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Post Production Tips

Boost Lightroom 4 Performance by Hacking the Modules

By Pye Jirsa on September 1st 2012

Lightroom 4‘s Slow Speed and Performance

I love all of the new image processing functionality in Process 2012 in Lightroom 4. Process 2012 opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities which is what keeps us sticking to Lightroom 4 over Lightroom 3. However, Lightroom 4 unfortunately has some significant problems in regards to optimization and performance. Problems which are causing major slowdowns even on heavy duty machines.

While Adobe has acknowledged these problems to an extent, they are still claiming that these issues are only affecting a small group of users. Unfortunately, that is not what we have found. Here is the current thread on the Adobe Forums regarding this problem.

In our studio, we have installed Lightroom 4 on six different machines, each have workstation specs which include the latest i7 processors, 16GB – 64GB RAM, Dual SSD drives and 1GB+ NVIDIA dedicated video cards. Unfortunately, the problem persists on every machine, especially when using brushes.

So, we ask that if you are having issues as well, please make your voices heard. Comment below in this article, and comment on the adobe forums. We need Adobe to recognize the scope of this problem so they can dedicate the resources needed to solving it.

How to Hack the Lightroom 4 Modules to Boost Performance

This video has been taken straight from the Lightroom 4 Workflow System DVD. In this video, we are going to show you how to hack Lightroom 4s modules so that only the modules you use are actually loaded into the program. This hack will give you a minor boost in speed/performance, which will help out until Adobe resolves the overall issues with Lightroom 4. The video will instruct you on how to perform this hack on Windows machines. For Mac users, watch the video, then do the same thing by following these instructions which were added by Steve Hughes below.

NOTE: Some people have asked whether this is the same from just “unchecking” the modules in Lightroom. Yes, this is very different. Unchecking the modules simply prevents them from showing up on the Module Picker. However, they are still loaded and available from the Window Menu. This hack will prevent the modules from being loaded in the first place and will save a bit of system resources. Because of that, the unwanted modules will not be accessible from the Window Menu, you will need to add the modules back if you need to access them.

MAC USERS Right click on the LR application icon in the applications folder and select ‘ show package contents’. In there you will find a folder called ‘plugins’. Copy any modules that you don’t use into a ‘SAFE’ folder of your choosing, then delete them from the ‘plugins’ folder. You will be asked to authenticate the removal with your admin password as usual. To put them back in reverse the process, authenticating again. It worked for me, good luck. — Steve Hughes

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Article by
Post Production Pye
Managing Editor

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Wow too late.

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  2. Karol

    To Cynthia
    Here you have an article and video on ‘slr lounge’ about LR 4 and 5 performance.

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  3. Karol

    A really nice tip but LR is as slow as it was.

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  4. Hildegard

    Hi there! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the
    great information you

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  5. Cynthia

    I’m using Lightroom 4.4 on a desktop iMac; I don’t have a ton of RAM (4GB), or super duper fast processor (2.93 GHz), with 375GB of HD space left… I also backup and optimize my LR Catalog daily (unless I don’t open LR on a given day).

    Over time LR has gotten slower and slower — to the point where it’s now taking 5 – 8 seconds (no joke!?!), sometimes longer, for LR to respond to pretty much ANY command. It takes this long to respond even when simply switching from “Library” mode to “Develop” mode on a single image – regardless of whether it’s a JPG or a RAW file. Obviously this is untenable in terms of productivity and workflow.

    I have yet to try the module hacks suggested above (I will do so ASAP), but has SLR Lounge — or anyone — heard anything recently from Adobe about this issue…?? Has anyone’s experience with LR 5 been any better…??

