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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Previous comments
Gregory Mills's picture

I will give that a try. Thanks!

Richard Williamson's picture

The way to speed up Light Room is to uninstall it and install Capture One. After years of fighting with Light Room and not having the time to actually learn something else I finally made the change this year. What a breath of fresh air, I have freed a lot of time up to do other things than sit and watch a computer get hot and run its fan at full blast and throttle its self and then get even slower.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Yes, this! I am happy to read your message. I think I will do this soon. I just don't have much time to learn C1, but I think I just have to do it...

Will Thomas's picture

Every time Lightroom updates I hope that it will speed up, each time it seems to get a little slower. Maybe I need to upgrade my CPU and add some more ram.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Don't waste your money on this. I upgraded last year to a 6-core desktop CPU, 32 GB of RAM, a GTX 1060 GPU and a fast Samsung Pro SSD, LRC still takes many seconds to export just one 20 MP RAW to Jpeg. Dust removal? After the 2nd spot, forget about it, the screen jumps everywhere in an uncontrollable way.

For now, it's still "faster" than the learning curve for something else, but one of those days, I'll just take a week off to set up another programme and goodbye Adobe for good (I already did that with Premiere that I ditched for Resolve and haven't looked back every since).

Marek Stefech's picture

Lightroom is still way too slow if i compare that with combination Photoshop + ExifPro 2.1.0 which is free software from 2013 lol

Ryan Cooper's picture

My solution worked extremely well. I finally hit my frustration limit with Lr. I was loading image files stored on an M.2 PCIE SSD and yet it was still painfully slow. My solution was flawless and easy:

1. Login to creative.adobe.com
2. Go to billing.
3. Hit "cancel subscription"

;) Instantly, no more Lr speed issues! ;) Like magic! for real though, I switched over the C1 Pro and while it isn't perfect by a long shot, it is radically faster at doing everything than Lr is. My biggest challenge is a lack of Photoshop alternative. I have been using Affinity Photo, but it has tons of performance issues just like PS.

Edit: I am not on a trivial machine, I'm rocking a liquid-cooled i7 9700k, 32gb of ram, and a GeForce 2070 RTX, OS/Apps stored on an M.2 SSD, images stored on another. Not the elite cutting edge of performance potential but also not a slouch. It should be able to edit 24mp raw files trivially.

RT Simon's picture

The obvious recommendation is that SSD drives are essential.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Yep... I expect that enthusiasts have them for last 10 years and all the rest dealing with images - for last 5.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Worthless clickbait article. If those things worked, I wouldn't be complaining about LR every chance I have. This software is a piece of shit and I have a feeling that while developping their tablet versions, Adobe completely gave up on LRC.

Christoph .'s picture

I finally have LR develop module at a somewhat acceptable speed, but the absolute killer for me is the export/render speed. Glacial.

C1 takes advantage of the GPU and exports take a fraction of the time. Real shame Adobe hasn't fixed that part of LR as I still need it for timelapses

Rayann Elzein's picture

Lucky you. Despite (much) above average specs, my develop module is so slow that sometimes I give up editing and go do something else. But yeah, haters will probably say it's me the problem, but no, tried on several machines, catalog's not too big, etc... LR does not work as it should, period.

I just hate that C1 offers a cheap Nikon only or Sony only version, but Canon shooters have to pay the full bloody 350 euros price for the license. A bit steep if you ask me... That's 3 years of Adobe subscription not even counting the version upgrades that aren't free with C1.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

If you keep a look out, there's usually 30% to 55% discounts. Early last year, they had 50%. 30% during Black Friday sales and I think it carried on for a couple of months. And, about a month ago, 55%. I picked up the Sony version for $58.

Rayann Elzein's picture

I noticed that the past couple of years, and usually the discount comes before the release of a new version, no? With 50% discount, it's a no brainer and I would definitely buy it. But not for 350 euros/USD... and then every year another 150 to upgrade. Sadly there's no Canon only version that would make even a non-discounted price acceptable to me.

Rayann Elzein's picture

No to be fair, it's 350 for the first purchase, and then something lower (but they don't let you see unless you already own the software). A quick google search shows me people have paid 150 or 159... which is more than what LR costs in a year. So as much as I hate Adobe and LR in particular, I also look at my bank account.

I don't know, maybe it's just me and the 3-4 different machines I tried LR on. But it's painfully slow just from the moment you open it. Even with 1:1 previews built, there's a significant lag when going from a picture to the next. Spot removal is a pain in the butt. But yeah, I guess that because Adobe warns us that their software is not made for spot removal, I shouldn't complain... Then remove the f.... function if it's not made for it!

Jay Huron's picture

Make sure your "Metadata" section/panel is closed, especially if you're selecting more than one image. It really slows things down if it has to pull varying metadata from multiple images.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Why from multiple when it pulls from the active one only?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Summary: More memory, large cache, use SSD.