Lightroom: Spring Cleaning

category: Lightroom • 2 min read

Spring is just around the corner and it’s time for a good spring cleaning. Sometimes, actually often, Lightroom can become very messy. A good wash and cleanup can help a lot. The larger the catalog, the messier Lightroom gets.

The Files

The Photos

The simplest and the best way to speedup everything is to delete all the “so-so” photos. All the photos that you have never looked back at since taking them. These are the mediocre photos. These photos do not have a sentimental value and they do not have any technical value. They do nothing, they just crowd and swarm the quality photos.

Every so often, I go bananas and decide to delete a few thousand of these “so-so” photos.

The Previews

Usually, it is faster to generate the full 1:1 previews during the import instead of generating each preview as you browse. It’s not really faster, but it gives the impression of being faster when browsing the photos.

The problem is “How long to keep the previews?” I have 2 catalogs. The first catalog has almost 150 thousand photos and the second one just over 20 thousand photos. How many of these photos do I look at it again? Just as much as you do. Here are the sizes:

Catalog Photos Size Size of Previews
WIP/Temp 148,487 1.8Gb 17.5 Gb
My Work 20,142 249Mb 3.2 Gb

By deleting all the previews, Lightroom will rebuild the previews as needed and only when for the specific photos. For me, that’s another 20 gigabytes of free space and 20 Gb less to backup/restore.

The Backups

Actually, Lightroom doesn’t backup anything. It only copies the catalog, usually in a directory that is next to the catalog, so if you crash your drive, you crash both the catalog and the backups…

How many backups do you have? By default, it’s one backup per week, this means dozens of backups that are not current. Time to delete most of the old dates.

The Lightroom Stuff

The Collections

Because of the way I work, a large number of my collections are temporary. All my important collections sets have sub-collections:

  1. All
  2. Selects, the photos that I will show to the customer
  3. Picks, the photos tat I like and/or the customer likes
  4. Web final, the photos that are destined for the web
  5. Print final, the photos that are to be printed

When I’m done, I usually replace the sub-collections with keywords and delete the sub-collections, except for the prints which are processed separately.

  • How many of the keywords, you have never used?
  • How many of the presets in the Develop module, you have installed and not used since Lightroom 1.x?
  • How many watermarks, borders… you have never used?
  • What about all these wonderful templates that are sitting doing nothing…

The catalog gets cleaned up, optimized and backed up when I exit Lightroom.