Tips for Getting Maximum Performance Out of Adobe Lightroom


Is your Adobe Lightroom running slowly on your computer? Adobe regularly receives questions through social media regarding sluggish photo editing, and recently decided to start compiling the non-traditional solutions that work onto a single helpful page. In the Lightroom Help section of the Adobe website, there’s now a page titled “Performance hints“.

Here’s a sampling of some of the tips and tricks on the page:

If you use Photoshop with Lightroom, check Photoshop’s RAM setting

See the Max Out on RAM and Memory Usage sections in this TechNote to determine the best RAM settings for your computer. To change your memory settings in Photoshop, choose Apple > Preferences > Performance (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences > Performance (Windows).

High-resolution displays

Drawing to the screen can be slow when Lightroom is using the entire screen of a high-resolution display. A high-resolution display has a native resolution near 2560 x 1600, and is found on 30-inch monitors and Retina MacBooks. To increase performance on such displays, reduce the size of the Lightroom window, or use the 1:2 or 1:3 views in the Navigator panel.

Order of Develop operations
The best order of Develop operations to increase performance is as follows:

  1. Spot healing.
  2. Geometry corrections, such as Lens Correction profiles and Manual corrections, including keystone corrections using the Vertical slider.
  3. Global non-detail corrections, such as Exposure and White Balance. These corrections can also be done first if desired.
  4. Local corrections, such as Gradient Filter and Adjustment Brush strokes.
  5. Detail corrections, such as Noise Reduction and Sharpening.

Avoid corrections that you don’t need

This suggestion applies especially to local corrections. Each slider you’ve changed when applying local corrections or the gradient filter is applied to that entire correction. And, each option uses resources and can affect performance.

When applying local corrections and gradients, make sure that you need all the corrections you’ve selected.

If you do not need a brush stroke or gradient to perform a certain type of correction, set its slider to zero.

Also avoid using unnecessary global corrections, especially options that use resources, such as Noise Reduction, Sharpening, and Lens Corrections.

Some sliders default to a value that turns them on by default. For the more resource-intensive options, zero does disable the slider.

Zoom options

If the Fit and Fill zoom options are slow, try using the 1:2, 1:3, or 1:4 options in the Navigator panel.

The page states that solutions will be added to the guide as new ones are found or as old ones become outdated. For more “traditional” tips and tricks on optimizing the performance of Lightroom, check out this page.

Lightroom Help: Performance hints [Adobe via John Nack]

Image credit: Speed by amalakar

  • Melo

    Here’s a hint… How about you put out a version that isn’t slow on a $5000 computer. I paid good money for the best computer and your latest software to NOT have to workaround something as trivial as removing lint and enhancing a photo.

    Photoshop itself breezes through retouching tasks on PSD files 10x the size of one RAW file. How about Adobe stops with the planned obsolescence and puts out a Lightroom that utilizes current hardware better.

    F’in ridiculous.

  • Danielle Skodak

    I too shelled out the money for excellent hardware, and I shelled the money out for Adobe’s products. How about a retail valued $3000+ product (the master suite) works at that level and I use it without having to fiddle with it extensively?

  • difficulty

    I’m generally satisfied with the speed of Lightroom, with one exception. The task of drawing a crop box is unacceptably slow and laggy. It’s simply unresponsive. The problem goes away if I reduce the size of the LR window (as suggested above).

    Problem is, I want to edit my images in a larger window. My monitor is 1920×1080 (not even retina resolution).

    I’ve got an i7 2700k processor and 16 gigs of fast ram. One weak link maybe my video card (Nvidia 460 GTX).

    If it would help, I’d buy a better video card in a second, but I’ve read that video cards are not a big factor for that sort of task.

    Any ideas?

  • Thomas Hawk

    I got a new Mac Book Pro with 16GB RAM and 750GB flash memory. Problem solved.

  • GreyStation

    I have it sincd last 1.5 years…and it will not solve the problem. sometimes SSDs are just too fast and they freakin overclock your CPU and it all shuts down. Sometimes… not everytime.. but still LR remains slow.. even with the SSD.

  • Thomas Hawk

    my Lightroom is blistering fast, new 2013 15 inch MBP 16GB RAM and 750 flash. The only thing slowing my production down now is me.

    The new MBP’s weren’t available 1.5 years ago. ;)

  • Sergei

    Those still struggling. I sold my older iMac with 3.0Ghz core duo and bought mid 2011 27″ model with i7 3.4ghz guard core adde ram to 16Gb and thing flies through Sony a850 and a99 24Mp files, canon 5d and d800 work fast too.