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  6. mwcz

    I was having terrible performance in Lightroom 4.4. I followed these steps AND uninstalled Lightroom 3.6 at the same time. Not sure which one did the trick, but it’s at least 1000x faster now. :D

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  7. Tor Ivan Boine

    Diddnt work on Lightroom 5 on windows 8 64 bit. LR crashes the moment it starts to load

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  8. Teran

    I just upgraded to lightroom 4.3 a month ago and I was stunned on how ridiculously slow it operates. You would think almost a year later from when this video was posted and the hundreds of complaints on the forum, that Adobe would have their crap together with all the problems reported. I cannot efficiently run my photography business using lightroom 4 as slow as it running. I have pretty good specs on my computer too, I’m running a Mac Pro tower 5,1 2.8GHz Quad-Core, 16 GB 1066 MHz DDR3, 115 gb SSD. I didn’t have any issues with Lightroom 3, it worked perfect for me, I would like lightroom 4.3 to do the same, otherwise I may have to switch back and be refunded for Lightroom 4.

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  9. digrunteld adobe user

    The biggest problem is that this problem has NOT been addressed by ADOBE and is now inherent in LR 5 as well!! Im still stuck working LR3 and they wont be getting my money. its such a pity as there are some very cool upgrades to LR5..

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  10. Stacey Matranga

    I found this video to be very helpful.

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  11. Hyofoto

    Hmm this is strange…. I only experience sloooowww exporting times. I have a core2duo 1.86ghz MacBook Air with 128gb ssd which runs smoother than my other laptop with core2duo 2.5ghz….a 4 year old laptop…….. Never had any lag with brushes….

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  12. Dimitri Guzhenko

    because nvidia and intel sucks you faggot. go for AMD processor and ATI radeon graphics. it will blow your mind!

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    • Kurk Rouse

      Actually It’s AMD and ATI that sucks, the GTX line is not the best card for working photographers and video editors, need to use a Qudra card.

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  13. Mike Criss

    I upgraded my machine but LR4 is still slow! This is awful for someone that process thousands of time lapse images. I have 32G RAM, SSD drive, GTX570 video card. I should not be having these problems Adobe!

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  14. Jim

    If you use any of the Jeffery Friedl’s plugins you can’t do this completly or the plugins error out. You can’t move Multiple Monitors.

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  15. leo

    Thanks for this optimization tips, however, do you know any tips to remove the default develop presets?

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  16. Teresa Pople

    Thank you so much for this, it’s really made a difference, I can now use the brushes with almost no lag at all . . .Great

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  17. Luki

    I have a fast machine and lightroom 4 is so bad that i am forced to change to another software like capture one etc..

    Every time i find a little way to make it faster it slows down again after a few hours of using.
    It´s driving me and some of my collegues crazy. ADOBE please act soon, you will loose customers quicker than you may think.

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  18. -Wbs-

    I’m loosing my life sitting here in Lightroom as well!! Speed it up!!

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  19. Alberto Oscarelli

    I think Adobe Should just optimize the code…and give us an in-menu option not to display some tabs. I never use the web or book tab

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  20. GTSPhotography

    Maybe if there was a SSD drive use it will speed it up. 

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  21. Chris LeTexier

    I too have been having this issue with speed.  I thought it was my system and have done everything I can to make my computer cooler as I thought it was just over heating.  
    Followed the instructions and it worked perfectly… lets see if i can pull any more speed out of LR4.

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  22. Michael Leonard

    I followed the instructions and Lightroom wouldn’t load afterwards. Placed the modules back in their regular folder and Lightroom worked. Strange.

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  23. Nappea2

    Hey great tip. I find also installing LR4.3 using my ram as a ssd helps with the speed, and its free too.

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  24. Brandon Price

    Thanks for the tip. I didn’t notice a slow down in performance until I “upgraded” to Mountain Lion a couple weeks ago.

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  25. Mary Nash-Pyott

    am experiencing unacceptable latency between applying a brushstroke, even a small one, and the response. Also with the sliders, but i can live with that by entering values instead. I can’t live with being unable to control the brush stroke. 

    this is just to add my voice in with hopefully a rising chorus sufficient to remove adobe’s earwax. 

    i am watching the video and will report outcomes. Thank you!

