10 tricks to get the most out of your Adobe Photoshop performance

Photoshop recently celebrated its 26th birthday. Having now clocked up over a quarter-century, the seasoned veterans on the developer team at Adobe ensure that the image processing software works without a hitch. Basically there are four ways to improve the Photoshop performance, the world’s leading image processing and design program. Adjusting the Photoshop performance preferences and tweaking the program to suit a more personal style of work are free and simple options. Optimizing the operating system to run Photoshop also helps. Splashing out on faster and more powerful hardware is the most effective solution, albeit also the most expensive one. COMPAREX has taken  Adobe’s detailed summary to glean ten tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the Photoshop performance.

An article by the COMPAREX Editorial Team

Adjust the Photoshop performance preferences

1. Adjust cache levels

Image caching helps speed up the process of redrawing high-resolution pictures on the display. Up to eight levels can be specified for cached image data. Please note: Increasing cache levels will improve Photoshop’s responsiveness while you work, although it will take longer to load images. Three cache presets are available in the “Performance Preferences” panel:

  1. Tall and Thin (for images with smaller pixel dimensions and many layers)
  2. Big and Flat (for images with larger pixel dimensions and fewer layers) and
  3. Default

Cache levels can also be defined manually. The settings 1 and 2 are better for relatively small files (1 megapixel or 1280 x 1024 pixels) and many (50+) layers. A value higher than 4 should be selected for files with larger pixel dimensions (50 megapixels or more).

2. Adjust memory usage

Photoshop uses 70% of available RAM by default. Changing memory assignment will positively impact the Photoshop performance. The slider in the “Memory Usage” panel in the “Performance Preferences” dialogue box is dragged to change this setting. Users can get the most out of Photoshop by increasing RAM allocation to 100%, as long as no other applications are running.

 Tip: To find the ideal RAM allocation for one’s own system, it is advisable to change the settings in increments of 5% and to keep an eye on Photoshop’s performance in the Efficiency indicator.

3. Define the graphics processor (GPU) settings

GPU acceleration, which speeds up screen redraws, also offers room for improvement. The video adapter driver needs to be kept up-to-date to optimize functions. Another trick is to activate OpenCL. This technology allows applications to use the GPU and therefore improves the Blur Gallery and Video Panoramas. You will find OpenCL in the “Performance Preferences” panel under “Advanced Settings”.

Fine tune the Photoshop features

4. Adjust recovery and background save options

Photoshop keeps the “Save in Background” preference on by default. It means that work can continue even while Save and Save As commands are performed. The “Automatically Save Recovery Information” preference is available if this feature is enabled. It saves recovery information at the specified interval for each open file. In most cases this will not influence working in Photoshop. However, there may be delays when editing very big files that are much larger than available working memory (RAM).

 It is perfectly easy to resolve the issue: The preset time intervals for “Automatically Save Recovery Information” can be lengthened or deactivated entirely by going to “Preferences” and then “File Handling”. It is important to bear in mind, however, that lower values for recovery intervals provide greater protection against crashes.

5. Purge the clipboard

Purging the clipboard is always a simple but very effective way to improve the Photoshop performance. Copying and pasting large data volumes will also enlarge the contents of the clipboard. But the data is no longer needed after pasting. To free up valuable RAM, choose “Edit” and then “Purge Clipboard”.

6. Don’t export the clipboard

There are other tricks in using the clipboard: Deactivating the “Export Clipboard” option can save a lot of time when copying large amounts of data in Photoshop that is not pasted into other applications. The option is found under in the “Preferences” panel under “General”.

7. Ideal use of layers

Layers are fundamental to working in Photoshop, but they substantially increase file size and therefore redraw time. After making changes to layers, it is important to flatten them in order to reduce file size. This involves selecting the layers in the "Layers" panel and then right-clicking (Windows) or "Ctrl"-clicking (Mac OS) on “Merge Layers”. The “Flatten Image” option flattens all images in one file at the same time. It is highly advisable also to remove all empty layers.

8. Use shortcuts

Keyboard combinations help make operations that little bit faster. Newsroom will take a look at the handiest shortcuts soon. (Follow-up article  List of Shortcuts)

Optimize your operating system for Photoshop

9. Defragment the hard disk

Photoshop takes a lot longer to read a fragmented file. The solution is to defragment the hard disk.  Click here for instructions. Solid-state disks do not require defragmenting, because their performance doesn’t degrade significantly with normal levels of fragmentation.

Optimize the hardware

10. Add RAM

Quite a lot has been said about RAM. Photoshop will draw on hard-disk space (aka scratch disk) if it does not have sufficient memory to process information. Photoshop can access information in RAM much faster than in the hard disk, which is why it is important to invest in more RAM. At least 8 GB of RAM is recommended for the latest version of Photoshop.

Leipzig, 5/30/2016

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Stephanie Satgé-Kern

Stephanie Satgé-Kern

Global Alliance Manager Adobe