Presets Degrading Performance


Today’s Question: I had heard somewhere along the line that having a lot of presets in Lightroom Classic will cause Lightroom to slow down. Is that still true?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, having a very large number of Develop presets can slow overall performance in Lightroom Classic. However, this is generally not a significant issue unless you have thousands of presets.

More Detail: While too many Develop presets in Lightroom Classic can degrade performance, this isn’t likely to be a significant issue for most photographers.

To begin with, Adobe has indicated that performance does not become a significant concern until you have around 2,000 or more Develop presets. In my experience most photographers do not have anywhere near this number of presets. That said, if you have a large number of presets you don’t use, I do recommend removing them to avoid a degradation in performance.

The more significant issues involve overall system performance. That includes using a fast computer with an adequate amount of memory (RAM) and a fast hard drive especially for the catalog. It can also be helpful to optimize the catalog periodically, which is an option available when you use the built-in catalog backup feature in Lightroom Classic.

So, while having a very large number of Develop presets installed can certainly slow down Lightroom Classic, for most users this isn’t a significant concern and the more impactful issues relate to hardware configuration.

Where to Store Presets in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: What are the pros and cons of checking the “Store presets with this catalog” checkbox in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend that most photographers leave this checkbox turned off. The potential advantage of turning it on is that presets can be easier to find and share across more than one computer. However, turning the option on is not a universal solution and can cause some confusion.

More Detail: By default, Lightroom Classic stores presets in a somewhat “hidden” location within your user folder for your operating system. However, there is an option on the Presets tab of the Preferences dialog to instead store presets with the catalog. This can make it a little easier to find your presets and enables you to share presets across more than one computer if you’re moving your catalog between them, such as on an external hard drive.

However, there are some issues that cause me to recommend leaving the “Store presets with this catalog” checkbox turned off.

To begin with, turning on the option to store presets with the catalog won’t affect all presets, with certain categories of presets still stored within your user folder structure on the operating system hard drive.

In addition, turning on the option to store presets with the catalog will only affect new presets, and will not cause existing presets to be moved. So, you would need to move the presets manually, which creates its own set of challenges.

As many readers know, I recommend using a single Lightroom Classic catalog to manage all photos. If you store presets with the catalog, that means you would have individual sets of presets for each catalog you use. If you’re using more than one catalog this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective.

Ultimately, I recommend leaving all presets in their default location. You can always get quick access to the location where presets are stored by clicking the “Show Lightroom Develop Presets” or the “Show All Other Lightroom Presets” button on the Presets tab of the Preferences dialog.

Synchronization for New Catalog


Today’s Question: I created a mess in Lightroom Classic by moving around my photo files from my computer instead of within Lightroom. I ended up just starting over by creating a new catalog and importing my photos. Lightroom Classic is now asking me to sync my catalog, but I fear my original catalog probably still exists and don’t want duplicates, etc. Should I delete existing catalogs before I sync my newly created one?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can only have one catalog synchronized to your Creative Cloud account. I suggest checking the status of currently synchronized photos before enabling synchronization for your new catalog.

More Detail: In Lightroom Classic you can enable synchronization for individual collections, which will cause JPEG previews for the images in those collections to be synchronized to your Adobe Creative Cloud account. That enables you to view and update those synchronized photos using the Lightroom mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, using the Lightroom cloud-based application, or accessing Lightroom via a web browser (

Because of the way synchronization works in Lightroom Classic, for many photographers it is perfectly safe to change which catalog is being synchronized. However, there is a risk of losing images depending on your specific workflow.

If you have captured new images using the Lightroom mobile app or have imported new photos into the cloud-based version of Lightroom, without having imported those photos into a Lightroom Classic catalog, changing synchronization can cause photos to be lost. That is because the source of those photos will have effectively been discarded by changing the catalog that is the source for synchronization.

I therefore recommend logging in to Lightroom in a web browser at to confirm that no photos are synchronized to your Creative Cloud account that aren’t accounted for on your local hard drive. As noted above, that would include photos captured using the Lightroom mobile app or imported into the cloud-based version of Lightroom. If any such photos exist, you would want to download them to your local storage first, so they can be imported into your new Lightroom Classic catalog.

