All my photos are stored on a NAS. I edit them on one of my two laptops. The catalog is synchronized between the laptops and I only use one laptop at a time to edit photos. This model works very well as long as I am on my home network.

But can I take one of my laptops on a trip and still be able to edit photos that physically sit on the home network? What if I pre-render high res previews of all my photos? Will I be able to edit photos using only previews?

  • 1
    I think you could easily just try this out. Dec 7, 2012 at 12:06
  • I am trying this out - but right now I am traveling and my catalog is set to remove previews automatically, so I don't have any. But yes - I know this is easy to try out. Dec 7, 2012 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


No, you can't. LR will not open a file in the development module if the image is not there. You can however change keywords and other attributes.


This is now possible in the latest versions of LightRoom (version 5).

The "Smart Previews" feature allows images to be edited when the drive or network they're stored on isn't attached. My understanding is it's basically the solution you proposed (high res preview), but with the details hidden.

I use it all the time to work on images stored on an external hard drive when the drive isn't attached, and it works great.

For more information see the docs.

FWIW, Capture One also has a similar feature.


I'm guessing, as @itai mentions, that what you want to do is editing as in change exposure/constrast/colors etc. But, if you actually meant sorting/rating/tagging, you might be interested in this iPad app : PhotoSmith ( http://www.photosmithapp.com/ ). It allows you to work on your library while you're on the go, like flagging pictures to delete, which seems very useful (however redundant if you carry your laptop).

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