Installing custom presets in Photoshop

I’m surprised how many people ask about this, it’s really very simple. Like everything in Photoshop, there are multiple ways to do it.

First Method

This first method you’ll need to close Photoshop first. Then navigate to your Photoshop presets directory – it’s usually something like C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop X\Presets. In this directory are multiple other directories where your presets are stored, it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Custom brushes (ABR) go in the Brushes directory, shapes (CSH) in the Shapes directory, styles (ASL) in the Styles directory, patterns (PAT) in – you guessed it – the Patterns directory. And so on. In the Presets directory is also where your actions (ATN) are stored. Guess where? In the Actions directory!

Simple right? Just stick your new custom shapes or brushes or whatever into their corresponding directories, and the next time you open Photoshop you’ll have access to them via their respective menus.

You can also load your new custom goodies from inside Photoshop.

Second Method

To load new brushes from within Photoshop, open the Brushes window (WINDOW>BRUSHES) and click the hamburger menu on the top right of the window. This will open a fly-out menu that gives you a bunch of options. You’ll also see a menu selection labeled IMPORT BRUSHES.

Load brushes in Photoshop

To load new actions, do the same on the Actions window, the same goes for new shapes, swatches, gradients, patterns etc. Depending on which version of Photoshop you have, it could say LOAD or IMPORT.


The more presets you have loaded, the more memory Photoshop needs. If you’ve just loaded a million patterns and suddenly Photoshop starts bogging down, that’s why. If you’re making your own brushes, patterns, styles etc or adding to or deleting from an existing set and you go to replace it with a new set, Photoshop will ask you if you want to save your changes first. It’s a bit of a life saver really – I’ve almost deleted things it’s taken me hours of tweaking to get right.

Note about file versions

Brushes created in Photoshop 7 will work in Photoshop CS or later versions, but the ones created with CS+ won’t work with earlier versions.

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