As long as all photos have been imported into Lightroom Classic and synchronization has only been used from Lightroom Classic to make photos available for sharing elsewhere, it is safe to enable synchronization for your new catalog, which will disable synchronization for the catalog that had previously had synchronization enabled.

Photoshop Round Trip from Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: Is there a way to take a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, add layers, go back to Lightroom Classic, and then back to Photoshop and see the layers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, indeed. You can first send the image to Photoshop by using the menu command Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop. After working with the new derivative image in Photoshop, simply save and close and it will appear in Lightroom Classic. When you want to edit that image (with layers), us the same Edit In command, and choose “Edit Original” from the popup that appears.

More Detail: When you send a raw capture to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic you aren’t prompted with any questions, because no additional information is needed. The raw capture will be processed with the adjustment settings applied in the Develop module, and a new derivative image will be created as a TIFF or Photoshop PSD file depending on the settings established in Preferences.

You can add layers, of course, and otherwise apply any adjustments you’d like in Photoshop. When you’re finished working with the image simply save the final result with the File > Save command (not the “Save As” or “Save a Copy” commands) and close the image. When you go back to Lightroom Classic you’ll find this new derivative image alongside the original photo you had sent to Photoshop.

If you then want to perform some additional work on the layered derivative image, select that TIFF or PSD file in Lightroom Classic and again choose Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop. This time, because you are not sending a raw capture to Photoshop, you’ll be asked how you want to process the image.y

The first option is “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”. This will cause an additional copy of the image to be created but it will be flattened without any layers. The second option is “Edit a Copy”, which will preserve the layers but will also create an additional derivative copy of the image, which you probably don’t need.

I recommend using the “Edit Original” option, which will send the derivative image as it is to Photoshop, including all layers and other work you performed in Photoshop.

There is one important caveat here. When you send the TIFF or PSD image back to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, any adjustments you had applied after that image was back in Lightroom Classic after Photoshop will not be visible while you’re working in Photoshop. The adjustments will be visible again when you save and close the image and return to Lightroom Classic.

For example, let’s assume you sent a color raw capture from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, and did some work that included adding layers. Then, after closing the image in Photoshop and returning to Lightroom Classic, you converted the derivative image to black and white. If you then sent the image back to Photoshop with the “Edit Original” option you would see all the layers in Photoshop, but the image would appear in color. After saving and closing from Photoshop, when you return to Lightroom the image would again appear in black and white. This issue is due to the differences between Lightroom Classic and Photoshop in terms of how adjustments are applied.

DNG for Workflow Standard


Today’s Question: As I understand it, Apple ProRAW (from recent iPhone captures) is a DNG file. Would raw conversions to DNG format from other cameras make workflow more streamlined or convenient within Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can work with Apple ProRAW captures in both Photoshop and Lightroom Classic, in part because they are indeed Adobe DNG files. However, I would not recommend converting other proprietary raw captures to the DNG format just for the sake of a consistent file format.

More Detail: The relatively new Apple ProRAW format is available on the Pro and Pro Max versions of the most recent iPhone models. These captures are a legitimate raw capture stored in the Adobe DNG format, similar to how a handful of other cameras support native DNG capture as a raw capture format.

However, just because you are capturing DNG files with one camera doesn’t mean you should convert proprietary raw captures from other cameras to the Adobe DNG format.

There are two key reasons why I prefer not to convert raw captures to the Adobe DNG format. First and foremost, I prefer to keep my original captures just as they came out of the camera. Since I won’t delete the original captures, in my mind it doesn’t make sense to create another file just to make use of the DNG format.

Second, for many cameras there are special features that require the original raw capture format, in conjunction with software from the camera manufacturer. This includes, for example, features related to automatic dust spot removal for cameras that support this feature.

There are certainly many photographers who prefer to convert their proprietary raw captures to the openly documented Adobe DNG format, in part due to concerns about proprietary file formats. I don’t share that concern, and prefer to preserve the original captures as they came from the camera, regardless of which camera or capture format I’ve used.

Hard Drive Trouble


Today’s Question: One of my hard drives suddenly will not show up on my computer when it is plugged in. The light goes on, but nothing happens otherwise. What does this mean and how do I deal with it?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This generally means there is a problem with the hard drive, though it is possible that another component is causing the issue. I would perform some basic troubleshooting but would most likely not trust this drive moving forward.

