Dramatically Speed up Lightroom Performance

Dramatically Speed up Lightroom Performance

If your copy of Lightroom Classic has been painfully slow, or you're having trouble with images and adjustments loading in the Develop module it could be down to a few crucial settings. Tweak these and you could dramatically improve the speed of Lightroom, and your workflow.

For the past year I've been scanning forums and watching YouTube videos trying to get Lightroom Classic running faster, and more efficiently, and until now I've struggled to edit high resolution images above 24MP. Images take ages to load, and running an adjustment brush across the photos nearly slows the software down to a halt. For a split second I thought I needed a faster computer, but my laptop (the Dell XPS 15 9570) is pretty damn powerful and should handle a few image files easily.

But now I've found some key settings that's sped up Lightroom and makes it so much easier to edit my high res shots. So, follow the steps below if you're having a similar problem.

Increase Cache Size

This setting made the most noticeable difference for me. By default Lightroom Classic's cache size is set to 1GB, according to Adobe, but they suggest to increase this to 20GB or more. To do this go to:

  • Lightroom > Preferences (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences (Windows)
  • Then click the File Handling tab.
  • In the Camera Raw Cache Settings area, experiment with a Maximum Size of 10.0 GB or more.
Lightroom cache increase screenshot

Increase the cache size above Lightroom Classic's standard 1GB default can make big improvements to image loading and editing in the Develop module

Make Sure Cache is Stored on a Fast Storage Medium

Change where Lightroom cache is stored on your computer and look for the fastest storage device. The speed of a device is limited by its ability to recall information. In most laptops that means either a hard disk, or a solid state drive. A hard disk is the old stack of metal plates that physically spin around like a record, with a reading arm to match. HDDs spin at varying rates, with some at around 5000RPM and others at 10,000 RPM. The faster the better for data recall, so it might be worth changing the cache location to your fastest hard disk drive in Lightroom.

However, a solid state drive (SSD) doesn't have moving parts, so it is explosively fast. If you can, run your software from an SSD for faster boot times, and a much faster Lightroom experience. Most new computers and laptops have SSDs built in, and all smart devices (tablets and smartphones) run on solid state storage anyway. To change where the cache is stored follow these steps:

  • Click on Lightroom > Preferences (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences (Windows)
  • Click the File Handling tab
  • In the Camera Raw Cache Settings area, click Choose and navigate to the location where you want to store the cache

Look Through Adobe's Checklist

There are many other reasons why your Lightroom Classic might be running slow. For me, the above settings changes were enough for the software to go into hyperdrive, but we're not all working with the same specs or settings. For example, you may need to adjust the RAM size in Photoshop if using the two simultaneously, or you might need to clear the history panel if making multiple corrections to an image. You may simply need to update to the latest Operating System, or update Lightroom itself. 

Adobe Lightroom Classic optimizing advice screenshot

Adobe has put together a great page on optimizing performance of Lightroom Classic which was last updated in November 2019 (at time of writing)

Adobe has put a fantastic page together on optimizing Lightroom Classic so follow more of their advice to see if you can make things faster. If you're having any specific problems, post in the comments section down below to see if I or the Fstoppers community can reach out with a fix.

Main image by Pixabay creative commons via Pexels

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Alexander Petrenko's picture

Summary: More memory, large cache, use SSD.