How to Install ABR Files in Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop has two ways to install new brushes: Using the in-app Preset Manager, and by directly dragging and dropping the brush file into Photoshop. After installation, you can use and manage your installed brushes with little difficulty once you get the hang of Photoshop's interface.

Tip

Unzipping the Brushes

Many of the free brushes you find online come archived in a ZIP file. Windows features built-in support for ZIP files, so extracting your brushes for use doesn't require any additional software.

(Image: Image courtesy of Microsoft.)
  1. Right-click the brush ZIP file.
  2. Select Extract All.
  3. Click Extract.

Tip

  • By default, extracted files are put in their own folder. This folder has the same name as the ZIP file. If preferred, you can always cut or copy and paste the brush files into a different folder for more centralized storage.

    Once the brush files are extracted, it's safe to delete the ZIP files.

Warning

  • Some brush creators use other archival formats like 7Z or RAR. Windows doesn't natively support these formats, so you need archival software like 7-Zip, WinRAR or WinZip to extract them.

Installing the Brushes

Once the brushes are extracted, it's time to install them for use. Brush installation is performed entirely within Photoshop, so start up the program to begin.

Step 1

Click Edit from the menu bar and select Presets, followed by Preset Manager.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Step 2

Select Brushes from the Preset Type drop-down menu, then click Load.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Step 3

Select the folder where you've saved your brushes and select the brush you want to add. Click Load.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Tip

  • As a quick alternative, you can also drag and drop the brush file directly into your Photoshop workspace from its folder.

Using Your New Brushes

To use your new brushes, just click the Paintbrush tool or press B on your keyboard.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Click the Brush drop-down menu and select your brush. By default, this drop-down is at the top of the screen.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Transferring Brushes to Another Computer

If you want to share your brushes with another user or transfer them to another computer in your home that uses Photoshop, you can export your brushes to an ABR file and add them to the new computer.

Step 1

Click Edit, then select Presets followed by Manage Presets.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Step 2

Select Brushes from the Preset Type drop-down menu, then select the brushes you want to export into an ABR file and click Save Set.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

Tip

  • If the brushes are all contiguous, select the first one in the group and then Shift-Click the last one in the group. If they aren't, then Ctrl-Click all the brushes you want to add to the ABR file.

Step 3

Select a location to save the brush file and give the library a descriptive name. Click Save when you're done, then transfer the file to the other computer using your preferred method of data transfer. Follow the installation instructions above to add the new brushes to the other computer.

(Image: Image courtesy of Adobe.)

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