It’s no secret that Lightroom can run a bit sluggish at times, especially when trying to render previews of high-megapixel files from cameras like the Nikon D810, Canon 5DS R, or the Sony A7r II. I hate staring at the dreaded “loading” icon as I move from image to image. Rather than sitting and waiting for each image preview to render individually, here are two options to have Lightroom build the previews in the background. This way, you can get up and get some coffee while the computer does all the work.

Option 1 – Build Previews on Import

There’s a dropdown on the top-right of the import window that let’s you select how to build previews. By default, Lightroom will render minimal previews. This is basic stuff like generating the image thumbnails. If you click on the dropdown and choose Standard, Lightroom will render the image that you see in loupe mode or the develop module.

A 1:1 preview is the zoomed version of your image inside of the loupe.

On a side note, Lightroom’s import process can be slow without rendering previews. Once you start adding another thing for Lightroom to do, expect the import process to slow down.

Option 2 – Render Images already Imported to Lightroom

You can also render previews of already-imported files. Select the images or folder you want to render and choose Library > Previews > Build Standard-Sized Previews. While Lightroom is building the previews in the background, you can continue to use Lightroom (although it might run a bit slow) or you can get up and walk away. When you get back, Lightroom will have rendered the previews.

At some point, you have to wait for Lightroom to render a standard preview when working with your images. There’s no way to speed it up other than upgrading your computer hardware, but even my maxed out iMac still struggles. I’d just prefer to batch render the previews so I’m not waiting on Lightroom when I’m reviewing my images.