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  26. Charles Uibel

    Good lord, what a lot of bloated wordiness on this page, just to have to watch a video, when you could have written the “tip” in one sentence. 

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  27. Steve O’Donnell

    LR4.3 was a little bit of improvement ( or step in the right direction ) but it’s still way to slow.  I just got a 6D and guess I’ll have to live with LR4 through this issue.  I can’t imagine having to edit a portrait session in 4 let alone an entire wedding.  Jeez!

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  28. facebook-628734522

    I tried your tip, but when I restarted Lightroom it said it had to disable a couple of plug-ins that I had loaded.  These are both Jeffrey Friedel’s plugins, one for exporting to Zenfolio and one to Facebook.  So I put the modules back in and all is well again.  I’m thinking these plugins use one of the modules I had removed, but don’t know which one.  Any ideas out there.

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  29. Jason Wall

    Also having slowdown issues…  16gig ram, 3.4 ghz 8 core machine, solid state hd.

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  30. Creactive G

    I’m having this same issue, especially when it comes to brush adjustments. Wasting my day’s away waiting for a brush stroke to go on. Thanks!

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  31. Guest

    Had to switch to the LR3 process because of the
    unusable performance degradation in ver 4. Invested in a faster Display Adapter
    and a new SSD thinking that would improve performance but there was none. I am
    looking into getting a refund on the LR product. All other CPU and GPU
    intensive apps work flawlessly on the system as it is configured.

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  32. CanPhoto

    Thanks for the tips. I was thinking about removing the Book, Slideshow, and Map modules, and I see the Location.agmodule and book_module.agmodule, but I don’t see anything called “map” in the Plugins folder. The closet thing is Location.agmodule. Will removing that remove the Map module?

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  33. Tim Nicol

    Another user of lightroom 4.2 and I’m looking at changing programs because its that frustrating.

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  34. Kimberly Siebert

    yes, I too am having major lag issues. I am so sick of Adobe telling me it’s my computer, when it ISNT.. It’s Adobe – not only with LR4 but CS6 as well. I have them optimized for their most effective performance according to all sorts of folks out in www land. But, it only helps SLIGHTLY. But, they have our money, so its NOT going to be fixed…. we’ll have to buy LR5 before it gets addressed.  Also, how to you bring the mod functioning back? just drag/drop back into the original file we pulled them from?  I hope this works! Thank you.

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  35. Pipercub

    I applied this “tweak” and it helped a little, however, what I’m seeing is LR4 eat up resources and not giving anything back. After a fresh LR4 start, it’s tying up about 600 mb of memory. Enter the develop module and adjust 3 to 5 pictures and system resources reports LR is holding on to 1.6 GB of memory resources but it won’t give any of this back, even if you let the program sit idle for minutes on end.
    Now, I discovered that if you minimize LR, and then come back to full screen, you get about 200 GB back. Insignificant. Then I discovered if I pull out of my Originals folder which has about 700 RAW files,and jump into a folder that contains just 2 jpegs… BAM! I get a full GB back on the resource monitor and LR runs like it did just after a fresh start up.
    No doubt about it, there’s something under the hood that Adobe needs to address. 

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  36. Andrea Thomas

    Thank you for this tip! I’m definitely going to give it a try!

    I have Windows 7 64 bit and 8GB RAM – and LR4 is slooooow. LR3 was great on this system, and if I change the process version back to 2010, it’s fast, but obviously that defeats the whole purpose of upgrading to LR4. Brushes and spot healing tool are almost unusable for me. I’ll comment on the Adobe forum thread, as well.

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  37. Anonymous

    Slow/sometimes VERY sluggish for me also.  Will try this hack. Have a Summer 2011 iMac i7 with 16GB RAM.  AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2048 MB Graphics card. Single monitor (27″).

