Photoshop provides a set of preferences (Preferences > Performance) to help you make optimum use of your computer's resources, such as memory, cache, graphics processor, displays, etc. Depending on your primary use case for using Photoshop and the types of documents you generally work with, different combinations of these settings may suit you.
Additional settings such as Scratch Disks, available on other tabs of the Preferences dialog, may also directly impact your computer's running speed and stability.
You can improve performance by increasing the amount of memory/RAM allocated to Photoshop. The Memory Usage area of the Performance preferences screen (Preferences > Performance) tells you how much RAM is available to Photoshop. It also shows the ideal Photoshop memory allocation range for your system. By default, Photoshop uses 70% of available RAM.
- Increate the RAM allocated to Photoshop by changing the value in the Let Photoshop Use box. Alternatively, adjust the Memory Usage slider.
- Restart Photoshop to enable your changes.
To find the ideal RAM allocation for your system, change it in 5% increments and monitor performance in the Efficiency indicator. See Keep an eye on the Efficiency indicator.
We don't recommend allocating more than 85% of your computer's memory to Photoshop. Doing so may affect performance by leaving no memory for other essential system applications.
If you experience out-of-RAM or out-of-memory errors in Photoshop, try increasing the amount of RAM allocated to Photoshop. However, setting the RAM allocation for Photoshop too high (>85%) could affect the performance of other running applications, making your system unstable.
The best solution to this issue is to add more RAM to your computer.
Photoshop uses image caching to speed up the redrawing of high-resolution documents while you're working on them. You can specify up to eight levels of cached image data and choose one of the four available cache tile sizes.
Increasing cache levels improves Photoshop’s responsiveness while you work, although images may take longer to load. The cache tile size determines the amount of data on which Photoshop operates at a time. Bigger tile sizes speed up complex operations, such as sharpening filters. Smaller changes, such as brush strokes, are more responsive with smaller tile sizes.
Three cache presets are available in the Performance preferences. Choose the one that matches your primary use case/purpose of using Photoshop:
- Web/UI Design: Choose this option if you use Photoshop primarily for web, app, or screen design. This option is appropriate for documents having numerous layers of low-to-medium pixel dimension assets.
- Default/Photos: Choose this option if you use Photoshop primarily to retouch or edit moderate-sized images. For example, use this option if you normally edit photos originating from your mobile or digital camera in Photoshop.
- Huge Pixel Dimensions: Choose this option if you work extensively with heavy documents in Photoshop; for example, panoramas, matte paintings, etc.
For finer control, specify cache levels manually; the default value is 4.
- If you use relatively small files—roughly 1 megapixel or 1280 by 1024 pixels—and many layers (50 or more), set Cache Levels to 1 or 2. Setting Cache Levels to 1 disables image caching; only the current screen image is cached.
- If you use files with larger pixel dimensions—say, 50 megapixels or larger—set Cache Levels higher than 4. Higher cache levels speed up redrawing.
You may not get high-quality results with some Photoshop features if you set Cache Levels to 1.
You can save scratch disk space and improve performance by limiting or reducing the number of history states Photoshop saves in the History panel. The amount of space you save varies depending on how many pixels an operation changes. For example, a history state based on a small paint stroke or a non-destructive operation, such as creating or modifying an adjustment layer, consumes little space. Applying a filter to an entire image, on the other hand, consumes much more space.
Photoshop can save up to 1,000 history states; the default number is 20. To reduce that number, go to the Performance preference dialog box, choose History & Cache > History States. In the History States pop-up menu, if necessary, drag the setting to a lower value.
A compatible graphics processor (also called a graphics card, video card, or GPU) lets you experience better performance with Photoshop and use more of its features. Also, display problems, performance issues, errors, or crashes can occur if your computer’s graphics processor or its driver is incompatible with Photoshop.
Features that won't work without a GPU
If your graphics processor is unsupported or its driver is defective, the following Photoshop features won't work:
- Perspective Warp (more info)
- Oil Paint
- Render – Flame, Picture Frame, and Tree
- Scrubby Zoom
- Birds Eye View
- Flick Panning
- Smooth Brush Resizing
Features that require a GPU for acceleration
Photoshop provides you with dedicated GPU settings in both the Performance and 3D sections in the Preferences dialog.
Settings in the Preferences > Performance section
If a suitable video card is installed on your system, it will appear in the GPU Settings area of the Performance section.
- To enable GPU acceleration, make sure that the Enable OpenGL Drawing option is selected.
- To fine-tune the card’s performance, click the Advanced Settings button and select Basic, Normal, or Advanced, matching the option with your requirements.
- Basic—Uses the least amount of GPU memory to run the most basic OpenGL features when sharing the GPU with other applications or when experiencing slow responsiveness. Select this option if you have other programs running that also use the GPU or if you notice bad screen redraws or slower performance when using GPU-accelerated features.
- Normal—Is the default setting. It uses a large amount of GPU memory to support advanced OpenGL features and should be selected if you regularly use the GPU-accelerated features in Photoshop.
- Advanced—Uses the same amount of memory as the Normal mode, but enables more advanced features to improve drawing performance. This setting is best when working in 3D or when working extensively with the GPU-accelerated features.
Note: Mode changes take effect only after Photoshop is restarted.
Settings in the Preferences > 3D section
The 3D section of the Performances dialog box contains a VRAM slider similar to the memory control located in the Performance section. Use the slider to determine the upper limit of the video RAM (VRAM) available to the Photoshop 3D engine. The total value is a percentage of the overall VRAM available. A setting of 100% will still reserve a portion of the overall VRAM for use with the operating system. Higher values will help with overall 3D performance but may compete with other GPU-enabled applications.
A scratch disk is a disk drive or SSD used for temporary storage while Photoshop is running. Photoshop uses this space to store portions of your documents and their history panel states that don’t fit in the RAM memory. Scratch files go into invisible OS-specified folders, except for non-boot volumes on Windows, at the root directory of the drive. When a non-boot drive is used as a scratch disk, the temporary files are placed in the drive’s root directory.
By default, Photoshop uses the hard drive on which the operating system is installed as the primary scratch disk.
To learn more about managing scratch disk preferences, recommended settings, and troubleshooting, see Set up scratch disks.