  • Memphis Eisenheim

    Instead of your $5000 PC, get a Mac and see how smooth and fast it works…
    It’s the OS memory/task management that matters. Something that really sucks in windows.

  • Jake

    Buy a new Mac? Really people?? That makes perfect sense if you want to turn an $80 product into a $1600 product. Some of us aren’t pros, don’t have a lot of money to spend on a hobby, and expect current software to work well enough on current hardware without sacrificing performance.

  • DarrenWard

    The zoom stuff is interesting but there isn’t a fast and accurate way to control those zoom level settings and you can’t configure one because Adobe inexplicably don’t give you the ability to customise your keyboard shortcuts. You can press Z to jump between fill or fit (depending on which you last used) and whatever the last manual zoom level was, but not between two manual zoom levels. The Ctrl and +/- shortcut needs two keys to be pressed multiple times and it only lets you select 1:1, 1:2, fill and fit anyway. The navigator drop down on the left panel requires you to have the whole left panel open for that tiny drop down and the bar on the toolbar is a bit awkward to use quickly and accurately. The zoom controls are pretty woeful come to think of it.
    Using the 1:X zoom levels also disables using the scroll wheel to go through images even if the whole image fits the screen.

    I find spot healing being number one in the list a bit odd as that’s one of things that causes slowdown for me. It and brush adjustments were pretty much the only thing that ever sapped performance in LR 3.6. In LR 4.3 it’s those, plus the detail panel and other things seem to hang occasionally for no reason. I can happily move the basic sliders around and get an instant response one time then another time they’ll have a long delay before you see any effect.

  • Jimmy

    Lightroom 4 is known to be slower than previous versions to a lot of people, even on Macs. Stop being such a fan boy and saying it runs smoother on a Mac. I have nothing against Mac since I do a lot of work on both systems, but my PC and main workstation at home severely out performs some of the latest Macs I use at University in Lightroom, Photoshop, After Effects, etc.

  • WKYA_Radio

    Adobe is full of it.

    They know damn well that thier product has terrible programming. The speed of these computers nowadays even compared to a few years ago is impressive to say the least.

    CS6 runs awesome even on my ‘old’ core 2 duo 3.06. Even with LR 4 installed, ill stick with LR 3.6 until the next round. Adobe for some reason refuses to address the performance problems (buy more ram! wtf) . That means it has to be something deep in the coding of this product that they will not re-invest resources in. Adobe straight up ignored the performance related threads for quite soem time. The updates to address them did very little.


  • WKYA_Radio

    But what wouldn’t be fast with a 750 flash drive?

  • Remi Carreiro

    I’m gonna go ahead and agree with you on this one. I can’t quite remember the performance differences between LR 4 and 3 but I know that it’s behaving quite slowly. I’ve got 16GB RAM available but am still running on an HDD as with most of the population. The loading between tabs is sometimes a bit long, like I can’t imagine that too many resources are being recalled from the disk each time that I enter into a different tab. I’m just glad it was a gift.

  • Jesse

    I’m running a 15″ macbook retina with 16gb of ram and a 2.6ghz processor. Lightroom has still been painfully slow for me recently. The solution can’t possibly have lightroom’s window be smaller. I may as well be using an iPhone if thats the case.

  • Melo

    It is a Mac.

  • Caltechie

    This is dictated by the FSB action on the on-board processor for the most part, if the same cores are being used then the memory will be appropriated similarly. There is no magic to Macs nor is there to PC’s, both appropriate very efficient. It doesn’t suck, there is no supercomputer top tier supercomputer in the world running OSX for the very reason because barebones Xserve systems and OSX builds cannon run full barebones, wasting ram and wasting time. For these task, in lightroom, I get more speed from a i7 on a PC than an i7 on a Mac.

  • rogerroger

    it is, the graphics processor in this laptop is painfully slow, and the resolution pretty much makes this a PC i5 with 4gbs of 1336mhz ram. This is not a desktop or desktop substitute, it’s still a laptop.

  • harumph

    Yeah, I’m running LR4 on the same 27″ but without any upgrades, and it runs smooth without any lags at all. LR4 is a demanding application, but I think people who are saying that they see lag with $5000 systems are probably having other issues that can’t really be blamed on the program.

  • ho

    my pc have 12gb ram just lightroom4 use 2gb with all system thinks apex 4gb. in lightroom I go Edit > Preferences > and here cant find Performance. Somebody know why?