More Detail: Today’s question is actually one that I asked myself, which is to say that I have a hard drive that is misbehaving and thought readers might benefit from learning how to address this issue.

The hard drive in question suddenly failed to show up on the computer when plugged in, even though the light on the drive lit up. I checked the Disk Utility application (on Macintosh, which would translate to Disk Management on Windows). There, I discovered that the hard drive was showing up as a device but was not mounting as a hard drive. That typically indicates that there is some sort of fault with the hard drive, but I wanted to troubleshoot to be sure.

Troubleshooting a hard drive in this type of situation involves a process of trying to isolate the source of the problem. Therefore, I used a different cable and a different port to connect the drive to my computer. I also tested the cable connection with a different hard drive to isolate the issue. My testing confirmed that all ports, cables, and hard drives were functioning normally, and that the hard drive that seemed to be misbehaving was indeed the source of the problem.

At this point I would not trust the hard drive even if it started working again. Therefore, I set the drive aside and immediately ordered another hard drive so I would have an additional backup. In this particular case the failing drive was a backup drive rather than a primary drive, so I didn’t need to restore from a backup. Instead, I just needed to add another backup drive to my collection.

Fortunately, recovering from a backup (or creating a new backup) is very easy thanks to the GoodSync software I use and recommend ( for backing up photos and other important data. I’m also grateful that I was able to get a replacement hard drive delivered quickly, so I didn’t have to wait long to create a new backup. And, of course, even with the failed drive I still had two backup copies of the source data.

Transferring Catalog for Travel


Today’s Question: I used to travel with MacBook Pro, importing to a new Lightroom Classic catalog for each trip. Back home, I would merge the catalog with the primary catalog on my desktop computer. If I travel with a copy of my master Lightroom Classic catalog, importing photos along the way, and then copy this updated catalog back to my desktop hard drive, does this sound like it might cause issues? It would allow me to still have access to the full catalog even when traveling.

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is a feasible workflow, but not something I generally recommend due to the risk involved with copying a catalog back and forth between computers. That said, if keeping the catalog permanently on an external hard drive isn’t a great solution, you can indeed (carefully!) move the catalog between computers.

More Detail: I get a little nervous when Lightroom Classic users move a catalog between computers. This is why I’ve generally recommended using a new catalog when traveling with a laptop, merging that catalog into the master catalog back at home upon return. Of course, this does involve a bit of work to merge the catalogs properly.

If you’re able to simply work from an external hard drive regardless of which computer you’re working from, that can be a more streamlined solution. You can quit Lightroom Classic and move the folder containing the catalog files to an external hard drive, and then open the catalog from that external hard drive on whichever computer you happen to be using. Performance may be a little slower, but the workflow is a bit more streamlined.

But if you are comfortable moving your catalog files back and forth between computers, and you’re very careful to make sure you always know which copy is the current copy, then it is indeed possible to move the catalog back and forth as needed.

Another option, which is the approach I’ve taken, is to simply use a laptop as your primary computer. I’ve been using a laptop exclusively, without a desktop computer, for probably more than fifteen years now. With this approach I always have my catalog (and other key files) available because I’m always working on the same computer. When I’m home I use a separate large monitor, keyboard, and mouse, so it feels like I’m at a desktop computer even though I’m using a laptop.

More Color Labels


Today’s Question: In an earlier post you mentioned that it was possible to have more than five color labels. However, there was no detail for specific application, notably Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop. Is it possible to add additional color labels to these applications?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is possible to use more than five color labels in both Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge, though in my view it is a little easier to implement in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: While color labels are represented by a color (red, yellow, green, blue, purple) in software such as Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge, in actual fact the metadata value for those labels is simply a word.

In Lightroom Classic the name of the color is used for the color labels. In Adobe Bridge workflow concepts are used instead, such as “Select” for a red color label. But when you assign a color label you’re really just adding a word to the Label field in metadata.

With Lightroom Classic you can define more than one set of color labels and switch among them as you see fit. Start by choosing Metadata > Color Label Set > Edit from the menu while in the Library module. The default values will show the name of each color for the color labels, but you can change these words to anything you’d like, such as to convey workflow status. When you create your own definitions, you can then click the Presest popup, choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset”, and enter a meaningful name for the preset you are creating.

