You've worked hard to create and organize your presets in Lightroom and you've also purchased your favorite preset collections from online vendors. Was all this effort and expense in vain when it comes to your beloved mobile photography activities? Fear not because this article will show you how to apply any desktop Lightroom presets to your photos on yoursmartphone.
To begin, install the Lightroom Mobile app for Android or iOS and log in with your Adobe credentials. To avoid confusion, in this article I will refer to the desktop version of Lightroom simply as Lightroom, and the mobile app as Lightroom Mobile.
Before we start, let's clear an important point. Lightroom Mobile is a subset of what we have available on Lightroom. As a result, at the time of this writing, you cannot create presets directly in Lightroom Mobile and you cannot have a formal preset list there. But there is a great way to bypass this limitation! Before going to Lightroom Mobile, we need a little bit of preparatory work in Lightroom...
Open any convenient Lightroom catalog. In Library mode, go to the bottom left panel labeled "Collections" and press on the "+" sign to create a new collection. Here, I have conveniently called mine "LR Mobile presets".
Pick any convenient unprocessed photo in the catalog. It does not matter which photo it is, as we will only want to later access its settings in Lightroom Mobile. Saying this, it is best to choose a daytime photo with which you can easily detect the results of applied presets. This will help you later in more easily assessing and choosing convenient presets in your work in Lightroom Mobile. Drag your photo and add it to the collection we just created.
All we have to do now is create as many virtual copies of this photo as the presets you want to access in Lightroom Mobile. Each one of them will be the equivalent of a preset when working on your photos in Lightroom Mobile. The easiest way to create a virtual copy is to right-click on the photo and choose "Create Virtual Copy" from the popup menu or press Ctrl + ' (apostrophe) on your keyboard.
Repeat to arrive at the number of copies you need. For the sake of this example, I used the original plus three copies to use with a total of four presets. Here is how they look in Lightroom's bottom strip.
Now go ahead and apply each of the presets you want to access in Lightroom Mobile. Since my example photo was shot in November, I have conveniently picked the "Haze", "Gold /blue b&w", Bright Fall" and "Add cool" presets from the Luxe Fall preset collection.
Click on the badge next to the Lightroom logo on the top left of the Lightroom window. Start syncing by clicking the first option in the popup menu.
To make sure your collection will be visible in Lightroom Mobile, make sure it is synced. Right click on it and ensure the "Sync with Lightroom mobile" option is checked. Lightroom signifies syncing with a bidirectional arrow sign just on the left of the collection's name (that I show with my own green arrow below).
We will now continue all our work inside Lightroom Mobile. Connect your smartphone to the Internet and open Lightroom Mobile. At the top of the screen, there is a small cloud icon that shows you what happens with syncing. In the screen sample below, everything is synced. If this isn't the case with yours, just tap on the cloud icon and enable syncing.
You now have to wait (not my favorite part!). If you have a large number of presets, syncing will take longer. When everything is synced, Lightroom Mobile will show you your collection alongside the photos you shot with Lightroom Mobile's camera and any other synced collections.
Now you can finally choose and apply presets. Tap on the collection with the Lightroom presets we just synced.
Tap the photo with the preset you'd like and wait until it fully loads. To be sure that this is so, wait for the histogram of the photo to appear on the screen just above your preset photo.
Now tap and go back twice to the folder screen and tap on the folder holding the photos on which you want to apply your preset.
Tap the photo you want to apply the preset to and make sure the histogram has appeared (photo fully loaded, arrow 1). Tap anywhere on the tool box at the bottom of the screen (arrow 2). A second strip with various settings will appear just above it, scroll to the very right and tap on "Previous" (arrow 3).
Tap “Everything from Previous” in the popup menu.
Ready! The preset settings have now been applied to your photo!
For further work, carry on repeating action 4. To add/remove presets, you have to go back to Lightroom to add/remove copies of the sample photo, apply desktop presets accordingly, and synchronize anew with Lightroom Mobile. This way, you can always carry your presets with you!
The mobile part of photo editing is very much a work in progress for Adobe Lightroom. As screens get larger and processing power increases, new features will be added by Adobe. I would not be surprised if at some point Adobe added full preset functionality to its app. For now, however, we have to make do with this indirect -but very effective- method, which is a practical way to process photos on the go.
About the author: Dimitrios Matsoulis is an engineer that studied in the UK and has an industrial automation and solar energy background. His love for outdoor activities and photography has naturally led him to photo editing. He uses Lightroom and Photoshop for his own photography as well as freelancing. He lives in Greece and maintains his online presence via his personal photography blog, 500px and Instagram.