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How Many Images Can You Have in One Lightroom Catalog and Have It Still Perform Well?


Last week when we were hosting our live KelbyOne member Q&A webcast about my Simplified Lightroom Image Management (SLIM) System online course, one of our viewers asked that question, and I was stumped.

So, I went to my friends at Adobe and asked that same question. I knew that “back in the day” (when Lightroom first shipped around 10-years ago), catalogs could start to get sluggish when they hit around 50,000 or 60,000 images, but I also know that since then Adobe has made great advancements in the backend of Lightroom and that catalogs could now be really big, but I was never sure “how big” and if there was a number where even Adobe would say, “OK, that’s too much.”

Here’s what I learned:
You can put an insane amount of images in your catalog. In fact, Adobe knows of users that have single Lightroom catalogs with literally millions of images, including one that has over six million images and it still runs like a champ, so I guess at this point nobody knows exactly what the limit is (or if there even is one), but we know this — the roof isn’t six million. 🙂

There are a lot of things that determine how zippy Lightroom is, so it’s possible to have a much smaller catalog that still feels sluggish, because there are so many things  that affect Lightroom’s performance, including your hardware configuration (everything from how much RAW you have, to how fast the hard drive is that you’ve got your catalog installed on, and there’s graphics cards issues, and workflow issues, and well…you get the idea).

How to tune Lightroom for peak performance
Here’s a link to a really eye-opening article from Adobe , on how to set your system, and Lightroom, to run its fastest on your particular system. I have to tell you, there were definitely some things in there that I did not know when it comes to tuning your system. Well worth the read (and thanks to Adobe’s Jeff Tranberry for turning me on to this info, and letting me share it with you).

Hope you found that helpful, and here’s wishing you a zippy Lightroom weekend!



P.S. If you’re looking for a fun Lightroom course to watch this weekend, check out my class named after this very site — Lightroom Killer Tips. Here’s the link.