Relaunch and Optimize Your Catalog Today

I hope you had a great weekend. I just wanted to say a quick thanks for all of the great comments on Friday’s video post. I’ll definitely be mixing some of the Before/After videos here on the site. I’ve also decided to create (and already started working on) a “Lightroom/Photoshop Before and After” class and DVD for Kelby Training. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

Anyway, on to the topic of today’s post. I was poking through the Catalog settings menu in Lightroom and realized I hadn’t optimized my catalog in a while. Adobe recommends optimizing when your catalog grows in size. What size you ask? No one really knows but I use 10,000 as a good number. It’s not big in terms of how big catalogs can grow, but it’s still a substantial number of photos. I usually optimize after I’ve imported a lot of photos (thousands) and also deleted a lot of photos. Lately, I’ve been doing some catalog maintenance (importing older photos and deleting a lot too) so I figured it was a good time to try it again. I can’t say that Lightroom was completely sluggish before I did it but I remember thinking to myself a few times that things should be happening a little faster. After I optimized it did seem like things moved a little zippier (I love that word!) then usual.

So give it a try when you have a few minutes today. For all of you number-crunching techie folks out there, I’ve not found statistics on exactly what percentage of optimization or zippiness (there’s that word again) you’ll get from it but it can’t hurt to try it out. Remember that at it’s core, Lightroom’s catalog is like a database file (let the snoring begin). And databases consistently need to be optimized and things moved around once in a while to help them perform better. So that’s pretty much the same deal here.

To optimize, go to your Catalog Settings dialog (Lightroom menu on a Mac and Edit menu on a PC). Go under the General tab and click the Relaunch and Optimize button at the bottom. Mine took about 5 minutes for a catalog with around 20,000 images in it so go grab yourself a cup of coffee (or coke zero) when you do it.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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23 Comments

  1. Hi Matt:
    I have try his a couple of times, but my catalog is getting bigger and bigger, and therefore slow. I may have missed it, but I was wondering if you can have more than one catalog, if they work independently (faster), and how is the best way to organized them?
    Thanks a lot for the great tips,
    Ricardo

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  2. Hi Matt, in Capture NX2 you can activate double threshold, move the slider underneath the histogram until you see the first black and white spots appearing in your image and set a white and black point. When doing so, the contrast of your picture is optimzed an dfurthermore any colorcast is completely removed. Is there any way to do the same or receive the same results in Lr ?

    Many thanks and best wishes

    Robert

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  3. Hi!

    I think wasted space is generated when you remove photos from the catalog. I look at it as ‘holes’ which remain in the DB. So whenever you deleted hundreds of photos I would recommend to optimize the database.

    Sacha

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  4. I actually use a new catalogue for every project I work on which keeps nice and zippy all the time. The catalogue files seem pretty small so I can’t see the benefit of using one massive catalogue.

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  5. Hi!

    Very interesting and helpful blog! Thank you!

    I have a question. The LR is realy nice program for editing photos but I see that LR not so good for quick viewing and sorting photos. Maybe I don’t know right ways to do this. Could you create post about viewing photos?

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  6. Great tip, Matt, and a timely one too: my catalog has just tipped 20,000! Optimising is presently underway.

    Thanks,
    Balliolman,
    England.

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  7. My main catalog is larger than 20,000 but it gets reoptimized periodically when I do my more-or-less weekly automatic backups. I also backup the catalog file itself at least once a day. I had never done a manual reoptimization, though – thanks for the suggestion.

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  8. Robert-Peter Westphal – you can correct the color cast by hitting the “J” key in the develop module as a first step. This enable you to see where you lose detail in both the shadows and highlights. Move the exposure slider until you like the highlight setting. Move the blacks slider until you have the black point set. Then use the brightness slider to get the overall photo to the right brightness. Don’t worry about the brightness until the end. Works like a charm. Hit the “J” key again to turn it off.

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  9. haha, my catalog is over 50.000 already now, its getting really big and slow.

    do you guys think dividing them every 10.000 can help the performance?

