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Day 3: Optimize Photoshop for Better Performance

This chapter is a little bit different from the rest of the 29 chapters. Today we’ll not learn anything that will help our clients or improve our photographs, but we’ll learn something that’ll make us more productive. Today we’ll adjust Photoshop’s preference or optimize Photoshop so that it can run faster and smoother on anyone’s computer provided that your computer meets Photoshop’s minimum requirement to run.

Please note that this tutorial is not for you if your Photoshop is running slowly. This tutorial is written with an assumption that your Photoshop is running smoothly, and still, you want it to be faster.

The minimum requirement for Photoshop CC 2014* is listed below for both Windows and OS X.

*Data collected from


  • Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor (2 GHz or faster)
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
  • 2 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)**
  • OpenGL 2.0–capable system
  • Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.*

Mac OS

  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, v10.9, or v10.10
  • 2 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 3.2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)**
  • OpenGL 2.0–capable system
  • Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.*

Please note that the preference that I am going to use may not be best for your computer as well. It depends on the hardware your computer is using.

Before we continue, I would like to share my computer’s hardware so that you can adjust yours accordingly.

  • Processor: Intel Quad Core i7
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Graphic Car: nVidia 630M (2GB memory)

Now I am going to optimize my Photoshop. Accordingly you can adjust yours.

Open Photoshop, and go to Edit>Preferences>General or you can use shortcut Ctrl+K/Cmd+K.

There are many settings whose meaning you may not understand. This is why I will highlight the main settings so that you know where to focus on. Try to copy the settings in your Photoshop too.

3.1 General

In the screenshot, I have highlighted three settings. Try to copy them, and leave others default. Here are the explanations of the settings.

  • Image Interpolation: Based on this, Photoshop creates or deletes pixels in your image. There’s no need to go deeper into this.
  • Use Shift Key for Tool Switch: You’ll use it when you become a pro. You’ll automatically understand it once you finish this course.
  • Resize Image During Place: Leave it for now.
Fig 3.1 General


3.2 Interface

This is where you tweak the look of Photoshop.

Leave everything default, but make sure you have turned on the “Open Documents as Tabs”.

Fig 3.2 Interface

3.3 Sync Settings

Ever wondered what does CC means in Photoshop CC? CC stands for Creative Cloud. Cloud in a computer language that basically means available everywhere. This is done with the help of servers. For example, suppose you have two computers, one is a laptop, and another is desktop. If your Photoshop is connected to Adobe’s server, which automatically is if you are connected to the internet, any setting that you change in your laptop’s photoshop will automatically be reflected in desktop’s, provided that both must be connected to the internet.

This is where the current Photoshop setting i.e. Sync Setting comes into the picture. It asks you to sync which part of Photoshop. By default, everything is turned on, and I also recommend you to turn on everything if you are a beginner. Once you become an intermediate or advanced user, you’ll know which one to choose and which one to not.

Fig 3.3 Sync Settings
Fig 3.3 Sync Settings

3.4 File Handling

This is probably one of the most important section as it contains the two most important settings that is Save in Background and Automatically Save Recovery Information.

Adobe included Automatically Save Recovery Information in the recent versions of Photoshop. As the name says, you Photoshop automatically saves your file in the background in every [your choice] minutes.

I like to keep it to every 5 minutes but you can increase it up to 60 minutes. In my case, even if I forget to save my file that I am working on, Photoshop automatically saves it every 5th minute. So if my computer crashes, I don’t have to worry about my unsaved tasks. The automatically backed up file reappears as soon as I open photoshop after the crash.

Please note that this feature puts some burden on your CPU and RAM; if you have low RAM, this may affect your computer performance.

There’s one more setting that I want you to pay attention i.e. Maximize PSD and PSB compatibility. The first thing that I would like to tell is the meaning of PSD and PSB. PSD is the extension of Photoshop Files. Let me explain it to you with few examples; just like Word uses .docx, PDF uses .pdf, image uses .jpg (mostly), in the same way, Photoshop uses .psd. So if you save a Photoshop file in its native format, it will be saved as [filename].psd. Of course, Photoshop provides you a lot more options to save including JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF etc.

There’s a very subtle difference between PSD and PSB. Photoshop uses PSB when the size exceeds 2 GB, and believe me, it happens sometimes.

By maximizing PSD and PSB compatibility, you ensure that older versions of Photoshop that were launched ages ago can also open the photoshop files that are saved by your version of photoshop. But it increases the size of PSD and PSB files.

Fig 3.4 File Handling
Fig 3.4 File Handling

3.5 Performance

This is again one of the most important section. This section improves the speed of this bulky software. Almost every setting is meaningful to you. I am leaving the Cache Levels but this doesn’t mean that they are not important. They really are, but I don’t want you to touch it now. If done wrong, it severely affects the performance of Photoshop.

3.5.1 Memory Usage

This is where you define the amount of RAM Photoshop

can use. The higher, the better. Make sure that you don’t increase it to 100%. The ideal range is given below:


RAM (GB)Percentage

3.5.2 Graphics Processor Settings

This is where you define Photoshop to use your dedicated graphics card. Turn on Use Graphics Processor to improve Photoshop’s performance significantly.

3.5.3 History

  • History States: Make it 1000. The higher it is, the more undo you can do with the use of History Panel (that I’ll explain later) or with the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Z/Cmd+Opt+Z.
  • Cache Levels: I like to keep it 6, but you can set whatever you want above 2.
Fig 3.5 Performance
Fig 3.5 Performance

3.6 Units and Rulers

I skipped Scratch Disks and Cursors as there was nothing to explain in that. Even there’s not much to explain in Units and Rulers but you may get something relevant to you in this section.

In Unit’s Rulers, you can use whatever ruler you are comfortable with. If you a photographer, you can choose Inches; if you are a designer, you can choose pixels, centimeters etc.

Fig 3.6
Fig 3.6 Units & Rulers

The rest of the sections you can skip as there’s nothing to learn in them. However 3D is an important section but that’s reserved for advanced users. Even intermediate users find 3D a bit difficult.

And this is all for today.

Tomorrow I’ll teach you a new chapter that is How to Create a New Document in Photoshop.

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