Batch Editing: How to Apply a Preset to Multiple Photos in Lightroom

Last Updated on

By now, pretty much every Lightroom user knows that preset-based editing is the fastest and most efficient way to edit a large number of photos in Lightroom. To do this, you record your most common editing steps as a preset that you can later reuse by applying its effects to multiple photos.

But there is another variation to preset-based editing—preset batch editing. Batch editing is when you edit multiple photos in Lightroom simultaneously.

Batch Editing: How to Apply Preset to Multiple Photos in Lightroom

For example, when you return home from a day-long shoot and need to process hundreds of photos. You normally start by selecting one photo that you spend time developing. Once you are happy with the results, you save all the editing steps as a preset so you can apply it to the rest of the photos.

But how to apply that preset to multiple photos in Lightroom is not exactly obvious.

In the Develop Module, if you select multiple photos in the filmstrip and try to apply the preset to all of them, Lightroom only applies the preset to the active photo, which is displayed in the Loop View. The preset is not applied to the rest of the selection.

Active Image vs Selected Images

Let me show you four options to make preset batch editing in Lightroom easier.

Synchronization Method

Start by first applying the preset to the active image in the Develop Module. The active image is the image you see above the film strip as the large preview.

Next, select multiple images in the filmstrip while ensuring that the original image remains active.

With multiple images selected, hit the SYNC… button at the bottom right of the editing panel.

Once you hit the SYNC… button, you are presented with the Synchronization Settings panel where you can select which parameters you want to synchronize.

Synchronization Settings Panel

For example, you might deselect the Exposure checkbox because you will likely need to tweak the exposure settings for each image individually. Another common option to deselect is the Crop Overlay since uniformed cropping is rarely used across multiple images.

Once you are happy with your selections, press Synchronize Button and wait as Lightroom batch processes all the selected images by applying identical development settings to each of the images.

There are some disadvantages to this method:

  • If you applied some additional editing steps to the original image after applying the preset, synchronizing will use the same combined effect.
  • In the History Panel, you can find the Synchronize Settings entry but this will not tell you what exact preset was used.

Previous Method

This is another way to use batch processing in the Develop Module. To be more accurate, we should call this—semi-batch processing.

In this method, you apply the preset to the active photo in the Develop Module. Once you are done making any additional edits, you can click on another image in the filmstrip to make it active.

Next, hit the PREVIOUS button located at the bottom right of the editing panel in the Develop Module. All the editing steps from the previous image will now be applied to the active image.

This is not exactly batch processing, but this method can be extremely useful when editing multiple photos in Lightroom that require minor adjustments for each image.

For example, you apply the preset to the active image first. Next, you adjust the exposure and contrast before moving to the next image. By using the PREVIOUS button, you can quickly go through a large number of images to ensure each image has the customized settings you prefer.

Quick Develop Method

Use the “G” shortcut to switch from the Develop Module to the Library Module in Grid View.

Select multiple photos in the Grid View by holding down the Shift (Option on Mac) key. From the right panel, open the Quick Develop panel by pressing the triangular icon.

From the Saved Presets drop-down menu, select one of the presets. The effect of the selected preset will be applied to all of the selected images in the Grid View.

Quick Develop Method in the Library Module

Import Method

Another option to apply a preset to multiple photos is to apply it during the initial process of importing images into the Lightroom Catalog.

When you are ready to import multiple photos into Lightroom, you have a variety of import options.

Under the Apply During Import panel in the Import Module, you can specify what Develop Preset to apply to all the photos by selecting the appropriate preset from the Develop Settings drop-down menu.

For example, you may want to apply the Lens Correction preset to all your new images. Or, since the AI editing options in Lightroom are now more powerful, you can apply Auto Tone Adjustments to all the images in Lightroom. This tells Lightroom to calculate and make the initial tone adjustments for every imported image.

  • David Martin says:

    Great post! Note that you can automate this process using the LoupeDeck or LoupeDeck+.

  • >