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  38. Adam Jack Caldwell

    Thankyou! Lightroom 4 is running ALOT faster on my mac mini now =] 

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  39. Tam Nguyen Photography

    Yup, like Pye said, it gives you about 10-15% of speed, especially during LR 4.1 startup. Not substantial, but noticeable. 

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  40. Cedric Bariteau

    I was experiencing the same issue and I found that when I have Microsoft Outlook opened, Lightroom is noticeably slower. From what I read, it seems to be a memory bandwidth issue (not the actual size of ram but the speed/latency of it). It also seems that Outlook also does frequent (yet small) memory accesses which could explain the decrease in performance when it is running at the same time as Lightroom.

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    • Anonymous

      I don’t think it is related to outlook as we never use outlook. Also our test machines had blazing fast memory speeds. Still have the issue.

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    • Cedric Bariteau

      Agreed, however, if Lightroom doesn’t optimize the memory transfers (i.e. doing burst read, pre-fetching data), the performance could be affected by other applications which are also memory bandwidth hogs. I would be interested to see benchmarks comparing Lightroom on DDR2 vs DDR3 systems and on systems with normal memory vs low lantency memory.

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    • Anonymous

      Yeah, there is far too much that Lightroom should be doing as far as utilizing system resources that it currently isn’t. Hopefully this will change.

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  41. Stephen Johnson

    I’ve experienced lack luster performance as well and I’m currently running with server class specs.

    Here are the hardware settings:
    1: Lenovo D20 – X5690 Xeon to 3.47ghz, 400gb SAS as Boot + APP Drive, 3 raid 0 disks (3 x 1.0TB) for scratch disk ONLY, 24gb ram,
    nvidia quadro 6000 6GB dedicated RAM, win7 x64 professional

    Adobe, please get your act together and fix the performance hiccups we are experiencing.  Slow load from image to image even after 1:1 Renders have been completed, brush takes forever to use amd slow transition after modifying in the develop module and brushes.

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  42. nazir

    It is killing me when i export, import, edit my Raw images,  i used to think its a problem with my computer but now i know its an Adobe problem,

    Thanks a lot for the help with hack:

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  43. M Rauhs

    hi! how much performance (how faster) will this hack do? you say a little bit… but how much is a little bit in %?

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    • Pye

      Various on computer/user. We saw an average of 10% less resource usage with the hack. So, it’s definitely not mind blowing, it is just a “little” help. 

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  44. Alfredo

    Anyone else get errors when LR loads up after moving the unneeded modules?  I do.  I didn’t delete anything, just moved the unused modules to another folder as in the video tutorial.  I am running LR 4.2 RC2.

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    • Pye

      If you have Lightroom default loading a module on start that is no longer available, it will give you an error. Just select a different module, close and re-open

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  45. Guest

    Lightroom 4.X still slow? Here’s how to get REAL speed until Adobe gets their act together: &

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    Working with brushes in LR is a real pain in the A. And I’ve got a brand new i7 iMac with 12GB RAM.
    Photoshop with dozens of layers and smart objects runs smoother.

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  47. Signcheryl

    I noticed a significant slow down minutes after upgrading from LR3 to LR4 – I am very unhappy as it is affecting my workflow significantly.  Will definitely think more before any new upgrades.  Hoping Adobe address the issue and realizes that it is a very REAL PROBLEM.

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  48. Daniel Kg

    Do you  really need to hack it like that? In lightroom 4 you can just hover over modules bar than right click and disable unwanted modules by unticking them from the list. Not sure if you get same results.

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    • Pye

      Yeah, its different Daniel, check out that note in the article. 

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  49. Ryan Siemers

    I am having major slow downs… especially since installing Mountain Lion. I thought it was simply because my library lives for the most part on my Drobo. 

    But I have noticed major slow downs specifically when using the brushes… I actually experience a graphic glitch where my curser will disappear at times when I move from my image over to any of the tool bars or panels. I can’t escape out of it, all the keyboard commands seem to function, but I have to go to another application, then come back to light room to get it to restore (but there’s no guarantee that works 100% of the time).

