There’s an important new feature in Lightroom 5 that you might not be taking full advantage of: Smart Previews. We’ve been using Smart Previews over the past year and there’s a big tip that I want to share with you.
About Smart Previews
First, a little bit about Smart Previews: You can create Smart Previews of your photos in Lightroom 5. Once you have the Smart Previews, you will be able to view photos in your library, even if they are not currently connected to your computer. You can even edit photos that aren’t currently connected! It’s like magic!
Once you re-connect a hard drive or storage system that contains the photos, the adjustments you made to the Smart Previews will then be applied to the original image.
Smart Previews work by creating a low resolution compressed DNG file from your original raw or JPEG photos in your Lightroom library. This all happens behind the scenes, and you may not even notice that you’re working with Smart Previews in Lightroom (except that the hard drive containing the original files isn’t connected). (For reference Adobe states that 14GB of original photos will take up about 400MB of space in Smart Previews).