Smart Previews: What are they?

Before you start using smart previews, it’s probably pretty important that you know what they are. So today, we’re going to talk all the Lightroom creation, and the best way to use them.

What are Smart Previews?

They’re lossy DNG files that are Lightroom rendered. Or, more simply put they, smaller versions of your images that are embedded into your catalogue. This is done by Lightroom building a lower resolution DNG file from your RAW or JPEG file.

In size, preview files are 2540 pixels on their longest edge. This makes them big enough to be exported as a web resolution file. But, for print quality files, you’d need to export the original files.

Why should I care about Smart Previews?

There are a few different reasons why they’re great!

1. They give freedom
By building smart previews you are able to edit or work on images when you don’t have the images with you. Say you forgot your external drive at home but want to work on a session, if you have built smart previews you are able to edit and work on the images without actually having them with you. Any change you make to the files will directly be applied to the files once you’ve reconnected your external drive.

2. They move faster
We recently shared a blog post about culling in Lightroom(see that here), a favourite for Myles. Because of their size, previews will download each images faster in Lightroom, which gives you more speed when culling or editing. You don’t have to wait the extra few seconds for each image to fully download.

How do I build Smart Previews?

The great thing about previews is they can be created when you first important your images, or at a later time.

When you first are importing your images, under File Handling on the right hand side, you can choose to tick .

If you choose to build your smart previews after the original import, you can easily do this in the Library dropdown module.
Library > Previews > Build Smart Previews. You can choose to build smart previews for every image, or selected images.

If you liked this post, you would also probably like this post on how to use Smart Previews.


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