Speed up Photoshop with these 5 performance tips

Jan 31, 2011 - 4 Comments

adobe photoshop icon Adobe Photoshop was running a bit sluggish on my Mac recently, so I set about to make the app run faster with a few tweaks. While these were done on my MacBook Pro, there’s no reason the tips wouldn’t work the same on a Windows PC running PS too.

1) Quit Other Apps
Before digging around in the Photoshop preferences, quit any other apps that you are not using. This frees up additional system resources to devote to Photoshop instead.

2) Raise the Memory Usage
More memory the better! This gave me a large speed increase:

  • From Photoshop Preferences, click on “Performance”
  • Adjust the slider upward to use more RAM, the more you can spare the merrier

A quick note regarding RAM: Computers love RAM, and so does Photoshop. If you’re a frequent Photoshop user or you do anything else that involves significant memory consumption, adding more memory to your computer is a good idea. You can read my review of upgrading a MacBook Pro to 8GB RAM if you haven’t already, or find out if you need a RAM upgrade.

3) Set Scratch Disks
If you have multiple hard drives, use them for virtual memory:

  • From the Photoshop “Performance” Preferences go to “Scratch Disks” and add your additional hard drives

This is really only relevant to those users with multiple hard drives, so those of us on laptops generally can ignore this one.

4) Adjust the Cache Levels
Most users benefit from a lower cache level:

  • Open the Photoshop Preferences and click on “Performance”
  • Set “Cache Levels” to 1

Note that if you’re working with large single layered images like a high res digital picture, setting the cache level higher will speed up performance instead. Adjust this setting based on your current usage.

5) Never Save Image Previews
Caching image previews slows things down:

  • From the Photoshop Preferences, click on “File Handling”
  • Set “Image Previews” to ‘Never Save’

This reduces Photoshops RAM and CPU usage by avoiding the image previews.

While these tips are specific to speeding up Photoshop, the tweaks may apply to other Adobe apps that have similar preference options too.

What else can I do to speed up Photoshop?
Outside of app specific tips, the other things you can do to boost nearly any apps performance are getting more RAM and upgrading to a faster hard drive for your computer. In terms of hard drives, an SSD or an SSD Hybrid drive are ideal, there are plenty on Amazon to choose from if you’re in the market.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Tips & Tricks


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  3. James says:

    Here are a few additional tips to go along with yours: http://www.thegraphicmac.com/speeding-up-photoshop-cs5

    Scratch disk and closing the Navigator Panel can be HUGE in speeding up Photoshop (on large images, anyway)

  4. Jared says:

    I always wondered about the cache levels, I figured more was better but I guess that is not always the case.

    I set PS to eat about 75% of RAM and only run it with one or two other apps open. I haven’t tried with SSD but a 7200RPM drive speeds things up quite nicely.

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