In addition to optimizing the computer, you can optimize your Lightroom preferences and catalog settings for best performance.
Lightroom is usually updated every 2-4 months, and these updates frequently include performance improvements. It’s worth staying up to date.
The CC app regularly checks for updates. Open the CC app from the system tray (Windows) / menubar (Mac). Clicking the Update Available button takes you to the Updates tab.
Click the Update button to install the update.
If an update has been released, but the CC app hasn’t found it yet, you can check manually. Select the Updates tab, click the … button and select Check for Updates.
Occasionally, an update introduces new bugs that aren’t spotted before release, so it’s also worth knowing how to roll back, just in case you do run into problems. Alternatively, you can wait until the update has been available for a few days, in case any serious new bugs surface.
Delaying an upgrade can be a good idea if it’s a major update that requires a catalog upgrade (usually the October/November release). Keep an eye on our What’s New blog posts, as we update the release blog post with significant new bugs.
Optimize the Catalog
Over the course of time, the data in Lightroom’s catalog can become fragmented and spread across the whole database. This makes Lightroom jump around to find the information it needs. The File menu > Optimize Catalog command “tidies up” and sorts it all back into the right order, bringing it back up to speed.
It’s worth running the catalog optimization whenever you’ve made significant database changes, such as removing or importing a large number of photos. It’s also worth running if you feel that Lightroom has slowed down. To save you having to remember, there’s a checkbox in the Back Up Catalog dialog.
Use Graphics Processor pop-up
We’ve already mentioned the important of the GPU in previous posts. The related settings are found under Edit menu (Windows) / Lightroom menu (Mac) > Preferences > Performance tab. As a reminder, the default setting of Auto is a great choice for most systems. If you want to experiment with the Custom settings, there’s more detail in our previous blog post.
Auto-write XMP off
In the first post in our Lightroom Performance series, we said that all of the work you do in Lightroom is stored as text instructions in the Lightroom catalog. If you need to make the metadata available to other programs, you need to store it in/with the files using a metadata format called XMP. For example, some photographers also use XMP as an additional (but incomplete) backup of edits.
If you frequently edit your photos in other software such as Bridge, writing changes automatically saves you having to remember to do so. However, writing to XMP can have an impact on performance, especially if the photos are stored on a slower drive. To set your auto write preference, go to Edit menu (Windows) / Lightroom menu (Mac) > Catalog Settings > Metadata tab > Automatically write changes into XMP. If you choose to turn auto-write off, you can manually write to XMP at any time by selecting the photos in Grid view and selecting Metadata menu > Write Metadata to Files.
Render the Best Previews & Cache Settings for Your Needs
Finally, Lightroom uses a number of different types of previews and caches. It’s worth gaining a basic understanding so you can optimize the settings for your own workflow. We’ll discuss this in the next post in the series.
For extensive information on Lightroom Classic, see Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ.
If you have the Photography Plan, then as well as Classic you have access to the Lightroom cloud ecosystem including the mobile apps and web interface. For more information on these apps, see Adobe Lightroom – Edit Like a Pro.
Note: purchase of these books includes the first year’s Classic or cloud-based Premium Membership (depending on the book purchased), giving access to download the latest eBook (each time Adobe updates the software), email assistance for the applicable Lightroom version if you hit a problem, and other bonuses.
We also have a special bundle offer for the two books. This includes Premium Membership for the first year as described above for the whole Lightroom family!
Originally posted 3 October 2016, updated May 2021.