7 Ways to Speed up Lightroom Classic

By Rebecca Bradley

7 Ways to Speed up Lightroom Classic

Editing in Lightroom is such a huge and essential part of our workflow as photographers. When a key part of your workflow is slow, not only is it incredibly frustrating, it also costs you a lot of time and money. The good news is that there are some optimisations you can do to speed up Lightroom Classic and hopefully relieve some frustration too. 

1. Use a fast hard drive 

You can make all the optimizations in the world, but if your hard drive is slow, no matter what you do, your Lightroom will still be slow. It’s important that you have a fast connection if you want to speed up lightroom classic . It’s recommended to use an SSD over an HD as your working drive. To put it simply, SSD’s are much faster to work from as they have much faster transfer speeds in their retrieval process, meaning there will be less delay when navigating between images.

2. Make sure you have enough free space

When you don’t have enough free space on your working drive, it can cause poor Lightroom performance. To avoid this, ensure you have at least 20% free space on the drive that stores your catalog, previews, and image files.

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3. Use a culling tool before you add your images to Lightroom

Lightroom is notoriously slow at navigating between images as it takes several seconds to completely load your image. When you're culling, you want to be able to navigate through 1000s of images at lightning speed. 

Before you add your images to Lightroom you should cull them with a lightning-fast, purpose-built, culling tool like Narrative Select. Reducing the number of images in Lightroom will save you from having to sort through unwanted images during the editing process, and in turn will speed up Lightroom Classic.

Narrative Select is lightning-fast, meaning there is no load time as you switch between images. It’s also smart. It groups scenes of images together, allowing you to quickly navigate through your shoot. You can choose to view your images in chronological order or assessment rank (meaning you will see the worst images last!). Beyond this, Select has a handful of other features that make culling faster. The eye and focus assessments allow you to quickly identify if your subjects are in or out of focus and if their eyes are open or closed. This means no more wasted timeon second guessing! Image assessments allow you to quickly identify the worst images from your shoot and then hide them, meaning you are viewing 20-30% less images per shoot.

Finally, Narrative Select is optimized to work with Lightroom, so it will fit right into your workflow. So when you have finished choosing your best images, just push the 'Ship' button and your color or star-rated images will automatically move from Select into Lightroom with just one click.

Download and try Narrative Select for free here.

4. Build Smart Previews on import 

Building Smart Previews on import allows for a much smoother experience while editing as they are MUCH smaller than the original Raw files.

When you import your images into Lightroom, select ‘Build Smart Previews’ (in the top right hand corner of the ‘File Handling’ dialog).

4. Clean out your presets

If you have had Lightroom for years, it’s likely that you have built up a solid collection of presets. When you have too many presets, it can slow Lightroom down as the Develop module generates thumbnails in the Navigator panel for every preset. If this  applies to you, it may be time for a spring clean and you should only keep the ones you use every time you edit. 

5. Open Lightroom in Low Resolution

A handy little tip to improve Lightroom performance is to open it up in Low Resolution. All this means is that Lightroom's graphics and fonts will be displayed in Low Resolution. You  will hardly notice the difference, but doing this can speed up Lightroom.

To open Lightroom in Low Resolution, go to your Applications folder and open up the Lightroom folder. Right click on the ‘Adobe Lightroom’ icon and click ‘Get Info.’ You can then tick the ‘Open in Low Resolution box within the General tab.

6. Choose the order of your edits wisely 

Lightroom has some powerful features, but when they are used in the wrong order they can negatively impact Lightroom's speed. 

To maximize Lightroom performance, you should try to stick to a certain order when processing your images: 

  1. Spot healing
  2. Lens correction
  3. Transformations
  4. Global Adjustments
  5. Local adjustments
  6. Sharpening
  7. Noise reduction

You obviously don’t have to stick to this exact order, but this is what Adobe has outlined for optimal performance. 

Bonus tip: Don’t do any sharpening or noise reduction until you're about to export your images. You can use a very handy tool called an ISO adaptive preset and sync it across all your images at the end. This will ensure your noise reduction is accurate and on point across all of your images based on their individual ISO. Get a free preset for this here.

7. Pause Address and Face Lookup

Lightroom allows you to display the address of the images you shot and also has the ability to search for faces. The address feature can be helpful for travel photos or when you’re going back through older photos, but these options running in the background slow Lightroom down. 

You can turn these features off by clicking on the arrow beside your name in the upper left corner on the Lightroom window and then choose ‘Pause’ next to the relevant feature. 

8. Optimize your catalog 


The last tip is a pretty simple one and a nice quick win to improve performance. Go to ‘File’ in Lightroom and click on ‘Optimize Catalog’. Not only is this a way to speed up the software, but it’s also a great way to solve common Lightroom issues. 

We hope these tips are helpful in speeding up Lightroom Classic!