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What Happens When You Reset Preferences?

Scott shared a couple of helpful tips yesterday that every Lightroom Classic user should know in case they experience odd behavior when using Lightroom Classic. One of those tips was to reset the preferences, and a question/comment came up about it being a pain to have to reconfigure your preferences after a reset. My perception is that most people don’t really change too many settings away from the defaults, but it got me wondering if my perception was accurate (#notsoaccurate).

So I reset my preferences a few times and went through to see what settings I normally customize away from the defaults. I wanted to share my thoughts on what happens when you do this, and what you can do to make it easier to reconfigure them should you need to employ this troubleshooting technique. Be sure to check Scott’s post if you are unsure of how to do this.

What Happens?

Well, resetting the preferences happens when launch Lightroom Classic, so when it finally does open it may look different from the last time you used it. First, you may be greeted by the screen informing you of what is new in the version you are running.

After dismissing that screen you may notice that all the panels have changed to default sizes (in my case narrower than I like them), and Solo Mode is no longer enabled. Two things I need to customize STAT.

Next, if you have Photoshop Elements installed, as I do, you will be greeted with a dialog asking if you want to Import photos from Photoshop Elements (I don’t), and so I’ll need to recheck the Don’t show again box and click Cancel.

This reminds me that all of the prompts that I’ve marked as Don’t show again are going to come back to haunt me (#manyclicksahead)

But before I finish that thought I am presented with a walk through of Lightroom Tips to get me started. Thanks, just what I need (#sarcastic). One more click to turn off tips and another click to close the tips.

That’s 5 clicks just to be able to start working on re-configuring my preferences and panels. I’m definitely feeling Matt O’Brien’s pain (the person who commented on Scott’s post that got me thinking about this).

Time to Customize (re-customize) Settings

Ok, after resizing my panels and enabling Solo Mode (Alt/Option click a panel header to enable Solo Mode). I realize that my preferred Grid View style has reverted to default, so off to customize that. Once that is done, I can go to the preferences (Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Mac, Edit > Preferences on Windows).


Thankfully, Adobe made a change some years ago that separated out the Default Catalog setting from the rest of the preferences, so that is retained when resetting preferences. However, on this screen I prefer to check all of the boxes in the Import Options section, and enable completion sounds.


On the Presets panel I see that the new Raw Defaults customizations are preserved (#gratitude). However, if you are the type that checks the Store presets with this catalog box (I am not), then you should know that the box will revert to being unchecked, and you’ll need to check it again. For me, there was nothing to configure here.

External Editing

If you are a PSD fan, and you’ve changed the File Format from the default of TIF to PSD, then you’re going to need to reset that one. Same goes for the Resolution field if you enter something other than 240. All of your additional external editor presets are kept (#whew), but if you had selected one in the Preset drop-down menu so that it is accessible via the Photo > Edit In menu, you’ll need to reselect your preferred external editor preset.

File Handling

I tend to not change anything on File Handling, but that’s just me. I suspect there are a few power users who change a setting or two here, but most go with defaults. How about you?


The only setting I change away from defaults on this panel is to check the Ignore clicks on badges in the Filmstrip section (I keep my Filmstrip small and hate clicking a badge by accident and having it take me away from what I was doing).


While the Use Graphics Processor setting showed as Auto instead of Custom (from before I reset), I didn’t have to actually change any setting here. YMMV.

Lightroom Sync

My customizations for Location were retained, so nothing for me to change here either.


This is a brand new panel, and I’m on my laptop, so nothing to configure or change here. Anyone with a dual monitor setup have a different experience?

Last is the Network panel, but in all the years of its existence I’ve never used it, so nothing to show or change there either.

Closing Thoughts

I appreciate being prompted to go through this exercise with more thought than I have before. I reset my preferences a lot more than the casual user for all of the testing and self-inflicted injury I do when trying to understand problems other people are having (#diditfivetimesjustwritingthis), but I pretty mindlessly clicked through all of the things Lightroom threw at me each time. I can definitely see how annoying some of those things could be to someone who is already frustrated by whatever problem they were having that drove them to reset the preferences to begin with.

