Updated: Jun 28
With Lightroom Classic Smart Previews
In this article, we summed up important information about Adobe Smart Previews. What are they, what are their benefits and how to use them wisely.
What are Smart Previews?
Lightroom Classic catalogs were designed to help photographers organize & process large numbers of photographs, all in one place. When importing photos into a catalog, a link is being formed between the original (source) photos and the catalog in order to view and edit them within Lightroom. Smart Previews are DNG files that are smaller than the original photos, they can get up to 70% smaller than the original files and save a lot of storage space.
The benefits of Smart Previews
Having Smart Previews built in the catalog for the source images, allows you to view and process them without having to keep the source images available (online) for Lightroom, either on an external or local drive.
Processing the Smart Previews in Lightroom does not harm the original files, and any changes made to the Smart Previews will be applied to the original files once they are connected back to Lightroom.
Building and using Smart Previews
Building Smart Previews can be done in several methods;
Import In Lightroom Import Dialog, under File Handling at the top right corner, check the box next to "Build Smart Previews". This will create the Smart Previews for all the images included in that import.
Library You can build Smart Previews for images in an existing catalog even if you haven't done so on import. Toggle to Library mode (E, G), select the images you wish to build the Smart Previews for, or don't select anything to build Smart Previews for the entire catalog, then click Library > Previews > Build Smart Previews. Anytime you build Smart Previews, you must have the original files available.
Export You can export images to a new catalog from an existing catalog. Go to File > Export as Catalog, then select the checkbox next to Build/Include Smart Previews.
Tips for using Wand with Lightroom Smart Previews
Smart Previews speed up Wand Plugin as well. If you are using Wand on an existing catalog (and not the Run on Import feature which requires the original files to be online), make sure you have Smart Previews built and the original files disconnected (offline) from Lightroom. You can disconnect the originals by disconnecting the external drive they are on or changing the name of the folder containing the originals. Don't forget to change it back to its original name before you export so that Lightroom will use the original files instead of the Smart Previews for rendering.
Having this setup applied will increase Wand's processing speed by 300%.
If you don't feel like reading the above, we really recommend watching Anthony Morganti's video on Lightroom Smart Previews, check it out -