Optimizing Performance in Photoshop – Part 2

Photoshop UpdatesLast week we started talking about optimizing performance in Photoshop, how to make sure Photoshop runs quickly and what to look for. Today, we’ll finish the topic.

As mentioned in the last week’s post (Optimizing Performance in Photoshop), one of the important steps is to optimize your hardware. Now, let’s talk how to optimize Photoshop Preferences. This is today’s topic.

If you want to read the previous post, here’s the link for you:

Optimizing Performance in Photoshop

Let’s talk Photoshop Preferences. The preferences you set in Photoshop Preferences dialog box greatly affect how Photoshop performs. To access Photoshop Preferences, go to Edit->Preferences on Windows (Photoshop->Preferences on Mac).

Here’s the most important section in Photoshop Preferences:

Photoshop PreferencesLet’s start with Memory Usage:

The more RAM you have (the more you assign to Photoshop to be precise), the faster can Photoshop process images. The Memory Usage area in Photoshop’s Preferences tells you how much RAM can your copy of Photoshop use. Photoshop also displays the ideal range of RAM to be assigned to Photoshop.

Important!RAM displayed here is not your total RAM installed, just the RAM that is available for Photoshop. Photoshop automatically subtracts RAM used by your operating system.

By default, Photoshop uses 70% of available RAM. If you decide to change it, you will need to restart Photoshop so the changes will take effect. If you don’t run any other applications at the same time, you can increase RAM allocation to 100% (especially if you run 64 bit version of Photoshop).

Next, Scratch Disks:

This is any hard drive connected to your computer. Set your Scratch Disk to a hard drive that has plenty of space and has fast read/write speeds. Here’s an interesting information from Adobe:

Photoshop supports up to 64 exabytes of scratch disk space on up to four volumes. (An exabyte equals 1 billion GB.)

How great is that?! 🙂

Next, History & Cache:

Image Caching is important for redrawing high resolution images. Photoshop uses low resolution versions of the image to quickly update the image onscreen.

The more Cache Levels you have, the slower Photoshop will open the file but the more responsive it’s going to be later on while you work on the image. The fewer Cache Levels you have, the faster Photoshop opens the file but the slower it performs.

Setting Cache Levels for best performance:

  • Low Levels – 1 or 2 – small files and many layers (roughly 1Mpx). NOTE: Setting Cache Levels to 1 disables image caching.
  • High Levels – higher than 4 – big files (roughly 10Mpx and more). It improves performance by speeding redraw times.

Cache Tile Size – this is the amount of data that Photoshop operates on at one time. Photoshop is more efficient when working on bigger tiles but then these take longer to redraw. Operations like applying filters work faster on bigger tiles but for smaller changes (like brush strokes) work faster on smaller tiles.

History States – You can increase the performance and save scratch disk space by limiting number of states that Photoshop remembers in History Panel. Photoshop can save up to a 1,000 history states, by default it saves 20.

And finally, GPU Settings:

GPU Settings in PhotoshopPhotoshop CS5 uses your GPU (graphics card) to speed up redrawing process. If you want Photoshop to access the GPU, your video adapter needs to have a GPU that supports OpenGL. It also requires at least 128MB of RAM on a graphics card and a driver that supports OpenGL 2.0.

To optimize GPU acceleration, make sure you keep the graphics card driver up to date by visiting the card’s manufacturer’s website.

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