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10 Free, Easy-to-Use Instagram Presets for Stunning Photos

These free, professionally-designed Instagram presets will instantly boost the look of your photos and help you stand out in your customers’ feeds.

Katie Sehl December 3, 2019

Instagram presets are a no-brainer for any social media marketer.

Not only do they help speed up your workflow, they add that extra polish that sets your brand apart. And with more than 25 million businesses on Instagram, a little polish can go a long way.

Whether you’re new to presets or you consider yourself a preset pro, there’s plenty here for every skill level, including:

  • Free Instagram presets from Hootsuite
  • A breakdown of what Instagram presets are
  • Why you should use presets for Instagram
  • How to use Lightroom presets
  • The best Instagram preset tips and tricks

So, ready to get started? Ready, preset, go!

Save time editing photos and download your free pack of 10 customizable Instagram presets now.

What are Instagram Presets?

Instagram presets are predefined edits that allow you to transform images in a single click. In other words, they’re basically filters. Presets can be downloaded on your computer or phone, and are available from a variety of sources.

You can also create your own presets for Instagram using the photo editing app Lightroom. This can come in handy when you like the edits you make on a specific photo and want to remember them for later. Or it’s good timesaver when you find yourself making the same edits to photos repeatedly.

Why use Instagram Presets?

Here are the top three reasons you should consider using presets for Instagram:

Saves you time

No more fussing over photos for minutes upon hours. The whole point of presets is that they are hassle-free. They can be applied to images one by one, or to batches of similar photos.

The nice thing about using Lightroom presets over Instagram’s editing tools is that you can size and save your photos in high quality.

That way you can easily format it for a post or Instagram Story, where editing options are limited. You can also share the photo on other social media sites with minimal extra effort.

Bookmark this social media image size guide for future reference.

Strengthens your brand identity

Instagram filters allow you to create a cohesive aesthetic. That may not seem super important. But it could be the difference between someone following your company or not.

Visuals convey a lot of information. Without a streamlined style, your brand’s personality can get lost in the shuffle. Even worse, it could come across as chaotic and untidy.

Presets can help define your brand’s visual identity. For example, a dark and moody editorial look might fit a premium clothing company. Bright and sunny might be a better fit for a travel or childcare business.

Once you determine a preset that works for your Instagram photos and fits with your brand, you can use the same one for all your photos instead of fiddling to achieve the same look every time you create a new post.

Louise Damas Instagram gridTata Harper Instagram grid

Adds polish to your creative

The #nofilter days are long gone, especially if Instagram is an important channel for your business. Presets add the polishing touches that make your content look professional.

Creating strong visuals was once expensive. Now, with so many free tools available, there’s no excuse for a brand to post subpar content. Poor-quality images reflect on your brand. The good news is, high-quality visuals can have the opposite effect.

Show your customers and clients that your business pays attention to detail. Take advantage of Hootsuite’s free Instagram presets to sharpen your visual game.

Sezane Instagram grid

How to use free Instagram Presets

If you’re new to using presets for Instagram, they can seem a bit daunting. But our simple, step-by-step guide takes all the mystery out of it.

1. Download the app Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor on your mobile device.

lightroom app in app store

2. On your desktop, download the zip file below for our free Instagram presets, then unzip it.

Save time editing photos and download your free pack of 10 customizable Instagram presets now.

3. Open each folder to make sure it has a .png and .dng file in it. Preset files in Finder (5 blue folders)

4. Send the .dng files to your phone by email or using Airdrop. Open them on your mobile device.

5 .dng files attached to email in Gmail

5. Open each file. To save it to your phone, tap save icon (on Apple devices this is a box with an upward arrow). Then select Save Image. You may see a message that reads “Unsupported file type.” This is normal.

HS_Dark01.dng preview in Gmail showing error message "unsupported file type"

HS_Light01.dng options on mobile, showing: Copy, Save Image, Assign to Contact, or Print

6. Open Adobe Lightroom. If you do not already have an account, sign up. Tap the import icon in the lower right-hand corner to import the .dng files.

