. Inside this folder you will find all your custom presets and templates in their respective subfolders. All you need to do is copy the .lrtemplate files to a new location and then transfer them to the same exact folder location on another computer running Lightroom. You can also delete presets/templates by simply dragging them to the Recycle Bin/Trash. Restart Lightroom and you will see any newly added presets/templates have been found or deleted ones removed.

This is also a great way to create a backup of your presets/templates!

The location of this preset folder is as follows:

Mac:

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom

XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom

Vista:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom