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How to Use Presets in Adobe Camera Raw (for Free)

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Lightroom used to use the file extension .lrtemplate which meant that using presets made for Lightroom were limited to only that software. Thankfully Lightroom (and Photoshop) now use the file extension .xmp, previously only used by Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). If you’ve a new version of Lightroom and old presets, they’ll automatically be converted.

The great news about the .xmp format is that it means you can use actions that were created for Lightroom in Adobe Camera Raw (and vice versa!). Here we'll take a look at how you can do that.

How to Find Compatible Presets for ACR

As more time passes, gradually all the actions created will be in .xmp format, but wisely, most preset authors are updating older .lrtemplate sets to include .xmp.

When you’re searching for Lightroom presets, look for ones that specify the file type(s) included in the description.

Look for xmp in the descriptionLook for xmp in the descriptionLook for xmp in the description
Look for xmp in the description

How to Install Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

To demonstrate, here’s a set from Envato Elements.

Folksy Presets for Lightroom & ACR

Folksy - available on Envato ElementsFolksy - available on Envato ElementsFolksy - available on Envato Elements
Folksy - available on Envato Elements

There are two ways you can install these into ACR.

Method 1 - Install Via ACR Preset Panel

Leave your download as a zip file and in ACR, go to Presets.

Go to 'Presets'Go to 'Presets'Go to 'Presets'
Go to 'Presets'

In the top right corner, click the three dots icon and choose Import Profiles & Presets.

Choose import presetsChoose import presetsChoose import presets
Choose import presets

Navigate to where you saved your zip file and choose it. The problem with this method is that ACR sometimes dumps the set into User Presets and you end up with a long list in that dropdown sub menu rather than keeping the set together neatly. For that reason I’d recommend the second installation method.

Method 2 - Install Directly Into Adobe Presets Folder

Navigate to the Preset folder of Adobe Camera Raw on your operating system. For example the extension will usually be something like XXX > Adobe > CameraRaw > Settings > Adobe > Presets. If you’re struggling to find it, search your OS for Camera Raw and right-click, then select Open File Location.

Unzip the file and drop the relevant folder into Presets.

Presets are dropped into the folderPresets are dropped into the folderPresets are dropped into the folder
Presets are dropped into the folder

Your presets should now appear in the list in Adobe Camera Raw.

Your Presets Will Appear in the Preset TabYour Presets Will Appear in the Preset TabYour Presets Will Appear in the Preset Tab
Your Presets Will Appear in the Preset Tab

How to Use and Adjust the Presets

Unlike Profiles and LUTs in ACR, which make adjustments based on table values, Presets actually adjust your edit sliders. Remember this, because if you make basic adjustments to your image and then apply a preset, you’ll undo a lot of what you’ve already done as the sliders will shift to the pre-programmed values. Make sure you apply the preset first and then adjust.

preset appliedpreset appliedpreset applied

I’ve applied Pearly Tones – Matte from the Folksy collection.

preset applied changes shownpreset applied changes shownpreset applied changes shown

If I show you the Basic Adjustments tab as well as the before and after (above), you can see the effect of the preset but also how that’s moved the sliders. You can alter those to get a more refined, bespoke version of the preset.

Reset to defaultReset to defaultReset to default
Reset to default

If you don't like the result but you don't want to have to manually adjust all the sliders, you can either select a new preset to try, or just click the three dots on the far right menu and select Reset to Default to put your photo back to its original state.

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Learn More About Adobe Camera Raw

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