Ever since Adobe updated Lightroom earlier this month and changed the way presets are stored, there has been a lot of confusion around the new system, and I myself have been caught out by this too. In fact, I was so confused by the changes, I mistook one aspect of the new format entirely, and ended up putting out some incorrect information. Luckily a reader set me straight, and so here is the semi-definitive guide to the new preset format.
First of all, if you have upgraded to 7.3, you may want to get the latest point update (released yesterday at the time of writing this) as it fixes some of the bugs that were introduced with 7.3. These were mostly to do with the sorting of presets, but there were a few other bugs too, and this point update is supposed to address those.
Note, if you have any of my presets, and they were installed before you upgraded, then you don’t need to do anything. This information is primarily intended for those who may need to re-install presets at a later date, or are installing them after upgrading to Lightroom 7.3
The new format
In a nutshell, Adobe changed the format that Lightroom presets used from the old .lrtemplate format, which used their own data structure (I think) to a standard .xmp file format. This new format is also shared with Photoshop and Camera Raw, and in fact presets are now shared between the two.
New .xmp presets go into a different location than the old presets, and this new “settings” folder is the same location as you use to store presets for Camera Raw now too. As I said, presets are now shared between Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. The new format also supports some additional things that the old format didn’t. You can now add copyright information for example. The new “creative profiles” that were also announced as part of Lightroom 7.3, also use the same .xmp format and the files go in the same place. In fact, they are a variation of the new preset format. The new files can also have sorting information built into the preset, rather than be based on the folder structure where they’re stored, which I suspect may have been part of the problems with upgrading.
Upgrading & compatibility
It is the process of upgrading older presets that tripped me up at first. I had read from a reliable source that Lightroom only upgraded legacy presets once, at the time of upgrading to 7.3. However, it turns out that this is not the case at all. If you install new legacy .lrtemplate presets, Lightroom will detect the new presets and upgrade these the next time you launch Lightroom. This means that older presets remain compatible, at least for now.
So, if you want to install legacy .lrtemplate presets, you can do so, just as you used to. You install them into the original preset destination, and then when you relaunch Lightroom, it will run through the upgrade process again.
I had kind of panicked when this release came out as I thought all my presets would be incompatible, but it turns out I was worrying over nothing. They should all still work as before, with the only difference being the upgrading step which happens automatically.
Mixing new and old presets
If you are installing both new and old presets, then you need to make sure that you put them into the right location. So here is a handy diagram to help you make sure you put the right ones in the right place.
The root folder location for this diagram (below) is different on windows and macOS. The simplest way to get to this is to open Lightroom, then go to preferences -> presets and click on the show presets button. This will open the Lightroom folder. You need to go up one level in the hierarchy to get to the root Adobe folder. Or you can go to the location directly in either the finder or windows explorer.
Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/ PC: C:\ProgramData\Adobe\
To go to a specific folder on a Mac, from the Finder menu choose Go > Go To Folder…