Jun 122013
 

lightroom 5 smart previewsLightroom 5 smart previews allow you to develop your photos, even when the masters are offline. Imagine traveling with your laptop, and leaving your big heavy external hard drive with all your photos back at home. Work on your photos on the road, and when you get home and reconnect your hard drive, your work is seamlessly applied to your masters. All you need on the road are your laptop your catalog, and smart previews of your photos.  Not interested in traveling with your photos? Smart previews may still give you a performance benefit in the Develop module.  Finally, Adobe has hinted that at some point in the future, smart previews will enable us to work with our photos in a Lightroom app on our mobile devices.

Watch this video for more on how smart previews work, and how to build and manage them. This is one video of 58 in my Lightroom 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond series, which I hope to have out in the next week or so.

(For higher quality, once you hit Play, click on the sprocket wheel in the bottom right and choose 720/HD.)

Related articles:

Adobe Releases Lightroom 5

Lightroom 5 Videos: Highlights + Individual Features


 

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  12 Responses to “Travel Light with Lightroom 5 Smart Previews”

  1. how do smart previews interact with Photoshop and other tools (OnOne Software or NIK Software)… if a smart preview is edited, can the photo be exported/edited in other program and then imported back into LR?

    • Hi Aron, you can’t go directly from LR to PS (or presumably Nik) with Edit in. You could export a PSD or TIF copy and then open it in PS or Nik, and then import that into LR, but remember that you would be working with only a small and compressed version of your photo.

  2. Hey Laura,

    What happens when you delete a smart preview? Does it delete the master from disk when you re sync?

    • Hi Dan, thanks for bringing up this point that I missed. When you try to delete the photo, LR warns you that it cannot delete the offline original, and gives you the choice to still remove the photo from the LR catalog. When your originals are offline, I recommend flagging photos for deletion, with the reject flag, a color label, keyword or collection, and then actually doing your deletes when the originals are back online.

  3. So in addition to being bigger previews, Lightroom add two major things you could not do before to regular previews. First, you can export Smart Previews. These are not huge files so using Smart Previews is not recommended for high quality print jobs. But if you want to send a proof to a client or post an image to Facebook, the smart previews are perfect.

  4. Love the idea of smart previews and I’m about to upgrade to LR 5 for that reason. I’ll move my photos to an external drive so I can work on them from the laptop (mostly) as well as my iMac. I understand the changes i make to the smart previews will sync when I reconnect my hard drive. My question is – if i make changes to the smart previews using my laptop then sync it to the hard drive, will the photos on the iMac be updated to reflect those changes when I connect the hard drive to it? Will the catalog on my iMac realise that changes have been made to the master (on the external drive) and automatically sync them?

    • Hi Jodie, if you regularly work on two computers, then I would put both your photos and your catalog on the external hard drive (and not bother building smart previews). Lightroom does not have the ability to detect changes that are stored in a different catalog. Here’s a blog post on this. (I discuss different organizational solutions in depth in my Fundamentals & Beyond video series. There is also a video in this on how to update one catalog with work done in another.)

  5. Laura,do i really need smart previews if i do not work with a laptop(or travel with it) and just work with my desktop at home with my master photos. Thanks!!

  6. I have a desktop computer, where my catalog lives. The files are on an external, but always connected. I recently got a laptop with intent of editing and working on my catalog away from the home. How would you recommend I approach working with my files on the laptop? My catalog has 4500 files, and I don’t want to be importing and exporting as catalog all the time and having a limited number. Id rather have all the files on my laptop, and my desktop, and be able to edit them on the go from the laptop and sync back to desktop when back home.
    Is brute copy of the full catalog and smart previews the only solution, i made them even though my drive is always connected, in the case of emergency failure, and have plenty of space. And then manual copies from laptop back to desktop?
    Any cleaner or more elegant way to handle this juggling act would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Hector,

      You could also consider storing your catalog and your photos on an external drive, and taking this with you when you travel. This way there is no syncing necessary. (Some day hopefully we will be able to easily sync between desktop and laptop using the same approach that Lightroom 5.4 now allows us to sync from our Desktop to our iPads.)

      Another option would be to store your catalog and smart previews in Dropbox, where you could access it from either computer. However, you have to be extremely careful not to open it on one machine while another is writing to it, or you’ll corrupt the catalog.

  7. Hi there, i have all my photos in my desktop pc, at the hdd. I once have seen that i can save a collection in a usb and work it on my laptop, then put it back in my desktop with my usb and synk the changes i made in the develop module, but i cant find the steps to do that, i remember it uses the smart previews. thanks a lot

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