This past week I have participated in several forums and speed issues with Adobe Lightroom was a hot topic. It seems many are finding Lightroom to be very slow which I found rather curious since I have had the opposite experience. So for this weeks blog post I thought I’d offer up a few insider tricks that will help speed up Lightroom.
1. Hard Drive and Scratch Disk Space
First off, check to see that you have at least 50% of your hard drive space on your computer available. If you are working with a hard drive that is more than 75% full (i.e. you only have 25-25% of your hard drive memory left) that can slow down all applications and especially Lightroom. And of course a fast computer is also a major factor, but Lightroom will work on any computer with Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Also, increasing the amount of RAM on your computer will greatly help out as well.
2. Render 1:1 Previews After Import
Make sure that you render the 1:1 previews after importing images into Lightroom. It doesn’t happen automatically and this will greatly speed up everything in Lightroom. This is a little known key point to a fast workflow in Lightroom and I suspect the major cause of many folks finding Lightroom slow.
To render the 1:1 previews first select all of the images in the folder, then go to Library > Previews > Render 1:1 Previews. Of course you should also check the Render Standard-Sized Previews in the import box so that those are created as you import images.
3. Set Your Preferences
In the preferences panel (Lightroom > Preferences), under File Management, you can adjust what size standard previews Lightroom builds from 1,024 pixels to 2,048 pixels depending on your monitor size. You can also adjust the Preview Quality (High, Medium and Low).
By adjusting these toggle boxes you can optimize Lightroom for your computer and monitor. As you can see below, I have Lightroom set to create 2,048 pixels for my large Apple Cinema Display and I’ve also set the Preview Quality to high so that I can see the best quality preview as I edit images. Since I have my preferences set to the higher settings it slows Lightroom down just a little, but with 4.5 GB of RAM in my Apple G5 it is a small difference and I prefer the higher quality previews.
4. Optimizing the Lightroom Cache
If you have your Lightroom cache on an external hard drive (USB or Firewire) this can massively slow down everything in Lightroom as it is limited by the connection speed of the hard drive. I would suggest putting the cache on a faster drive with a SATA connection if need be or better yet leave it on the computers internal drive.
5. Embed Metadata and Keywords on Import
In my workflow, I have found that Lightroom works very well with Metadata and Keywording but if you need to alter large groups of images the software can drag a bit as you try to type into the metadata fields. The fastest method I have found for importing metadata and keywords is to do it as you import the images.
In the import dialog box there is a field for typing in keywords and the toggle just above allows you to create custom metadata templates. I have several metadata templates I use. If all of the images are of the same person, scene, location and sport then I create a custom metadata template with all of the metadata in it so once the images are imported the metadata and keywording is finished. If I am importing a group of images with different people, locations or sports then I will just use my basic copyright template during import - along with generic keywords. Once the images are imported I’ll select groups of similars and type in the metadata for each group.
If you don’t render the standard-sized or 1:1 previews then Lightroom is constantly trying to build them as you edit your images resulting in very slow performance. And if your Lightroom cache is on an external USB (1.0 or 2.0) or Firewire hard drive this to will handcuff Lightroom - just as working with an internal drive that is almost full will. Adapt these tips to your Lightroom workflow and you will be amazed at how efficient and fast Lightroom can be. And if that isn’t enough, buy yourself a serious amount of RAM and then Lightroom with really start to motor. I recently worked on a friends brand new Apple MacPro with 9 GB of RAM and Lightroom never hesitated for anything. Even exporting 100 images took very little time.
That’s it for this Monday. I look forward to hearing your comments…
Adios, Michael Clark