How to Speed Up Photoshop

More often than not, we get the product out of the box, toss the manual, and find out the settings as we go along. It's 2019 and things should be intuitive. 

This often works, and we get by by learning the process the gear requires for you to get what you want from it. But, this can also cause a comfort zone difficult to climb out of. Photoshop works well on the first install. But with the 2019 CC release, there were some changes that I honestly haven’t gotten used to and don’t think are better than the previous release.

Colin Smith from the Photoshop Cafe takes us through some steps we can use to optimize Photoshop and get the best out of the application we use on a daily basis.

Have you ever felt like you needed to go for an eye test but you use stupid excuses like having a sock drawer to sort out to not make the appointment? These tips will get you updating your workflow and get the best out of the app.

I learned how to remove the Welcome screen and get back the smaller New Document panel. I have also increased the recent files I have to 50 instead of the default 20. I don't need to modify what space Photoshop can use as I have a new machine, but if I knew this a few months ago, I might not have bought this one. 

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15 Comments

I would start with buying a Windows PC with better GPU and more RAM.
Probably will have more effect than any other tip out there.

Ryan Stone's picture

Adobe apps run better on Mac and are generally more stable but you’ll get more hardware oomph for the same money if you build your own win box. It’s a wash for the most part.

Absolutely false. I have taught graphic design and broadcast animation using all the Adobe product on Mac computers ranging from MacBooks to the most recent 27" iMacs for the last 15yrs. I use a 7 yr old Windows PC at home with the same Adobe software. I've had nothing but crashes, strange bugs where tools won't work and it the whole Mac had to be restarted to correct it. History not seeing the most recent projects worked on, the brush tools not working in Photoshop, and of course the constant bugs and errors every time Mac releases a new OS. Yet in all these years I've maybe experienced one of these issues on my current and any past Windows machine I've used and worked on. I do digital photography and videography during Summers and weekends btw so I am a regular user. Please learn to not be an ignorant Mac fanboy and open your eyes. It does NOT run better on Mac. 100 percent false.

Well if we are going to throw around our "expertise" around. I've been using Photoshop since it first came out, before that I was using Aldus PhotoStyler which Adobe bought later on. Been doing graphic design for over 25 years and worked on both OS systems using Autodesk, Aldus, Corel, Quark and Adobe. They all had their issues on both systems. Quark had the most.

Anyways, now I work on Adobe and frankly I have not had issues for the past 15 years. The only thing I notice is Adobe's software is ram hungry, especially photoshop. Once the ram was increased, any hang ups I would have on previous projects stopped.

The only advantage between both systems is what you know and prefer. It's all about preference.

Ryan, do you realize that Macs haven't used MC6800 or PowerPC architecture in years and that macOS runs on x86-64 architecture just like a Windows PC does? The only difference that Adobe makes is when they build and compile their software is to make sure that their code ports between x86-64 and macOS (BSD UNIX derivative) without too much pain.

The only potential advantages to running Adobe applications on macOS over a PC would be if you knew about BSD specific tunings for the OS that would make Photoshop or Lightroom faster. I haven't heard of too many photographers posting tuning tips for macOS.

Ryan Stone's picture

I had no idea! Did you know PC and Mac run on completely different operating systems and have much different Open CL and hardware abstraction layers?

There is no reason Photoshop would run better on macOS than Windows. Probably the code is almost the same (For the inner parts). Mac's usually has slower GPU (Not dedicated at most), less RAM (It is really expensive), etc...
They do have better Disk performance but given enough RAM it has no real impact.

I laugh when I see comments like this. Odds are you are a Mac user that has no idea how to use a PC? Also odds are you have never actually looked at the history between Mac and Adobe. They hate each and have arguments. Once Adobe boycott Apple and didn't release their software to them because of their long standing feud. Microsoft has even taken shots at Apple by openly making ads supporting Adobe in the Apple vs Adobe saga! Just Google their long and Rocky history. I work on both machines. Each have some slight issues. But I have seen more lockups (wheel of death) on Mac, but I have seen more weirdness like non clickable items or presets having issues on PC. In the last few years it seems both systems are working about the same. They just want you to think they are superior
Stop drinking the Kool-aid.

Adobe apps run better on Mac? no LOL! 😆mabye in the 90´s!

Dominic Mann's picture

So you’re telling me that buying an entirely new, and more powerful, computer will be more effective than making a few optimization tips? Okay, got it.

shaun powell's picture

The main performance issue I have found with photoshop is that even assigning 80% of RAM to the program. It will not make use of all this. Still manages to write about 10gig to the ssd scratch disk. To work around this I create a RamDisk of about 15gig and set this to my scratch disk. Hence making use of the machines available RAM and saving life on the SSD. Only concern is if you lose power or machine dies you lose the ability to recover.

Colin is partially right about the scratch disk. The OS is going to page to disk no matter what the machine is doing. Using a dedicated SSD will be faster but you shouldn't limit it to the scratch dis. What I is I have SSD's for on my system:

- The Windows pagefile. This has been recommended by Microsoft since Windows 3.1

- The cache for CameraRaw.

- The scratch disk for Photoshop.

- The cache for Photo Mechanic.

- A dedicated 1 TB SSD to process images.

I haven't benchmarked my system but it seems fast enough for me.

GI PAMPERIEN's picture

Actually really good article with great explanations along with the tips. And, your delivery is really optimal vs the guys who... um... hey guys... um this is going to be really cool today... um..... ya..... So, thanx, Colin!

Cedric TOSONI's picture

I do not understand why the import and export of presets in the adobe cloud for example is not more intuitive to switch from one post to another with these preferences ...

EL PIC's picture

Speed of PS and error freedom is mainly based on your Ram, CPU, and Graphics Card.
There is a small influence on how you configure your PS but the differences are very minor.
The biggest difference between OS .. Mac and PC is Color display and inflated Price.