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Lightroom Smart Previews: You might miss out if you don’t use them

As a photographer, you probably shoot raw images and edit them directly in Adobe Lightroom Classic or Photoshop.

You may never have used Lightroom Smart Previews, but they can come in handy if you want to edit at a café or on the road on a laptop and you don’t want to drag a bunch of external hard drives with you with all that content-heavy raw data you downloaded from your camera card.

If you decide to outsource your editing at some point Smart Previews make it a breeze to share your photos without using up a lot of space or time to send them.

Smart Previews provide lighter versions of your photos for editing

Smart Previews are a “lite” version of your photo data that you can apply all of the usual Lightroom edits and presets to your heart’s content.

With Smart Previews you will save space on your laptop so it makes for faster opening files and a zippy computer interface even if you are just on a laptop that doesn’t have a lot of storage.

When you’re ready to publish your images as prints or catalogs you just save and export the presets and apply them to your camera raw files.

The great thing about Lightroom edits is that they are lossless. You can always revert back to your original images. The only time they are set in stone is when you save your JPGs for clients to download for print or online catalogs

How to set up Smart Previews so you can travel light

You must set up your Smart Previews from the original raw photo files before you can use Smart Previews.

It only takes about 2 minutes to export your data and create smart previews.

  • First, make sure you are in the Library module and not the edit module
  • select the photos you want to make smart previews of.
  • click open the library menu- scroll down to Previews to open the sub-menu and click Build Smart Previews.
  • save the previews to a folder and check to make sure you have 2 files before leaving your raw files behind.

Smart previews are great for outsourcing your editing

If you ever do decide to outsource your editing you won’t want to send your full raw data because even zipped because this can take a hefty amount of space and be hard to transfer.

Send Smart Previews to save space

Saving Smart Previews of the photos you want to edit makes transferring easy. You can zip your files and upload them to dropbox or send them through WeTransfer.

Your editor can do all the lightroom adjustments you want without having to worry about large file transfers. Your editor can simply unzip the smart previews and open them in lightroom.

Once edited they send the SMart Previews back with the new settings for you to apply to your photo catalogs for your final exported jpg files for clients.

And voila! You just saved yourself some time and energy by using Smart Previews. Smart Previews make your life easier if you want to outsource.

Read my article on why you might want to think about outsourcing your photo editing.