Best Way to Speed up Lightroom

Speed Up Lightroom
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Here’s another quick tip for you that you can take advantage of immediately to speed up Lightroom, potentially cutting your post processing time in half. as long as you own a copy of Lightroom 5 or later, you’ve already got all you need to make Lightroom faster.

With the release of Lightroom 6, there have already been some improvements in the speed of Lightroom on the whole, but for me, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite the ability to utilise the computer’s GPU to improve speed in Lightroom 6, browsing through photos can still be sluggish, especially in the Develop module.

With software such as Photo Mechanic allowing you to breeze through your photos at lightning speed, it makes you wonder why Adobe can’t implement similar technology in their own products.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated at the speed of Lightroom, especially when applying batch edits which include several adjustments. Batch editing in this way is one of the huge time saving advantages of Lightroom, so unless it works quickly, it can become quite a painful process.

That’s why when I came across this tip (originally proposed to me by photographer Sam Hurd), I leapt at the chance to speed up Lightroom.

How to Speed up Lightroom with Smart Previews

The Single Best Way to Speed Up Lightroom

I’ve tweaked the original tip slightly to suit my own workflow, but however you use it, I am sure that you will notice an immediate improvement in the speed of your Lightroom as regards browsing and editing.

So watch the video below about what is in my opinion the single best way to speed up Lightroom, and leave me a comment if you find it useful. I’d also really appreciate it if you share this post on your social media. I think a lot of photogs out there will find it useful too ;-)

If you’re looking for the best place to buy Lightroom, or want some free Lightroom presets, be sure to explore the Shotkit blog which is packed with hidden treasures!

And finally, it’s worth noting that the best way to speed up Lightroom is… to outsource your editing! Getting a fully edited Lightroom catalogue back is a great feeling. Check out my review of the best photo editing service.

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  1. Pawan Yadav on October 25, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the tips to speedup lightoom.

  2. annette on August 25, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Really useful – thanks

  3. Ross on May 26, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Mark! This is awesome. While it obviously won’t let you delete the original file, is it safe to assume that you can flag the smart previews of the files you want to delete and then plug the external back in and have all those flags applied to the original files to then delete? Thanks, Mark!

    • Mark on May 26, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Hey Ross, yeah that’s exactly what I do – I wish it would sync and delete the raws when you delete the smart previews, but it doesn’t.

  4. […] Another limitation of Smart Previews is the inability to open them for edit in Photoshop, so again, you’ll need to reconnect the original RAW files to do this. If you’d like to watch a video of this tip in action, click here. […]

  5. Jonathan on March 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for this video!
    Though with smart previews, you can’t zoom in to the photo?
    Or did I do something wrong? haha

    • Mark on March 16, 2016 at 5:14 am

      You can, just not as far. Will depend on the size of your screen that you’re viewing the photo too.

  6. Chana Blumes on August 1, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I seriously can not believe how much time I saved and how quickly I was able to go through 9000+ photos!! :) Thanks!! Wish I knew about this sooner. Thank you so much for sharing this video!!


    • Mark on August 1, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Oh that’s awesome Chana! I’m so glad it helped you! Be sure to tell your friends :-)

  7. Chana on July 21, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Will the editing I do on the smart preview transfer perfectly to the raw image folder after switching it back?


    • Mark on July 21, 2015 at 5:48 am

      Hi Chana, yes it would!

  8. Mario Pinta on July 14, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Marc, is possible see in HD ?

    • Mark on July 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Sorry Mario but Australia’s upload speeds are so terrible that an HD video would have taken me days to upload. It’s ridiculous :-(

  9. Fred on June 6, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, I doesn’t work for me. Fuji RAW files are huge and very slow on LR 5 or CC, even with the “smart previews”.

  10. Aline on May 22, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Bonjour Mark,

    thank you for the tip and hat tip for recording this with your baby on your lap :-)
    Along with this nice Lightroom tip, it sends to me the same great type of message as this video of an Israeli professor holding the baby of one of his students while continuing his speech and which recently went viral. You can’t know how much it means for a woman. Merci!
    And looking forward to reading your always great articles.
    Cheers from Prague

    • Mark on May 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Bonjour Aline! haha thanks for saying that! I’ll have to check out that video but he sounds like a very skilled man ;-) Have fun in Prague – I went there once many years ago…

  11. Manuel Lopez on May 21, 2015 at 3:15 am

    Thanks for the informations.

    Shotkit is grown to my favorite photo-blog over the past months and i’m happy to see more stuff like this. :)

    Greets from Switzerland

    • Mark on May 21, 2015 at 7:12 am

      That’s great to hear Manuel, thank you! Btw I love your country – been skiing there many times :-)

      • Manuel Lopez on May 22, 2015 at 12:09 am

        The next time if you are in Switzerland it will be nice to meet you :)

  12. Garrett on May 21, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Interesting tip, Mark.
    Have you tested this against making full 1:1 Previews and turning up your Camera Raw Cache?
    Obviously it takes long as shit when importing, but I’m assuming it is pretty similar to the time it takes to make Smart Previews.

    • Mark on May 21, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Hey Garrett, I actually do this in conjunction with that, and find the tip makes things faster. It all depends on your hardware setup though I guess You probably know this but you can build those 1:1 previews after import if you want, but yeah either way, it’s a looong wait!

  13. John Bamber on May 21, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Thanks, Mark! I’m gonna try this!

    • Mark on May 21, 2015 at 7:15 am

      No problemo John! Let us know if it makes a difference :-)

  14. bob on May 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Too long, didn’t watch. Just give us the info, Mark.

    • Mark on May 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      …but you had time to leave me a rude comment, Bob. Thanks!

  15. Felipe Yang on May 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve found that disabling the GPU acceleration also does away with some of the lag I’ve experienced in Lightroom 6/CC. In the new version, when switching between images in the Develop Module, I would see the unedited image for a split second, then Lightroom would quickly apply the edits on to it. As soon as I disabled the GPU, it went back to showing the edited version instantly.

    • Mark on May 20, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hmm that’s interesting Felipe – I’ve noticed this too but didn’t attribute it to the GPU. Thanks for sharing!

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