Working with Presets

Presets allow you to make instant changes to your HDR image with one click of a button. Each preset is made up of all the saved filters as well as the settings used for each of those filters.  Presets can also include Blending Mode and Opacity changes made to a filter or a layer. For each layer, a different preset can be applied, which can make for some creative results! 

Applying a Preset

In order to save time when developing your image, you’ll find an extensive collection of presets. Professional photographers from around the world have helped us create a comprehensive group of presets that give your images amazing enhancements in a single click.

To apply a preset: 

  1. Make sure an image is open in Aurora HDR 2018.
  2. If the Preset Panel isn’t visible, click its button in the Top Toolbar. 
    The Preset Panel will open at the bottom edge of the screen. You can click the Preset Panel button in the Top Toolbar to toggle displaying and hiding the presets filmstrip bar on the bottom of the window.
  3. Examine the presets available by exploring their thumbnails at the bottom of the page.  Each offers a live preview as what the image would look like with the Preset applied.
  4. Click on a Preset thumbnail to apply it. All the preset settings of the current preset are immediately applied to the image. A gold frame highlights the current preset.
  5. You can quickly switch presets by clicking on a new thumbnail. To view all the presets in a given category, simply use the arrow keys on your keyboard or the horizontal scrollbar located at the bottom of the Aurora 2018 window.
  6. If you hover your mouse over a preset an Amount slider is revealed, with the default set to 100% opacity. By moving the Amount slider located within the Preset name you can lower the intensity that the effect has on your image.
  7. Click the Star icon on a preset thumbnail to add it to your Favorites list for easy access.



If you want to apply a preset to a new adjustment layer, click the New Preset Overlay button in the upper-right corner of the preset area.  This applies the preset to a new adjustment layer.  This makes it easy to mask the layer, adjust its opacity, or change blending modes.  This is a useful way to use one preset on part of the image (such as the sky) and another the rest (such as the ground).  Be sure to read more about masking  and blending modes for greater control.


Loading Additional Presets

There are many presets included with Aurora HDR 2018.  To make it easy to manage these presets, you’ll find that they are organized into several groups and categories.

Choosing a Group

Presets are organized into three major groups. To view these options click the Categories menu at the top edge of the Presets Panel.  You’ll now see several groups (as well as categories) to choose from, including:

  • All Presets shows you both presets created by the Skylum team as well as any that you’ve saved or imported. These are listed in alphabetical order.
  • Favorite Presets are the presets that you tagged with a star (just click the hollow star on a preset’s thumbnail). Use these presets to create a consistent edit across a series of images or  to keep a shortlist of your favorite adjustments. To remove a preset from the favorite's list, click the star again.
  • Custom shows you presets that you’ve created on your own.

Choosing a Category

Presets are also organized into Categories to help sort them by style.  These categories include presets created by Skylum and professional photographers. To view by category, click the Categories menu at the top edge of the Presets Panel.  You’ll now see several categories to choose from, including:

  • Basic — versatile built-in presets suitable for all kinds of images.
  • Architecture — suitable for architecture, cities, and urban landscapes.
  • Indoor — suitable for interior shots as well as objects.
  • Landscape — suitable to nature and landscape images.
  • Realistic HDR — suitable for images for which a realistic style is desired.
  • Dramatic — a set of creative presets for stylized photos. 
  • Trey Ratcliff Volume 1 presets — signature presets by Trey Ratcliff.
  • Captain Kimo presets — signature presets by Kim Seng (AKA “Captain Kimo”).
  • Serge Ramelli presets — signature presets by Serge Ramelli.

Customizing Presets

Remember, a preset is merely a starting point. Different photographers will desire different looks.  Plus, a preset may work great on some photos, but need a little tweaking for others.  Once you select a preset, you have the ability in the Side Panel to use Filters controls to modify that preset to fit your specific image needs. 

Saving Custom Presets

As you adjust presets or build your own recipes from scratch, you may find a particular combination that you like.  Custom presets can function as the jumping off point for your own look and style. A preset can store a lot of control in an easy, one-click effect. 

  1. Adjust an existing preset or add your own effects to an image.
  2. Click the Save Filters Preset button at the bottom-right of the Filters controls.
  3. A dialog will pop-up at the top of the window asking you to name your preset.  Give it a descriptive name to help you remember which situations to use the preset.
  4. Click the Create New Preset button to store the preset. Once you've added the preset, it will appear in the User Presets group.

Modifying Custom Presets

There are additional features for user presets that are not available for the built-in presets. To access this menu for a user preset, click the small triangle next to a preset's name while hovering over the preset’s thumbnail image. 

    • Update with Current Settings. Overwrites or re-saves the preset with the current state of the sliders in the Filters controls.
    • Delete. Deletes the current user preset.
    • Rename. Renames the current preset.
    • Show in Finder. Opens a Finder (Mac) or File Explorer (PC) window for the currently selected preset file. This allows you to copy the preset and pass it on to someone else.
    • Export. Saves the current preset file to a location of your choice.

Sharing a Custom Preset

Any presets you make can be shared with other users, manually backed up to a new location, or copied to a new computer.  You can freely export your own presets and import another person’s presets into your application.

  1. To view any Custom presets simply chose File > Show Presets Folder….  Aurora HDR 2018 presets have the file extension .maup.  
  2. Select the presets you want to share, then send them to fellow Aurora HDR 2018 users.
  3. To copy presets on another machine, just choose File > Show Presets Folder… on the other computer.
  4. Simply drag the new presets into your Presets Folder. All presets in this folder appear in the Custom category and the All Presets category.
  5. For best results, restart Aurora HDR 2018 to load all the new presets.



You can take precise control over your Custom presets with the Show Presets Folder… command.

  • To export, you can simply copy files from this folder.
  • To import, just copy the files into the new presets folder.
  • To delete a preset, you can simply delete the preset file in the folder.


Adding a Custom Preset Pack

Occasionally Skylum or other professional photographers will release a collection of presets, called “Packs”. 

When you import a Custom Preset Pack, it will create a new category in the Presets category window, and display any associated presets therein.

To add a Custom Preset Pack, select the menu item File > Add Custom Presets Pack. An open dialog will be displayed, allowing you to choose the Pack you wish to add.

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