I spend a lot of time helping other Lightroom users troubleshoot, identify and solve problems. In my continuing effort to write myself out of a job I pulled together a collection of tips that probably account for a third of all the issues I see. Some of these tips are preventative measures (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!) and some are intended to help you work faster, but hopefully together they help you become a more productive Lightroom user.

1. If Lightroom suddenly starts running slowly, freezing up or acting strangely there are a few things you should do before pulling out your hair:

  • First, simply restart Lightroom.
  • If that doesn’t solve the problem then reboot and run Lightroom by itself to see if that makes a difference.
  • If the problem persists it is time to replace (or trash) the Lightroom preference file.
  • Still no love? OK, create a new Lightroom catalog (File > New Catalog), import some test photos and try to reproduce the problem. If you can’t reproduce the problem it is time to restore from the backup catalog to replace the one having a problem.

2. Keep Lightroom up-to-date. Adobe releases updates to Lightroom several times per year and each release includes support for newer cameras as well as important bug fixes (and the occasional new feature). You can have Lightroom look for updates automatically by going to Lightroom > Preferences (Win: Edit > Preferences) and ticking the Automatically check for updates box. What I like to do is keep an eye on the RSS feed from Lightroom Journal to get the full scoop on each release (check the comments from other users too).

Tip: If you are a Photoshop user make sure you are using the latest version of the Camera Raw plugin too, which is a separate install. When you see Lightroom’s splash screen it will show you what version of the Camera Raw plugin is equal to that version of Lightroom. For example, with Lightroom 2.5 the equivalent version of the camera raw plugin is 5.5.

Grab the latest (non-beta) version of both Lightroom and Camera Raw from Adobe.

3. Keep your operating system up-to-date, but be mindful of the hazards on the bleeding edge. This is a tricky one because while each update to your operating system holds the promise of better performance and new features it can also lead to problems, which require new updates to fix. If you are savvy enough to get yourself out of problems then by all means lead the way for the rest of us, but if you are curious yet cautious this is a good time to keep your eyes on the user to user forums to see how others are faring before you take the plunge.

4. Keep your printer drivers up-to-date too. Technology marches onward at an unrelenting pace. When you are about to update your operating system take a moment to check the website of your printer manufacturer to see if they posted an update to the printer driver for the printer model you are using. Keep in mind that updated printer drivers tend to lag behind updated operating systems, so if printing is mission critical to your workflow you should wait to upgrade your OS until the new printer drivers are ready. Uninstall your old driver to do a clean install of the new one. Make sure you have the freshest set of paper profiles while you are at it.

5. OK, you are all up-to-date and your system is humming like the finely tuned machine it should be and you want a quick sure-fire way to boost your productivity to the next level? Learn more shortcuts. This is the simplest way to increase your productivity (and it is free). Once you start using them you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t start sooner! So, here is the complete list of Lightroom keyboard shortcuts. Here is a cool Lightroom shortcut configuration that comes with a graphic (I use it for my desktop wallpaper). Here is a simple, but super effective way to start learning one letter at a time. Pick a new shortcut and start using it right now.