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Importing and Exporting Photoshop and Lightroom Presets

Adobe allows the installation of its Photoshop and Lightroom software on two different computers. If you work on different machines, as many of us do, it can be incredibly handy to have the same presets, shortcut keys and settings apply when working with Photoshop and Lightroom, no matter which machine you’re working on. For me, I have a desktop computer than does the heavy lifting of my image editing, both in Photoshop and Lightroom. But I also use a laptop for tethered capture and, when traveling, the occasional round of editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. I’ve spent years developing shortcuts in Photoshop, for instance, which use certain key combinations to trigger Photoshop actions tied to specific editing steps. I’ve also got my workspace set up with palettes just as I like to have them and a handful of other presets that come in handy during editing. In Lightroom, I’ve built several “recipes,” or RAW image adjustment combinations in the Develop module, which I’ve saved as presets. I apply those presets to files during import or when I edit those images shortly thereafter. In any case, I’ve built up lots of muscle memory on my desktop machine so when I’m in Photoshop and I press F3, for instance, I expect it to run the particular editing action that I’ve programmed. On my laptop, in order to have the same F3 shortcut key respond as I intend, I need to export the presets from my desktop, in both Photoshop and Lightroom, and then import those presets into the applications on my laptop. Here’s how I do it.

To start exporting presets, open Photoshop and look for the Presets heading on the Edit menu. Hover here, then click on Import/Export Presets to open up the Import/Export dialogue. Click on Export to reveal a window of your existing preset options (Your Presets) and double-click select which presets you would like to export. You can then choose where to save that folder, your desktop, for instance, or straight into a Dropbox folder as I did.

If you’ve got other Photoshop setting you’d like to copy to another computer, you can always go straight to the files and simply copy the appropriate presets, actions or settings and replace them in the appropriate folder on the new computer. For instance, to copy all of the actions from one machine, look for the file called Actions_Palette.psp. To copy brushes, look for the file called brushes.psp. For Mac users, it will be found along with the rest of Photoshop’s presets in [User]/Library/Preferences/Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 Settings. Windows users can find Photoshop presets in C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC 2018\Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 version Settings. Take the appropriate preset file from this folder in the old computer and copy it to the corresponding folder on the new computer, restart Photoshop and look to find the appropriate presets all loaded up and ready to go.

In Lightroom, exporting Develop presets is as easy as finding the preset you’d like to export in the Develop module, right-clicking on the preset and choosing Export from the popup menu. You can then choose where to save the preset, for importing later on your second machine. This approach works great if you’ve just got a few presets to copy, but if you’ve got several you’ll want a faster than one-by-one approach. For that, simply find the folder where the presets are stored and copy them from one machine to the other. To find the folder, simply open Lightroom and right-click on a preset and choose Show in Finder from the popup menu that appears. This will take you straight to the folder full of presets pertinent to Lightroom’s Develop settings. You can also access Lightroom’s presets by opening Preferences in the Lightroom menu, then clicking on the Preferences tab and looking for the button labeled “Show Lightroom Presets Folder.” No matter how you chose to arrive here, from this point you can copy the entire folder of Develop Presets (including its subfolder of User Presets and others you’ve installed) and use the same shortcut to get to the corresponding folder on the second computer.

There are lots of other presets here that you may want to copy as well. Export presets, for instance, will help with all those shortcuts you’ve created for outputting files according to certain specifications. If you use keywords or layout templates, or really any of the many other tools in Lightroom, if they contain presets you can find them in Lightroom’s Presets folder. Updating the files on a second machine is as simple as copying the appropriate preset file to the same folder on the new computer and then restarting Lightroom in order to activate the new settings. Ultimately, spending just a few minutes transferring presets is a great way to end up saving hours of repetitive work when you begin handling files on a secondary machine and expect your editing to work the same way on multiple devices.

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