  • Jesse

    well that stinks

  • Melo

    Well that’s a pretty dumb thing to say without knowing anything about our systems. I own four macs, all run LR slow but run the rest of the adobe suite smoothly.

    Upgraded 27″ iMac with main SSD + 1tb with i7 and 32GB ram + all Thunderbolt drives.

    Brand new MBP 15″ Retina maxed out with 768gb SSD + 16gb ram

    MacBook Air 13″ maxed out

    Mac Mini i5 8gb ram


    By your logic all of these systems have a flaw but not Lightroom?

    I’m a pro that’s been using all adobe products for a decade. I think I know what works and what doesn’t.

  • luc_fr

    Best speed increase, beside RAM, is using a SSD, even a small one. Put cache and OS on a SSD, leave the raw files on a large spinning disk. Calculate previews offline (go get a coffee).
    So SSD, SSD, SSD… Best $100 or $200 you can spend.

  • harumph

    And yet I’m still the one who can run LR4 with no lag on my out-of-the-box no-upgrades 27″ imac.

  • Melo

    So you say.

  • WKYA_Radio

    Well that’s part of the point…most people get the issues, a few dont. Isnt that for adobe to figure out? the difference between LR 3 & 4 is crazy. t this point im surpriused some souper programmer guy hasnt gone in to look at wtf is goign on – and shame adobe in the process (axtually, not too hard to do these days)

    and most of the time you have to see it in action- just because you say “it flies” doesn’t mean that you have a concept of what lag actually is.

  • Cochese

    Lightroom 4 is working great on my laptop. And it’s 3 years old. Well, it will be 3 years old in about a month. However, it was terribly slow on my other laptop. The main difference bing double the RAM and an SSD.

    For those saying to “get a Mac,” you’re either just trying to troll, or you’re blinded by your own ignorance. Hit up the Adobe forums, the performance problem is prevelant for all systems from all vendors with nearly every configuration of hardware. There is nothing inherently special about a Mac system.

  • Hugo Cuellar Rodriguez

    PS CS6 and LR4 were having problems keeping up with my clicks. It got so annoying I decided to give my 2009 Mac Pro 2- 2.26GHz CPUs 6GB ram MORE RAM!
    I bought a 32GB G.Skill kit and dude, the difference is HUUUGE.
    My mac was 3500 in 2009, it is now 1600 used on ebay. To keep up with software you gotta keep up with hardware.

  • Neoracer Xox

    LR4 works like a breeze for me never noticed any slow downs on full Raw files this is what I got:

    Intel® Core™ i7-2600K Processor (4x 3.40GHz/8MB L3 Cache)
    16 GB [4 GB X4] DDR3-1333 Memory Module – Corsair or Major Brand
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti – 1GB – FREE Upgrade to GTX 560 Ti EVGA Superclocked
    SSD Cache – 60 GB ADATA S511 SSD SATA-III 6Gb/s

    And I can still play relevant games on it, unlike a MAC;)

  • Jayde Aleman

    I never had an issue with LR4 until I changed my antivirus software, I’ve always used AVG, but I thought I’d try something different and installed Bitdefender, it took me a couple of weeks to figure it out, but it was Bitdefender making LR4 unusable, I unistalled it and put AVG back on, LR was back to normal.

  • melkiades

    Adobe is a big ugly giant who has no clue as to how to create streamlined software. We get bloatware, as if we were in 1990 with Bill Gates running the world of computers. It’s DISGUSTING. A company with a philosophy of a bunch of thieves. We need a new company to wipe them out, just like Google wiped out the insignificant Microshit. It’s EXTINCTION time.

  • James

    That’s a huge exaggeration that does Adobe far too much credit. The 2012 Retina MacBook Pro is a blazing fast computer, laptop or not. Its SSD, CPU and GPU put almost any desktop computer from 12/24 months prior to shame. Regardless, as the original poster pointed out, the same hardware and OS can run Photoshop much, much faster. LR just isn’t well written enough yet. Adobe need a fundamental change of attitude towards what is good enough. They seem to focus almost entirely on features rather than polish.

    It’s clear using Lr and Ps that Adobe doesn’t embrace native OS APIs in a full-blooded way. The windows seem to almost run on their own emulation layer. I can’t help wonder how much Adobe uses platform agnostic code under the hood in order to save money to the detriment of users that pay a great deal of money. They are a hard company to love.