Maximize Compatibility for Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: When I imported all my photos into Lightroom Classic, it generally went well, but I found that many would not load because Lightroom said that there was an incompatibility with them. The message I got indicated that the files could not be read and that I need to enable Maximum Compatibility mode. Do you have any idea how I can recover my photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic only supports the import of Photoshop PSD files that have the “Maximum Compatibility” option enabled. Therefore, for PSD files you weren’t able to import due to this issue you’ll need to re-save them with the option enabled, which you can do in batch with the Image Processor.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic doesn’t employ layers the way Photoshop does, and so in order to import PSD files into Lightroom Classic you need to have the Maximize Compatibility option turned on. This saves the image with what amounts to a flattened copy of the layered file embedded, so that Lightroom Classic is able to generate a preview, for example.

You could set the “Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility” option to “Always” on the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog in Photoshop, and then open and re-save each individual PSD file that Lightroom Classic couldn’t import. However, it is much easier to use the Image Processor feature for this purpose.

The tricky part of this process can be keeping track of the images while processing them in an efficient way. If there aren’t too many of them, for example, you could move them all into a single folder for processing, import the processed images into Lightroom Classic, and then move each of them into the desired folder from within Lightroom Classic.

The easiest way to process images for this purpose is to use the Image Processor feature of Photoshop, initiating the process in Adobe Bridge. Start by browsing the location where the PSD files are located and selecting all of them that need to be processed. Then from the menu choose Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor.

This will launch Photoshop if it wasn’t already running and bring up the Image Processor dialog. In the second section of the dialog you can choose the “Save in Same Location” option, as long as you are comfortable replacing the non-compatible versions of the image with compatible versions. In the third section you can turn on the “Save as PSD” checkbox and then turn on the “Maximize Compatibility” checkbox, turning off the checkboxes for the JPEG and TIFF file type options.

You can then click the Run button, and the images you had selected in Bridge will be processed and saved with the Maximize Compatibility option enabled. Those images can then be imported into Lightroom Classic and managed through your normal workflow.