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  10. I break my catalogs up, but I’ve got some approaching the 8,000 mark. I definitely give the optimization a whirl. Didn’t even notice the option……

    Thanks for another great tip!

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  11. @ Robert. What I do is press and hold CTRL + ALT (PC) whilst mousing on the Exposure slider. This turns the image black and I then move the slider until the brightest parts of the image first start to appear. Repeat the same key actions when moving onto the blacks slider only this time the image turns black and you adjust until the darkest parts of the image first start to appear. On a Mac it would be CTRL + Option I belive.

    @ Matt. Any possibility of you doing a video demonstrating the differences between the Exposure and Brightness sliders? You might need to consult with your Adobe buddies first on this because what is stated in the Help file (the theory) isn’t exactly what is appearing, or indeed happening, in practise. Thanks.

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  12. Hi Matt. Sweden again. Great tip again. I run Lightroom on a PC with 4 GB of RAM and a dual core processor. I think it works a little slow sometimes, especially when I move between panels. Do you have any optimizing tip on that it would be great.

    Great blog!

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  13. I can’t wait for your Before and After course on Kelby Training. Now that we have the Lightroom basics down, having a master course by you is the next step to take our own work to the next level. I was amazed by how much more proficient I have become from what I learned at Photoshop World from the great Lightroom track – yours included.

    Regarding the issue of one or several catalogs, I noticed that Terry White advocated using multiple catalogs in his “Evening with Terry White” training. I just broke up my huge catalog and am planning to do the same for the remaining photos left behind. If I ever need to combine images I can always export them as a catalog and merge them into another catalog. Things were just too unwieldy with unrelated images all in the same giant catalog.

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  14. Great job, really enjoyed the before and after. Learned tons of stuff.
    It went a little fast in PS.
    Thanks for a great job, sure wish I had know about the arches workshop,
    hope you get a mailing list some day.

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  15. Hello,
    I make standard size previews when I import my pictures… and I keep my photos on a separate hard drive. I frequently like to to look at the catalog to organize and sort the library with just the previews, and I don’t need the hard drive hooked up to do this (great for plane trips).
    When I optimized my catalog, it deleted all the previews I had imported for pictures I hadn’t looked at yet. I had to go back in and waste time re-rendering previews for all of my photos.
    Not a big fan of optimizing.

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  16. Thanks for the tip. In conjunction with Lightroom Queen’s post about Hurrying Up Lr, I both optimised the catalogue and undertook some of Lr Queen’s suggestions. I also went and trimmed out 11GB of unneeded catalogue backups! I blogged about it here – Tidying up Lightroom. For me, optimising trimmed the catalogue by 20MB, just over an 8% percent decrease in size.

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  17. Hi Matt, definitely like the before and after video’s, good to see the whole workflow on some of your actual images.
    Cheers

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  18. Great tip as always. I try to remember to optimize regularly but I forget often. Wouldn’t it be great if Lightroom would remind you to optimize regularly? Maybe 2.4??

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  19. Hi Matt;

    Just wanted to let you know that Nik Software’s ‘Sharpener Pro 3.0′ is now compatible with Lightroom. free updates are available for all owners of Sharpener Pro 3.0 or their Complete Collection.

    Matt, do you know of anyway to;

    1.) Resize an image inside Lightroom with having to export it to do so?
    2.) Apply a frame inside Lightroom?

    My workflow requirement fyg is;
    1.) Resize image to 720px (longest edge)
    2.) Apply sharpening
    3.) Apply simple frame 80px
    4.) Apply watermark
    5.) Export image for web (under 300kb)

    Would greatly appreciate any suggestions you may have. Cheers!
    – Dan

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  20. @Dan Walsh – I think you are looking for http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrmogrify.php

    The trial version of this software is fully functional and allows you to export up to 10 images at a time. If you would like to support the development of this product then please consider donating. This will remove the restriction.

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  21. Now I love that word 2 :-) Thanks for the tip!

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  22. Great, didn’t know the function. Have about 30.000 photos in LR2 en deleting rejected photos took more and more time. Now it’s fast again. Thanks.

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