Lightroom app "Get Started" screen showing options to Add photos "From camera roll" or " From file"

7. Hootsuite’s free Instagram presets should now be in your Lightroom photo library.

5 preset files (as DNGs) in Lightroom app. They show up as blue squares with Owly in the centre + title of file.

8. Choose the preset you would like to use. Tap the three dots in the top right corner. Click Copy settings and then the checkmark ✓ in the upper right corner.

3 screens showing steps of copying settings from a selected Instagram preset within the Lightroom app

9. Click the arrow icon in the upper left corner to go back to your Lightroom photo library. Select the photo you would like to edit. Tap the three dots in the top right corner, and select Paste settings. If you don’t like the effect, just tap the under arrow at the top of your screen.

3 screens showing steps of applying the Instagram preset to a photo of Celine Dion

10. Once you are happy with your image, click the save icon and to save the image to your camera roll. Make sure to choose the maximum size available.

Final version of Celine Dion photo in Lightroom app with options to share, save to Cameral Roll, or Save to FIles

Now you’re all set to share your photo on Instagram, or any other social media network.

Tips for using Instagram presets

Lightroom presets for Instagram do most of the work for you, but there’s always room for a little fine-tuning. Use these tips for maximum preset potential.

Start with a good photo

Not even the best Instagram presets can rescue a bad photo. So before getting started, make sure you brush us on photography 101.

Image quality is important. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a fancy digital camera. If you have access to one and know how to use it, you should. If you don’t, use your phone. Smartphone cameras keep getting better and better.

Here are a few photography basics:

  • Focus on a subject and frame it accordingly
  • Use natural light as much as possible
  • Avoid using flash if you can, especially for portraits
  • Clean your lens to avoid blurry images
  • Make sure your original file is not too small

Here are some more tips for creating engaging visual content on social media.

Make adjustments when needed

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Instagram preset. Some presets simply won’t work with certain photos, in which case you shouldn’t use them.

In other cases, minor adjustments may be required. For example, perhaps the Instagram preset makes the photo too dark. Something like this can be easily fixed by upping the exposure or reducing the shadows in the Light tab.

You can also use Lightroom to straighten crooked photos, or to crop out the unwanted photobomb. These features can be found in the Crop tab.

Don’t oversaturate images

A cardinal sin in the creative world is oversaturation. There are almost no cases where a supersaturated image is called for—and those times are best left to professionals.

Watch out especially for high-volume blues and reds, or the lime green and neon pinks that are caused by chromatic aberration. To remove chromatic aberration, scroll through the menu at the bottom of your screen and select optics. Then tap Remove Chromatic Aberration.

Vibrant colours can be created in various ways. In many cases it can simply be a matter of brightening the exposure photo that was taken in a dark setting. You can also adjust colour temperature and vibrance in the Color tab of the menu.

Stick to a few styles

Remember, one of the best reasons to use Instagram presets is to ensure your feed has a cohesive look. That won’t work if you use too many different kinds.

Keep a few filters on hand that work for different styles of photos you post. This way you can add variety to your feed without compromising its overall cohesion. Take a checkered pattern approach so that you evenly alternate between presets and styles.

You can plan and preview what your feed will look like with Instagram tools like UNUM or Preview App. Or do it the free and old-fashioned way and storyboard. Just copy images into three-square grid in a Google Doc or related program.

After that you can go ahead and schedule your posts. Here’s how to do it.

Our free Instagram preset downloads

Basic Instagram presets

Dark (01)

Dark (02)

Light (01)

Light (02)


Bonus Instagram presets for specific vibes


street at night with neon signs


exterior of apartment building on sunny day


exterior of 1970s brick building


mountain view with trees and blue sky


dock leading into the ocean

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish your perfectly edited photos directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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By Katie Sehl

Katie is a writer and photographer based in Toronto. She used to be indecisive, but now she's not sure.

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