How to Speed Up Slow Lightroom

By Maddy Budd

Why your Lightroom Classic is running slow and tips on how to speed it up

Photographers should always be looking for ways to save time and make their workflow more efficient. While Lightroom is a necessary part of every photographer’s workflow, we have all been frustrated at times when the program runs slowly and takes forever to do things like load images. There are ways of improving this part of your post-production and so we’ve pulled together some helpful tips that will help you speed up Lightroom Classic, save time and hopefully relieve some frustration too.

Why is Lightroom slow?

Before we get started we think it is important to know why Lightroom is slow in the first place. 

Lightroom performs two functions, photo management and photo editing. Doing both of these things requires a powerful computer and the moving around of a lot of data on your hard drive, memory and processor.

Another reason things can run slowly is Lightroom is a non-destructive editor. This means you can undo every edit you make and your file remains saved in its original form. While this is an important feature it also means the more you edit the slower Lightroom gets.

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

Lightroom will never be a great tool to use when you are culling large amounts of images.

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 having to sort through unwanted images during the editing process and it also won’t slow down Lightroom with unnecessary images.

Narrative Select is lightning-fast meaning there is no load time as you flick between images. AI-powered warning indicators show you when faces are out of focus or blinking. It also automatically detects faces, so you can quickly zoom your subjects' faces by tapping the spacebar on your keyboard. The handy face panel feature shows you closeup crops of all faces in your photo at once saving you time because you don't have to zoom into each individual face. All of these AI-powered features are designed to speed up your culling process.

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

Download and try Narrative Select for free here.

Cull your photoshoot twice as fast

Get Narrative Select Free on macOS & Windows. No credit card required.

2. Update to the most recent version of Lightroom

This seems like a simple one, but you’d be surprised how often people ignore software updates, and how big of an improvement having the latest version of Lightroom can make on your experience while using it. 

In Lightroom, choose Help > Check For Updates

3. Build Smart Previews when you import

Smart Previews are smaller versions of your photos. If you set up your Lightroom to work from Smart Previews rather than your full-sized raw images you will find things go a lot faster.

Do this when you import your images:

Select your files > click Library > Previews > Build Smart Previews

4. Pause ‘Sync With Lightroom’ while making edits in Lightroom Classic

Syncing images uses CPU and other system resources to create previews and upload/download images from Creative Cloud. You should pause ‘Sync with Lightroom’ while you import and edit your images on your desktop computer. Then you can turn it back on and let the application sync overnight.

Click the cloud icon on the top right of the screen > Pause Syncing

5. Optimize the catalog

This is a feature Lightroom has included that will help speed things up if it is running slower than usual. Note: Lightroom will close while it optimizes your catalog.

File > Optimize Catalog

6. Pause Address and Face Look Up

These are functions that will run in the background and slow down Lightroom. So if you aren’t using them, switch them off. 

Click your name to open a drop-down menu > pause the features by clicking on it

These are just a few of the things you can do to speed up Lightroom. For more in-depth tips including how to optimize your hardware for Lightroom Classic and tips for System Maintenance see the Adobe Lightroom blog on optimising performance.

Special thanks to Sam Hurd for your tips in our Narrative Photography Community