Lightroom is an excellent program editing and managing your image files. When it comes to organizing and developing your photos, Lightroom can’t be beaten. However, there are times when it slows down; like when it renders previews. To address this, here are ten tips that will make Lightroom Classic CC run faster.
Update Lightroom regularly
Let’s start with the simplest tip: update Lightroom regularly.
Word is that Adobe has been working diligently behind the scenes on improving the performance of Lightroom, so it’s important to keep it updated.
To check for updates, click on -> Help in the top menu bar in Lightroom and then click on -> Updates to install them.
Optimize your Catalog
Lightroom continually updates the catalog file, but eventually, the data structure can become less optimal.
Lightroom has an “optimize catalog” option you can enable to improve performance.
To access this option, go to Lightroom -> Preferences and click on -> Performance.
Then click on -> Optimize Performance.
Set up Lightroom to back up on a regular schedule, and set it to optimize the catalog following the backup.
You can backup as often as you like. Ensure you always have the latest backup in case your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupt.
Be sure to discard previous backups to keep them from slowing down your computer.
More on this in a bit.
Store your Lightroom Catalog and Previews on your main hard drive
Lightroom stores your catalog and preview files on your main hard drive by default.
To check where the catalog and previews files are stored, go to Lightroom -> Catalog Setting (Mac) or -> Edit -> Catalog Settings (PC).
The Catalog name is an .lrcat file and its location can be found under the -> General tab.
The preview file is an .lrdata file and it is stored in the same location.
Check your hard drive space
If your computer’s main hard drive is running low on space, Lightroom will slow down, as will any other programs that you’re running simultaneously, like Photoshop.
Your main hard drive needs at least 20% free space for Lightroom to run optimally.
Keep in mind that Lightroom can actually be one of the reasons you’re running low on space!
If you have Lightroom set to back up your catalog every day or every time you close it down, that can result in a lot of space being taken up by backup files.
Delete all of these backup files except the last couple of backups you have made.
It’s important to have the latest backup in case your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupt, but that is all you really need.
Convert your images to DNG when importing into Lightroom
DNG is short for Digital Negative. It’s a RAW file format created by Adobe.
When you convert a file into DNG, Lightroom ads Fast Load Data to the file, which results in a partially processed preview that allows Lightroom to render faster previews in the Develop module.
Adobe claims that a DNG file with Fast Load Data can load up to eight times faster.
Another benefit of converting to DNG files is that they are smaller files than other RAW formats and take up 20% less space on your hard drive.
You must enable this Fast Load Data under your Lightroom Preferences tab.
Go to -> File Handling and check off Embed Fast Load Data. Make sure you have DNG selected as the file extension.
Edit your images using Adobe’s recommended Adjustment Steps
The panels in the Develop module are organized according to a suggested workflow.
Adobe also recommends that adjustments in Lightroom follow a certain order to maximize performance. They are as follows:
- Spot Healing
- Lens Correction
- Global Adjustments
- Local Adjustments
- Noise Reduction
Whenever you make an edit, Lightroom applies it and calculates the previous adjustments that have been made. The more adjustments you apply, the more Lightroom slows down.
This helps keep track of your edits but slows down your system because Lightroom is calculating adjustments as you edit.
I personally stick to this order, except that I start by adjusting my white balance.
I also leave detailed edits for Photoshop. For example, as using the spot healing brush repeatedly can slow Lightroom down significantly. You are better off using this tool in Photoshop, which is also more precise.
Also, editing your images in the order they appear in your Lightroom filmstrip can have an impact on speed.
Lightroom caches images for faster performance in the Develop module.
It will automatically load the next and previous images in the filmstrip below your photos in the memory.
In the screenshot below, the active image is highlighted with a lighter grey background. The images on either side have also been loaded into memory for quick access.
Build standard previews on Import
Lightroom offers several preview settings for your images.
Although there are differing opinions as to which is the optimal preview setting, I suggest building standard previews on import.
This will slow down the import process, but it will make the Library module more responsive when you review the imported images. Lightroom renders the previews from your SSD, rather than building them from the RAW files.
Make sure your previews are set close to the width of your screen.
For example, I work on a 27-inch iMac with a 5120 x 2880 built-in retina display. This means my display should be set at 5120 pixels.
To make this adjustment, go to the -> Catalog Settings and choose -> File Handling.
Choose the previews size under -> Standard Preview Size.
Make your Camera RAW cache larger
Lightroom has a Preview Cache, which is stored with your Catalog file and used in the Library view.
It also has a Camera RAW cache, which loads the image date when you’re in the Develop module.
The default size for this is 1GB, which slows down performance due to Lightroom swapping images in and out of its cache while you’re editing.
I suggest setting the Camera RAW cache to 20 or 30GB.
To set this option go to your Lightroom -> Preferences and click -> Performance.
Set your desired maximum size RAW cache Settings.
Disable XMP Writing
Lightroom keeps track of the edits you make in the Develop module in its catalog. If something happens to this catalog, you can lose all your data.
Lightroom can be configured to write the develop setting data into an XMP file. This a small file that contains the edit information and is written to your computer’s hard drive in the same place as your original RAW file.
The problem is that writing changes into this file can really slow your computer down.
I suggest disabling this feature and make sure that you always have a current backup instead.
Pause Address and Face Lookup features
Lightroom allows you to look up image address based on the GPS data, or the ability to search for faces.
However, allowing these options to run in the background can slow Lightroom down. So it’s best to pause them while you’re actually editing your photos.
You can start them up again if they’re relevant to your editing process.
For example, as a food photographer, I don’t use these features so I have mine set permanently on “pause”.
To access these features, go to where your name appears in the top left-hand corner of the Lightroom interface and click on the arrow beside it to access the drop-down menu. Choose -> Pause.
When it comes to archiving, organizing and all-around management of your photos, Lightroom is an amazing program.
Hopefully, these tips help you get the most out of the program and speed up its performance so you can spend less time editing and more time shooting!