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  50. Ravenlost

    About 6, 7 months I bought LR3…. and then LR4 came up. A good upgrade a thought…. I hate it! My biggest disappointment is that I converted all my LR3 catalogs to LR4 and cannot roll back now! It is a killer in processing time! Also thought to myself “perhaps time for a HW upgrade…” but then again, seeing all the high end computers out there with the same slowness problems…  I ain’t touching anything for now :(

    Lightroom version: 4.1 [829322]
    Operating system: Windows 7 Ultimate EditionPhysical processor count: 4Processor speed: 1.1 GHzBuilt-in memory: 3765.8 MB

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  51. Redkat

    I have spent more than 70 hours with Adobe help desk (online and by phone) trying to fix the slow down that is drastic enough that it crashes. I’ve lost count of the number of “fixes” their help desk runs me through, including a complete OS re-install. I too am running a i7 and 1TB ram 1GB+ NVIDIA dedicated video cards. No reason why LR4 should crash multiple times each day. My processing time had quadrupled.

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    • Pye

      Don’t worry, this is an issue with the software itself. My main workstation has the latest i7 extreme, 64GB ram, dual 512 SSDs and 3GB Nvidia GTX video card. I still get slow downs. This is something Adobe needs to address. This hack will free up a little extra resources though, should improve things a bit. 

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  52. Busyme

    On a Mac, here . . . it doesn’t show a ‘map’ module.  Is it named something else?  It’s the only one I haven’t been able to get rid of.  :)

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  53. Nirlandau

    I love lr4 it’s much better than the previous BUT since I got it I think I doubled the time I’m sitting in front of the computer, I’m a wedding photographer and I shoot a lot, I also have a 10 months baby and I want to spend more time with her… the beginning I bought more Ram and nothing changed. Hopefully adobe will do something about it…..

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  54. Jefpare

    Changed my machine because LR3 was a beach ball paradise. Upgraded to LR4 and guess what…. theeeerrreee back. Was the development name poltergeist?

    Look over there, is that Dxo just passing us?

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  55. BeverlyEverson

    LR 4 is my first significant experience with Lightroom but it is very slow!!! 

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  56. Jay Medeiros

    It’s hard for me to see how not loading a few modules that aren’t even being used will noticeably boost performance. What benchmarks were used to determine the boost in performance? 

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    • Pye

      Check your system memory Jay. By not loading these modules, it is using less system memory to load/use the application. Just because you aren’t using the modules, doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking up resources. 

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    • Jay Medeiros

      I have 16GB, I would hardly notice

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  57. JE

    Oh thank goodness for this post!! I have been so frustrated using the develop module and was assuming it was my hardware. Will try your suggestion and hope I see an improvement. Thanks!! :-)

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  58. esubi

    Same here. I don’t really process tons of images but ever since I upgraded to LR4, it’s been taking much longer to process my images in the Develop module. So yeah, you’re definitely not the only one experiencing this.

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  59. Louise Houmøller Olesen

    I experience the same on both my iMac and my old Macbook – just thought my computers were getting old, so I am actually happy to hear, that I am not the only one! I usually restart LR and/or my computer several times a day in order to make it run a bit faster. Even after reformatting my macbook and only installing a few vital programs, it still runs very slow. thanks for bringing this issue up!

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  60. Dion V

    Interesting tip. Prior to watching this video I was running LR4.1 and Task Manager was showing about 732MB of usage. After removing the modules I do not use, I am showing about 450MB of usage. Will it be faster…dunno yet. We’ll see.

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  61. Joost de Wolf / JdW Fotografie

    Wow, the best LR 4 tips ever!

    With 16Gb RAM, I7 and Dual SSD drives i have the same problems.
    LR 3 was really faster then LR 4.
    It frustrated me when I must go through many images.

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