I have hundreds of images that weren't able to build a smart preview since the drive that was containing my Lightroom smart previews ran out of space. I would like to know how to find those images that don't have a smart preview. How can I do so? Thanks!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you follow the steps in the manual are you able to build smart previews? Can you perhaps edit your answer to indicate what you've looked into so far, such that people don't suggest things you've tried/read already? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2020 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ But I don't know which images had a smart preview built and which didn't, so I can't just manually select the images and then make Lightroom build a smart preview. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2020 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


You can find photos without a smart preview by using a smart collection.

Go to Library → New Smart Collection... and add a condition Has Smart Preview is false:

enter image description here

This gets you the photos that do not have a smart preview.

Then you can follow the steps from the manual to create smart previews on the fly.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, thank you so much! I already know how to create a smart preview for a particular image that I know doesn't have smart previews, but I didn't know about smart collections. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2020 at 10:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, your technique allowed me to find out that I had over 5,500 images that didn't build a smart preview. I previously thought that they also had smart previews. By the way, I actually have a catalog of about 5,700 images. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2020 at 10:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Glad to be of help. Do check if you actually need the smart preview, perhaps a regular preview is sufficient. You can Google around to see what pros and cons are. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2020 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, that's not a good use of smart previews. If you have really important images you need a back-up. There is no way around that. Smart previews might become corrupted, are low quality (as you already noticed) and are only readable by Lightroom. If you lose your images, you do not want to depend on a commercial software package like LR to be able to restore images. Storage is relatively cheap (depending on where in the world you are). I would like to urge you to consider a real backup. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2020 at 19:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.