How to Speed Up Lightroom Loading Times

How to speed up lightroom loading times in develop module.

I have to admit it took me a few years to finally move over to Lightroom for my editing. Prior to Lightroom I had used Adobe Bridge and although it didn’t have all of the tools Lightroom had it was much faster. There have been improvements over the years every time Adobe releases a new update and with some tips you can speed up how quick Lightroom loads your photos in the develop module. Since I mainly shoot weddings and have to process thousands of images a week speed is key for me. Here are a few tips on how to speed up Lightroom.

First off lets start with why things render at different speeds in the Library and Develop modules. In the Library module you are only seeing previews that are showing up from your preview cache, since these are small files generally they load up and show very quick. In the develop module though Lightroom will first show the preview but then you will see the dreaded “Loading” icon come up while it reads the full RAW image and sets the sliders so you can start editing. Depending on how you set things up this can take a second or two which can be frustrating while going through thousands of images.

So how to speed that process up? Before we get into that a few quick things to note. While the “Loading” overlay is showing you can begin work on the image. Also if you find this overlay message distracting, you can turn it off by going to the Library Module and then going to View –> View Options –> Loupe View –> ‘Show message when loading or rendering photos’.

The first step of speeding up how Lightroom views images from your Develop module is to set the previews that you import to Standard size. This does take more time then while Lightroom is importing your photos so you have to take that into consideration. What I generally do is load up a shoot in Lightroom at the very end of the day or before I have to do something else and just let it run. If you already have imported your images and want to re-render the previews that can be done by going back to the Library Module and going to Library –> Previews –> Render Standard-Sized Previews. This might take a little bit of time to process but by the time it’s done the Develop module should be processing your images much faster.

Another thing that can help to speed up Lightroom is the Camera Raw cache. By default the Camera Raw cache is only 1gb in size. With only 1gb of space you can fill that up very quickly and then aren’t seeing the full benefit of having the cache. This can be changed to an amount up to 50GB. Just go to Lightroom’s Preferences dialog and click on the File Handling tab. The bigger the cache the better so if you have 50GB of space then I would use all of that. You can also change the location and with the speed of SSD drives now it might be a good decision to use a SSD drive. I haven’t made the conversion to SSD other than my main drive for apps but will be changing my working Lightroom drive over shortly and report on the difference. If you don’t want to go SSD make sure you have a 7200 rpm drive which should be pretty fast.

speed up lightroom develop

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Author: Mark Stagi

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m getting more and more frustrated with Lightroom4. It is way too slow now, and I’m using an i7 2GHZ MBP with 16GB RAM and 2x SSD drives. I need to sort 500 RAW images fast but have all but given up.

    I’m now using Photo Mechanic and Photoshop PM is lightning fast. Adobe needs to understand this problem

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