PhotoLibrary image browser gets very slow with more than 1000 images in a folder

I had to cull through 1273 photos today (I shoot wildlife and today was particularly good :slight_smile: ). Usually I end up with a few hundred photos in a single folder only and hadn’t noticed any issues before (I think the biggest folder before today had between 600 and 700 photos).
I have my filter set so that rejected images get filtered out, so that as soon as I reject them, they disappear from the image browser.
However, today there was a very noticeable delay between rejecting the image (by hitting 9) and the image disappearing from view. Sometimes 1 or 2 seconds, in at least one instance I even got the spinning rainbow mouse pointer.
I resorted to not filtering out the rejected images and instead do the tedious reject + cursor right method instead. While doing that, I also noticed that moving right at the end of a line (13 thumbnails in a line) to jump the first image of the next line also took longer than usual.

Anyways, maybe this could be improved in future versions.

PS: I consider this a performance bug of sorts, hence the bug tag.


PhotoLab is great for many things, but reviewing and culling images from a large shoot is not one of them. I suggest using a free tool like Faststone Image Viewer or Fastraw Viewer to cull out shots that don’t make the grade and then use PhotoLab once you’ve reduced the total number of shots to a manageable size.



Faststone is Windows.
I like FastRawViewer but you can’t look at photos side by side.
Update: FastRawViewer V2 can now compare photos 2 or 4 at a time.

I ended up getting Photo Mechanic Plus, using it to cull images while still on the card. And you can view images two at a time.

Thank you for the response, Mark.

PhotoLab does a perfectly adequate job for reviewing and culling images up to a certain number of images. Faststone seems to be Windows only, so not really an option on a Mac. I will have a look at Fastraw Viewer which does have a Mac version at least, but I wonder what else the pick and reject functions as well as the star ratings are for if not for culling images?

The odd thing is that the performance is fine for half the amount of images and at some point it becomes almost unusable. In other words, it’s not linear as it should be. On a Mac Mini with 64GB of RAM I’m certainly not running out of memory.

Personally, I use XnView(free) on Mac(m1) for everything that concerns sorting and renaming photos in numbers.

This is the point. The function is part of PhotoLab but has issues. Same story for keywords that I frequently take issue with and for which others suggest Photo Mechanic or similar.

PhotoLab, for better or worse, has a DAM. It has the same basic features that its competitors have. Either they should all be removed or some effort should be expended to make them better. I personally believe if they are removed PhotoLab will be a far less compelling product. If they were to see serious improvement (and there are many suggestions in these forums for what that means) I think it makes PhotoLab into a much better product.

I accept that the keyword functionality I wish for (equal to Lightroom Classic) does not simply fall under “improvement” (as many don’t need what I do), improved performance and ease of use, with a sprinkling of new capabilities, should, I think, be high on the priority list.

I opted for fastrawviewer on M1 pacbook pro which is very quick, cheap and very good (and customer support is first rate despite the low price). A key plus is the ability to see which shots were properly focused which, when culling large numbers of wildlife pics, is invaluable.

Dear Tom,
did you know if the comparing mode in V2 is also possible on one big screen, or only in the what they call multi window mode.

thanks a lot in advance


Do you mean full screen? I believe so. You can download a free trial and see if it works for you.


Yes you can hide all panels or go full screen and hide all panels.

Dear Mark, dear Tom

Perhaps my question was a little misleading, and yes I know about to download a trial, but at the moment it’s not so easy because I move to a new flat.
i will check it by myself next week, if all systems are running.

When I worked with FotoWare (enterprise DAM) that system was rigged to automatically create new folders when they reached 1000 files just of that reason.

Another important thing to understand. Lightroom has exactly the same problem by design and it is due to the fact that it’s integrated like Photolab PhotoLibrary now is with the RAW-converter and the need that has for high resolution previews.

In Lightroom they have a long time offered the users a compromise with four or five different setup options, some creating a lot smaller previews, to be able to cull faster but the price to pay for that will have to be payed when opening the “Developer” module because than Lightroom have to create previews with much higher resolution and that costs there too.

It is just of that reason I prefer an external DAM because a system like that can be totally optimised for speed like Photo Mechanic. It doesn’t need to compromise like software like Lightroom and now also Photolab 5, that tries to do it all. Integrated software is rarely as effective as dedicated software.

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True, but if cull in a fast application, the raw processor still has to write full size cache files…just not so many. But PhotoLab could be smart enough to not get into stubbornly rendering 1000 images while only 20 are shown in the film strip ;-)…and use a background task to decouple it from user actions and responsiveness.

Optimize speed vs. user annoyance or user happiness vs. speed? What about a middle path?

This is so obvious, even my app does that :sunglasses:

But it doesn’t do much else :rofl:

Well, in Photo Mechanic I can self decide how many images at the time I want to open in Photolab. Just open that folder, select the images, right click and chose Edit with Photolab. That part of the integration between Photolab and Photo Mechanic is pretty seamless now.

Chose the number of images that gives to best performace/convenience for just you. That’s better than “one size fits all”.

In Photolab I gladly accept the rendering time, because the high quality of the previews I get. I prefer that to the lousy preview quality I had many years in Lightroom despite chosing the highest available quality.

The well known Scott Kelby advised me once in his Lightroom bible to chose smaller previews just because the speed issues Lightroom had and still has. It’s impossible to get it all without paying a price for it.

PhotoLibrary and Lightroom’s archive are cheap solutions for people that don’t really mind if performance isn’t top notch and are OK with the time they have to spend culling and tagging in less effective tools. The others will have to look elsewhere and pay what it costs in money instead of extra time. Either PhotoLab’s PhotoLibrary or Lightrooms archive are for everyone and the ones looking for more efficient tools elsewere have to be prepared to pay some extra and often face a more steap learning curve because these tools generally needs to be configured before they can be used.