Photoshop & Lightroom Maintenance

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Photoshop & Lightroom Maintenance |

Lightroom and Photoshop are integral to a photographer’s workflow. When they're running slow, crashing or simply lagging, it can slow you down. These simple tips will help you speed up your software. Keep in mind that the overall performance of your software is dependant on the performance of your computer as a whole. At the end of this article are some general things that you can do with your computer that will increase its performance.

Click to enlarge


Open Preferences (Mac: Lightroom > Preferences | Windows: Edit > Preferences). Open the General tab and click the Go to Catalog Settings button in the bottom right. Head to the File Handling tab and change these settings:

Standard Preview Size:          2048px
Preview Quality:                     Low
Auto Delete Previews:           After One Week

Click to enlarge

You can then close that window and open Preferences back up. Head to the File Handling tab and down the bottom you’ll see Camera Raw Cache Settings and Video Cache Settings. Click both Purge Cache buttons then set the Maximum Size to 80GB. Please note that this will [eventually] take up that amount of space on your hard drive, so if you have a smaller hard drive set it to anywhere between 20GB and 60GB.

Head to the Performance tab and check the Use Graphics Processor option if it’s available. Please note that turning this option on may slow Lightroom down if your GPU isn’t powerful enough. If after turning this on, Lightroom seems to be sluggish, turn it back off.

Turn on Use Smart Previews under the Develop section. This will use the Smart Previews when you’re processing instead of the full resolution files. This will speed up your workflow. Don’t worry, when you export your final images, the quality won't be affected.

You’ll now want to optimise your Catalog. This will start a bunch of processes that’ll speed up the performance of your Catalog. Do this step for every Lightroom Catalog you have. To do this simply go to File > Optimise Catalog.

Once you’ve done all this, close Lightroom, restart your computer and you’ll be good to go. At the end of this post will be some tips to increasing performance for your computer, as it may be your computer running slow, rather than Lightroom itself.


Open Preferences (Mac: Photoshop > Preferences | Windows: Edit > Preferences). Open the File Handling tab (FIGURE 1) and click the Camera RAW Preferences button. Just like you did in Lightroom, you’ll want to purge the Cache. You’ve already done this in Lightroom, but there’s no harm in doing it in Photoshop as well (Photoshop and Lightroom use the same Camera RAW Cache). If it isn’t already, set the Maximum Cache size to 80GB, or whatever you set it to in Lightroom. Make sure Use Graphics Processor down the bottom of the window is ticked, then you can click OK.

Now open the Performance tab (FIGURE 2). Allow Photoshop to use 75% of your RAM. If you have 16BG, it’ll use about 11GB. If you have less than 8GB of RAM, there’s nothing you’ll be able to do to increase the performance of Photoshop without adding more RAM… Sorry.

Set your History States to 1000 (this will simply let you Undo mistakes until your heart is content), Cache Levels to 8 and Cache Tile Size to 1028. If Photoshop performs badly after making these changes, just lower them to the next option down until Photoshop works the way you want to. Typically, if you have a decent machine, you can turn everything to its maximum then work out what settings need to be lowered. This allows you to get the most performance out of your software.

Turn Use Graphics Processor on and click Advanced Settings. In here, turn on everything that’s available and set the Drawing Mode to Advanced.

After you’ve made these changes, close out of Photoshop, restart your computer and you’re good to go.

FIGURE 1: Click to enlarge

FIGURE 2: Click to enlarge

General Computer Performance

If after you’ve made these changes, you still find that Lightroom and Photoshop are running slow, it may in fact be your computer limiting performance. Lightroom and Photoshop need a minimum of 8GB of RAM to truly run properly. If you have less than this, look in to upgrading some. You can Join our Facebook Group for help.

For best performance, your computer should be running off an SSD (Solid State Drive). This is a hard drive without the spinning disks, instead it uses microchips to store your data. They are super-fast. After installing an SSD into your computer, it will feel as though it’s a new machine. Again, you can join our Facebook group for further information on this.

And finally, if you have a Mac, follow the article below, it’s all about general maintenance for your Mac, clearing up the clutter and making it run faster.


I hope this article has been an interesting and informing read. If you have any questions or comments to make, comment below. Also, if you’d like to receive an email every time I publish a new post, you can subscribe to my mailing list below.

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