Post 8
Introduction to Adobe Lightroom ®
Smart Previews (Feature added in Lightroom® 5)
What are Previews?
Lightroom® is a photo management system that uses catalogs. Lightroom keeps track of all your edits, settings and metadata in this catalog. Your images are stored offline, but Lightroom still knows what your photos look like even when you aren’t plugged in to them. How? Through previews.
How are Smart Previews Different?
Smart Previews do not replace the regular previews, but are lossy DNG formated versions of the original files.  There are many reasons to use these, but the most important one is to minimize the space they take on the hard drive. Smart Previews are 2048 pixels on the long edge (big enough for an ipad screen). They are not recommended for high quality print jobs, but are great for proofs or Facebook images.
Another cool thing about Smart Previews is you can edit and export them, which means you can work on your images, even when they aren’t actually online.
When do I use Smart Previews?
If you store your images on an external hard drive and keep all your Lightroom catalogs on your local hard drive, Smart Previews will be perfect for you.
If you keep your Lightroom catalog in the same place as your original images, or if your original images are stored on your local hard drive where you always have access to them, Smart Previews will just take up space. Don’t bother with them.
If you use stars, flags, collection, colors, keywords etc., to sort and keep track of your images, Smart Previews will help you. A most effective way to use them will be for your most-used or most-important images.
(Next Post: Duplicates and Copies in Lightroom)
These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®
Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out jenniferapffel.com, albaphotography.net, or look for her on fineartamerica.com.