Creating and Using Smart Previews
For this article, we will use the example of a mobile hard drive that contains a number of archived picture folders. This drive will serve as our import source. To generate Smart Previews with a batch of newly imported pictures, we need to open the Import module.
From the Library module, click the Import button, located on the bottom-left portion of the window (see Figure 1). Once the Import window appears, select a folder of images from the Source panel (left side). This should generate thumbnail previews of all the photos in that folder, so that you can select the ones you’d like to import.
Figure 1 Smart Previews are most easily generated when you initially import each batch of pictures.
Once you’ve selected the pictures you want to reference in your Catalog, choose a method for importing them. At the top of the Import window (center), four import modes are listed. As you click any one of them, a brief description is displayed below the name. The one I most commonly use is the Add mode. This leaves the original files exactly where they are, and creates a reference or “pointer” in the Lightroom catalog.
To generate the appropriate previews during import, go to the File Handling panel (top right) and under Render Previews, choose 1:1. This option will take up more space on your hard drive, but will ensure that when connected to the mobile drive (in this case), Lightroom will use the highest quality preview possible for edits. Just beneath the Render Previews menu, you should see the words “Build Smart Previews” and a checkbox. Click that checkbox to make sure your Smart Previews are created, along with the 1:1 previews.
We’ll skip the other Import options this time and just click the Import button at the bottom-right part of the window. This will close the Import window and take you back to the Library module, where you will see two progress meters near the top-left portion of the window. These meters show you the progress of generating the two sets of previews we chose to include (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Once you click the Import button, you will see progress meters in the Library module, showing you how many previews and Smart Previews have been generated.