Is your Lightroom Classic CC running slow? Here's how to fix it
Incredibly Slow Lightroom Classic CC Load Times
Lately I noticed that my Adobe Lightroom Classic CC was running slow. It was lagging a lot more than it ever had been. One simple brush stroke during dodging and burning would lag up to 20 seconds. Sliders would not update my photo as I moved them to adjust camera calibration, and toggling between full screen and the develop module would take a full minute to load. Ultimately the time kept adding up until I finally hit my breaking point and forced myself into a 2 month editing hiatus. I needed some time to pick myself out of the weeds and get back to what I loved doing– shooting.
It wasn't long ago that I felt the urge to jump back into my Lightroom workflow, but first I had some performance issues to address. Lightroom is an incredibly resource intensive program. Before I launch the program I normally restart my computer and make sure it's the only main application running to avoid wasting computer resources. I primarily edit on my 2015 Macbook Pro running macOS Sierra version 10.12.6. It has a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 and at the time of purchase I made sure to max out my RAM to 16GB. Believe me when I say that this computer has been an absolute beast since purchased. That led me to believe that it wasn't my tech that was slowing me down, but my Adobe settings.
While there are many articles online that discuss how to boost performance in Lightroom, these were a couple of easy tips that I successfully implemented to quickly optimize my Lightroom's performance:
Tips and Tricks
1. Make your Camera RAW Cache Bigger
Lightroom caches image data in 2 places; The Preview Cache stored with your catalog for library view and the Camera RAW cache. When you activate the Develop module, Lightroom loads the data into the Camera RAW cache. My default size was set to 2GB, but the Camera RAW Cache sits on my internal operating SSD where I have more than 150GB of free space. I changed the size of this Camera RAW Cache to 40GB and noticed immediate performance improvements with Lightroom.
Preferences -> Performance -> Camera RAW Cache Settings
2. Disable Address and Face Lookup
While these features may seem innovative and important in certain circumstances, they add no value to my workflow. Leaving these processes running in the background will inevitably slow Lightroom performance down. Disabling them is easy and can be found by clicking your information towards the top left of Lightroom.
3. Manually Optimize Catalogue Upon Shutdown
I try to stay diligent with this tip. At least once a month when I close Lightroom I choose to optimize and back up my entire catalogue. This seems simple but it will keep your Lightroom catalogue healthy and efficient. As an additional measure it safeguards you from unnecessary rework if your current LR catalogue gets corrupted. You can also optimize the catalogue without backing up in the Performance menu in the Settings underneath the Camera RAW Cache Settings.
4. Alter Standard Preview Size
Every thumbnail you see in Lightroom utilizes standard previews. When the resolution of all the Standard Previews higher than what your screens are capable of displaying, you unnecessarily spend computational resources to process the views without your hardware being able to display them. I mostly edit on an HP 27" xw IPS monitor. It was the perfect photo editing monitor at it's price point (I'm a bargain hunter). The screen resolution is only 1920x1080. In fact, my retina display 13.3" has a higher screen resolution of 2560x1600.
In most cases, on a 17" monitor at 1280x1080 or smaller, you can usually get away with 1024 pixels as the Standard Preview size. In my case, I have chosen to use 1440 pixels as my Standard Preview Size with Medium Preview Quality. To access this panel, click on Catalogue Settings -> File Handling
5. Data Management
This step is still one of my many deferred chores. I picked up my first SLR in 2013 and since then I have accumulated nearly 42,500 images across 3 cameras in my Lightroom Catalogue. While I prefer an organized folder tree structure for my photos, I didn't realize that every photo I added to my Lightroom catalogue inherently affected the performance. I'm a neat freak, every trip is in it's own folder, every file has it's own trip naming convention marked with date and sequence number. I hate losing files.
Two pieces of advice for data management that I will start implementing when I get more free time:
Small Catalogue Sizes
At the very least, make a new Lightroom Catalogue each year. This is the easiest way to keep your files organized and ensure you do not lose track of important photos. A best practice is to keep your Lightroom libraries below 10,000 images. I have broken this rule and plan to implement this method starting January 1, 2019.
Clean Your Hard Drives
Make sure your operating system hard drive and external hard drive both have at least 25% available storage on them at all times. These drives slow down significantly as they approach capacity.
There are many actions that can speed up Lightroom. Following a week of desk-research and troubleshooting, I only tested and commented on Lightroom-specific quick fixes. I have chosen to exclude technical specs about the Computer itself.
Your computer's technical specs should still be on the radar, like using 12GB or more of RAM, utilizing the speed of SSD drives, and running disk defrag on your hard drives (Windows).
I hope this information proves to be helpful and feel free to comment your own tips in the section below!
Author Mike Lindle (@MikeLindle) is a founder of Focal Collective. His goal is to teach our community members about workflow, editing, and professional techniques to deliver quality work and get the job done. He lives in Denver, CO but spends most of his working hours exploring California and beyond.