You can then switch between your different color label definitions by going to the menu and choosing Metadata > Color Label Set, and then the name of the color label set you want to use. Note that images with a color label assigned from a different color label set will appear with a white color label, while color labels that match the current color label set will show the applicable label color.

In Adobe Bridge you can change the label definitions on the “Labels and Ratings” tab of the Preferences dialog. There isn’t an option to save the settings, so you would need to manually update them each time you want to use different words for color labels.

The primary reason to create more than one set of definitions for color labels would be to add utility and flexibility to your workflow. For example, you could define one set of color labels for use when reviewing photos to find favorites, and another set to use when preparing photos to be printed.

The topic of color labels is covered in more detail in the January 2022 issue of Pixology magazine. Pixology is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle (, but you can also sign up for a standalone subscription if you prefer. Details can be found on the GreyLearning website here:

Bit Depth Bug in Camera Raw


Today’s Question: Have you addressed the bug related to the bit depth setting in Adobe Camera Raw?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is a glitch with the latest update to Photoshop that causes the Camera Raw workflow settings to be reset to a bit depth of 8-bits per channel with Adobe RGB (1998) as the color space.

More Detail: I had not been aware of this issue, so thanks again to Mark for letting me know about it. I have confirmed this to be an issue and recommend that all photographers who process photos with Camera Raw (via Photoshop) update their workflow settings to a bit depth of 16-bits per channel and their preferred color space.

First, in Photoshop, go to the menu and choose Edit > Preferences > Camera Raw on Windows or Photoshop > Preferences > Camera Raw on Macintosh. Choose the Workflow page from the list on the left side of the Camera Raw Preferences dialog. Then, in the Color Space section toward the top of the dialog set the Depth popup to “16 Bits/Channel”. Set the Space popup to your preferred color space. I generally recommend ProPhoto RGB, but the best option will depend on your overall workflow in terms of color management.

A summary of these workflow settings is shown at the bottom-center of the Camera Raw interface. I recommend that you confirm the settings are accurate within Camera Raw, and if they’re not you can click on the summary text to bring up the Workflow options in the Camera Raw Preferences dialog. Note that if you had previously processed a raw capture in the 8-bit per channel bit depth that will still be the default for that image, and so you may want to re-process the image changing the bit depth to 16-bits per channel.

JPEG to PNG for Editing


Today’s Question: Is there an advantage to converting a JPEG image to PNG? I have some older images captured in JPEG format that occasionally I will process in either Lightroom or Photoshop to see if I can improve on the final image.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The primary advantage of the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file format compared to JPEG is that compression artifacts are not created when an image is saved as a PNG file. Therefore, I would opt for a file format other than JPEG when saving a processed copy of the image, but there’s no need to convert all existing JPEG images to a different file format if the JPEG images won’t be processed.

More Detail: One of the drawbacks of the JPEG image format is that lossy compression is used when the image is saved. That means there is always a risk of at least some degree of visible artifacts caused by the JPEG compression. For this reason, it can be advantageous to use an image format other than JPEG.

However, JPEG compression is only applied when the file is first created, or when the file is re-saved after applying adjustments. Therefore, there’s no need to convert the JPEG image to a different file format unless adjustments are being applied to the JPEG. In other words, you can keep the original files in the JPEG format, and only create a new file with a different format for images you will be editing.

The PNG file format is a perfectly good alternative to JPEG images. By default, there is only lossless compression applied to PNG images, so compression artifacts won’t be an issue. In addition, PNG files can use a bit depth higher than the 8-bit per channel maximum for JPEG images. PNG files also support transparency, though this feature is not generally meaningful for photographic images under normal circumstances.

Keep in mind that if you are using software such as Photoshop that includes special features such as layers, you’ll need to save the image in a format that supports those features if you want them preserved for future editing. That would mean saving as a Photoshop PSD or TIFF image in the context of Photoshop, for example.

Also keep in mind that if you’re using Lightroom Classic to edit a JPEG image, the source image file is not actually altered directly. Rather, the adjustments are simply metadata values. So, the original JPEG remains unaltered, and a new file will only be created if you export the image from Lightroom Classic.