Having created my first gigapixel panorama, I discovered that Lightroom cannot import an image that big. The error message is completely clear about that, it says:

The file is too big. (1)

Now, all my images are cataloged in Lightroom, in a single master catalog (although smaller ones are used temporarily while travelling), so this is the only place they are rated and keyworded. Also if I am looking for images, I simply use Filters in Lightroom. So, any image not cataloged in Lightroom is not likely to be seen again.

Is there a best practice to handle images that Lightroom cannot import? Some plugin maybe or some meta-indexer that can lookup in the Lightroom catalog and more?

Currently, my hack to avoid forgetting about the image was to make a scaled down version with an obvious image like HugePano_Downscaled.jpg and import that one. Hopefully I will notice the name and it will remind me that there is a high-resolution version of it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What file type is the original unimportable image? \$\endgroup\$
    – BobT
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BobT - JPEG. Apparently LR can only import images up to 512 MP and this panorama is much larger. Even as a JPEG it's 1/2 GB but I could render it as another format (TIFF and PNG are probably available but I would need to double-check). \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ LR actually has 2 image size limitations: maximum of 512 MP, and no more than 65,535 pixels for either dimension. This is pixel count, and is irrespective of file size or file format. There are different limits in terms of file size for different image formats, but I'm sure what they are. I know that 4 GiB is the size limit for TIFF files. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @scottbb - Yes, I know about the file limits. I wrote codecs for most of them back in the days! Both the dimension limit and the total megapixel count are regular occurrences with gigapixel panoramas, so I am surprised LR cannot handle them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 19:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's computationally brutally expensive to work with images that big (unless you tile it and work with portions of the image while zoomed in, work with thumbnails while zoomed out, etc.). I can understand why they wouldn't spend the effort to do so. That said, I wish Lightroom allowed you to include arbitrary files in the catalog (even file formats that it doesn't know) and use an external viewer to work with them. That way, they would all be organized in one place. \$\endgroup\$
    – dgatwood
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


Lack of support for more file types is an issue I wish Lightroom would address, at least for management if not for display and edits. I have GIF's and also some uncompressed video which has similar problems, and for video I have put together with audio tracks there are the input audio tracks I would like to keep with them.

I put mine in the same folder, and then name the folder in some way to indicate it has other items (in my case I put all such folders under a specific parent so I will be more careful with them).

The good news is that Lightroom is greedy on doing folder operations, so for example moving a folder to another drive will also move all the files inside it, whether or not they are ones in the catalog. Not just sidecar files, but any file in the folder. At least on Windows. I do not know if that's an accident or feature, but it is very handy.

And the idea of using a JPG as a placeholder of sorts, in which you can put all the metadata so you can search and sort and select, works well for keeping the items visible.

I've looked for better alternatives, but that seems to be the best bet. Especially (at least in 2015.12 on Windows) since it will manage the files during folder operations. That and press Adobe to add non-editable file support (wishlist form here).


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