Today we’re diving into some tools and techniques to enhance your Photoshop editing skills. We’re learning about Photoshop Presets, what they can do your workflow vs. Photoshop Actions, and breaking down the specifics of each. Let’s get into it. 

What are Adobe Photoshop Presets?

Photoshop Presets is a way of applying presets within the Adobe Photoshop Software. Using Photoshop Presets is a simple workflow, and it takes place in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). ACR is a Photoshop plug in that automatically appears when a RAW file is opened with Photoshop. In ACR, you can edit and add presets onto an image before loading it into Photoshop for further editing. 

Editing with Photoshop Presets is straightforward and intuitive, and all edits made in ACR can be reversed. ACR follows a basic editing layout with sliders to control color, contrast, vibrance, highlights, shadows - similar to Lightroom. Any presets that have already been imported into Adobe Lightroom will also conveniently synch over into ACR. This makes it easy to work interchangeably across both softwares, and apply a consistent photo aesthetic (what presets are awesome for!). 

You can also choose to create your own photoshop presets within ACR, or import predesigned preset profiles. For example, if you have already downloaded the Phlow Prosets Package into Lightroom, they will automatically appear in ACR. This makes it easy to edit with the Phlow in both Lightroom and Photoshop, and is great if your photos have specific needs to each software.  

How to open Adobe Camera Raw with a RAW file and a JPEG?

ACR is primarily designed to be edited with RAW files hence the name Adobe Camera Raw! However what’s also great about ACR is the ability to edit with JPEGs too. To edit with a RAW photo (.DNG) - simply right click on the file, and select Open With > “Adobe Photoshop” and the ACR window will automatically open with the image.

With JPEGs, if you follow these same steps, ACR will not open and you will be sent into Photoshop. But there is a workaround. Once your JPEG is open in Photoshop: Right click on it in the Layers panel > convert it to a Smart Object. From there: Click Filter > Camera Raw Filter > then your JPEG image will open in ACR. Once you’ve made your changes, click Open Image to get back into Photoshop. You’ll see that the Camera Raw Filter will be applied as a Smart Filter. This allows you to double click it in the Layers panel, and ACR will open again, letting you adjust the edits you made. 


How to Import Photoshop Presets into Adobe Camera Raw?

You can easily import Photoshop Presets straight into ACR so you can start editing. Follow the labeled instructions below. In ACR, navigate to the Presets Menu which is represented by a logo with two overlapping circles -  this will be on the right hand side of the window (or shift + P on Mac). Once you're in the Presets tab, click on the three white dots and scroll down to the bottom > “Import Profiles & Presets.” You can then navigate to the original .zip file you downloaded for the Presets, and you should be good to go!






















How to Import the Phlow Prosets into Adobe Camera Raw?

The good news is that if you’ve already imported the Phlow Prosets into Lightroom, they will already be in ACR! (If you haven’t imported them into Lightroom, follow the above instructions to import). The Phlow Prosets will already be loaded into the Presets window - just click on the white arrow to expand them, click through the profiles, and pick out your favorite. Editing with Presets in Photoshop follows a similar workflow to Lightroom. Once you’ve applied your chosen profile, you can adjust the intensity slider in relation to the exposure and warmth (the main two other adjustments we always make with the Phlow!).  


Phlow Edit made in ACR: Art 02 + Portrait 02 + Medium Grain

What is a Photoshop Action?

A Photoshop Action is another technique for efficient photo editing in Photoshop. A Photoshop Action is a collected sequence of adjustments (exposure, highlights, contrast etc.) made during the process of a photo edit. Instead of combining all these specific steps into one filter (like a Preset) - these steps are broken down into individual tasks and recorded into a sequence - or a Photoshop Action. This sequence of edits can then be pasted onto other images to achieve editing consistency efficiently. Photoshop Actions can be useful for applying the same edit onto a large collection of photos quickly - a wedding, or a photoshoot is a good example. 

Like Presets, you can create your own Photoshop Action and apply it to your images, or download pre-designed actions. Once you have opened an image into Photoshop, one can apply the action, play it, and watch as the image is edited. You also have the ability to adjust the speed in which the action is played back. Adding Pre-designed Photoshop Actions to your images could be helpful for learning how to go about editing a photo, step by step. 

Photoshop Actions can be a powerful tool, however are not as user friendly as Photoshop Presets and require more familiarity with Photoshop. Photoshop Actions can also only be used on JPEGs which is another drawback if you are working with RAW files (learn more about RAW vs. JPEG here). This means that you would have to convert your RAW file to a JPEG prior to editing. 

How to import a Photoshop Action?

Open your image into Photoshop and navigate to the “Actions” panel. If your panel is not already open go to Windows > Actions. Click on the fly out menu > “Load Actions.” Navigate to where you saved your downloaded Action files which must be in “.atn formats.” Once you have found it, hit load and you should be able to see your new actions in the Actions panel!

 Phlow Edit made in ACR: Art 02 + Portrait 02 + Medium Grain

Photoshop Action vs. Photoshop Profile?

To summarize and break down what we’ve learned:


  • Takes place in Adobe Camera Raw - Photoshop Plug in 
  • Able to make your own Presets, or download predesigned Presets (i.e. the Phlow)
  • Any Presets already imported in Lightroom sync with ACR
  • Able to edit with RAW and JPEGs
  • Intuitive editing process, easy to follow 
  • Applied instantly


  • Takes places in Photoshop 
  • Able to make your Actions, or download predesigned Actions 
  • Can only edit with JPEGs
  • More advanced userface, less intuitive 
  • In control of the playback speed 

Photoshop Presets and Photoshop Actions are both great tools to enhance your image editing, efficiency, and each one may be specific to your photo needs. We are always looking for a workflow that is intuitive and smooth - which is why we lean towards Photoshop Presets. And we love having the ability to work with the Phlow Profiles in both Lightroom and Photoshop! 

Is there a better alternative to Presets?

Yes! Here at the Phlow we’ve figured it out - it all comes down to custom profiles. We’ve combined a preset AND a custom profile to create what we call a Proset. A Proset is changing the game of editing as it keeps the efficiency and aesthetics that come with using presets, while allowing for more creative freedom and flexibility within the editing process.

Thanks for joining us in discovering new Photoshop techniques to enhance your editing skills! We hope it's been beneficial in helping you discover the right workflow for you :) Stay tuned!

April 28, 2021

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