I mean, should a user really have to click through the what’s new screen, decline importing from Elements (granted, this is a limited user experience), turn off the tips, resize their panels, re-enable Solo Mode, re-configure Grid View styles, and then troll through the preferences as a consequence of solving (hopefully) a problem caused by a corrupted preference file? Seems a bit extreme. Oh, and when I exit Lightroom the next time I have to see that stupid (#myopinion) Do you really want to quit? dialog, and check both Don’t show again and Yes. Two more clicks (#%$@).

Now I hope you have a better idea of what to expect when/if you go through this process, and gird your loins appropriately. Friend of the blog, Callmebob, suggested screen capturing your preference panels as a way to remind you of what you use. That’s a solid tip for all you Type A personalities out there. My experience is that most people have enough trouble tracking their photos, never mind their screen captures of their preferences settings. I suppose writing down some notes on a sticky pasted to your monitor could help us Type Bs. For everyone else, I hope this blog post my be a reference when the time comes up.



  1. Matt O'Brien 5 March, 2020 at 08:20 Reply

    I should add….. that I have been very critical of Adobe in relation to the usability of Lr and Ps in the past. However, I have noticed a considerable level of effort has been applied in the last 18 months or so, by Adobe, in dealing with a massive backlog of under the hood improvements, which many people will never notice, but make a massive difference, especially for people beginning to use Lr or Ps. I applaud publicly this progress.

    I hope that maybe this item might get some TLC in the not so distant future.

  2. Matt O’Brien 5 March, 2020 at 03:53 Reply

    1. Super well done for documenting this process.

    2. As resetting the preferences is the default solution for all unexplained Lr problems, it is shameful that Adobe do not have a tool which resets the preferences, but preserves the user input fields.

    3. What is more painful is that if the preferences file is the root of so many Lr problems, why has Adobe not resolved this many many years ago

    The most obvious solution is for Adobe to keep the user settings in a user only read only file and keep all the internal status stuff that is maintained internally by the Lr app in a different parameter file, making resetting the preferences a less painful user experience, plus the exercise might help flush out what is going wrong with this parameter file anyway.

    Again, well done for documenting this.

  3. Steve Kalman 1 March, 2020 at 08:17 Reply

    I have a folder with subfolders in my catalog for saved data. License codes for all of software in case I have to reinstall, serial numbers for everything from the PC, to the dishwasher, model names, numbers purchase date/place for all things under warranty. Adding a few screen shots of preferences wasn’t a big deal. (For LR and also for PS)

    By the way, I also have a separate folder with pictures of my driver’s license, passport, insurance cards (wife’s, to) that I sync to LR mobile.

  4. Dennis Zito 28 February, 2020 at 07:17 Reply

    Hey Rob,

    Thanks so much for going through this reset! You actually answered a few questions I’ve had for a while on some of the preference settings.

    You’re the Man!!


  5. Eric Wessman 27 February, 2020 at 07:00 Reply

    I’m glad you took some time to spell that out. Every time I see the Reset Preferences mentioned in an article or post I cringe at what that entails. On the few instances where I have had an issue with LR, I find it easier to close and reopen LR, reboot the computer, or wait for the next update.One of the beauties of LR is the amount of personalization it permits. I have so many things tweaked to my liking that I don’t want to have to start all over again.

  6. Rudi 27 February, 2020 at 04:48 Reply

    Wow, we’ve been long time fighting (i.e. Scott was) for the “Do you really want to quit?” button and it’s good to have it. Just use the “Don’t show again” and you’re good to go.

    Using two displays really was a step forward as it now works better on my Mac (EIZO as 2nd display which is recognized so).

    At least my thoughts about changed settings would just be a button to save what’s different when resetting and then to be able to load them again after the settings were set to default. Or just change the default settings to my actual settings when doing a reset. That shouldn’t be a big change to LR.

    • Rob Sylvan 27 February, 2020 at 09:29 Reply

      Yes, I do use the Don’t show again box. My point in this post is that resetting preferences resets all Don’t show again checkboxes, so I had to see it and check it again (and be reminded of my disdain for that feature). There were far more useful and important things (IMHO) worth fighting for that far superseded that annoying (IMHO) prompt. So it goes. Not something worth losing sleep over.

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