Tips + Tricks

Using Lightroom Smart Previews to Improve My Editing Workflow

Using Lightroom Smart Previews to Improve My Editing Workflow

First thing’s first: always import your photos onto an external hard drive (and not directly from your SD card into Lightroom)

If you don’t already – you should start off your editing process by ALWAYS importing your photos onto an external hard drive. That way your computer storage doesn’t fill up and you’ll be able to use multiple hard drives as back ups.

If you import your photos directly to your hard drive (rather than from your SD card), you’ll eliminate Lightroom from eating up your computer’s storage. When you import directly from an SD card to Lightroom, Lightroom will (by default) copy your photos from your SD card directly into a new folder in your computer’s library. Talk about eating up your storage REAL QUICK.

Plus, if you keep your raws on another device, you’ll allow your computer to run faster and therefore, you’ll edit much much MUCH faster.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about backing up your photos to a hard drive, here are some cost friendly hard drives you can buy.

How to Use Smart Previews

Smart previews have absolutely saved my life (and the storage on my MacBook). Read on to learn about my super secret technique!

Thousands are asking: What are smart previews? Smart previews are smaller versions of the original photos you’ve uploaded to Lightroom.

Why are smart previews helpful? Smart previews allow you to continue to edit photos without connecting the device that contains your original photographs.

Here’s how to create smart preview in Lightroom:

  1. Select all of the photos. you’d like to generate previews for: typically, I’ll generate previews for all of my culled and flagged images.
  2. Click > Library > Previews > Build Smart Previews

This may take anywhere from 1 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how many photos you’re generating, so pour yourself a cup of coffee & get comfy while you wait.

After some time, then you’ll have smart previews! Now, you won’t have to edit with that annoying hard drive connected to your computer 24/7. And, you’ll load RAW images a million times faster than before.

*side note: when you’re finished editing, make sure you plug in your external hard drive to export. Otherwise, you’ll export the small versions of your photos which will NOT be high quality.

Benefits of Using Smart Previews

  1. You don’t have to keep an external hard drive plugged into your computer in order to edit. This is one of the biggest hassles when I’m editing – I HATE having to unzip my hard drive case, finding a good spot to keep my hard drive while I edit, etc. Smart previews have saved me from this!
  2. Smart previews speed up the editing process by A LOT. The amount of time Lightroom takes to load RAW images is quite long – but when you generate Smart Previews, Lightroom loads images almost instantly so you can get right to the editing.
  3. You’ll always have a Lightroom catalog with pre-generated previews of your photos. No more searching through your RAWs in order to find the photo you’re looking for. Smart previews let you keep a catalog & open them at any time to find a photo. This helps eliminate having to plug in your hard drive to search through your archives.

Have more questions about smart previews? Check out Adobe’s article on smart previews!

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