Setting the right performance preferences in Photoshop helps your computer run stably at the optimum speed without freezes, lags, or delays. Based on the resources available on your system, tweak these preferences to get the most out of your Photoshop experience.

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.

Photoshop performance preferences
Performance preferences in Photoshop

Adjust the memory allocated to Photoshop

You can improve performance by increasing the amount of memory/RAM allocated to Photoshop. The Memory Usage area of the Performance preferences dialog (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.

  1. Increase the RAM allocated to Photoshop by changing the value in the Let Photoshop Use box. Alternatively, adjust the Memory Usage slider.
  2. 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. 

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.

Note:

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 increase the amount of RAM to your computer. Check with your computer manufacturer for RAM specifications and compatibility.

Adjust cache levels

Cache basics

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.

Cache presets

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.

Cache levels

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.

Note:

You may not get high-quality results with some Photoshop features if you set Cache Levels to 1.

Limit history states

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 50.

To reduce that number, go to the Performance preference dialog. In the History & Cache
section, set the the number of History States to a lower value.

Set graphics processor (GPU) settings

How does Photoshop leverage the graphics processor?

If you encounter any issues working with the above features, see Graphics processor (GPU) troubleshooting.

GPU preferences

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 graphics card is detected on your system, its name and model will appear under Detectected Graphics Processor in the Graphics Processor Settings area of the Performance section.

  • If your graphics card is supported, the "Use Graphics Processor" checkbox is enable and checked by default.
  • If your graphics card is not supported, the checkbox will be grayed out and not checked by default.
  • If your graphics card is supported, and the "Use Graphics Processor" checkbox becomes unchecked, this is likely because Photoshop has detected a crash caused by a defective graphics driver or configuration. See Troubleshoot Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) and graphics driver issues.

Advanced Graphics Processor Settings

To fine-tune the card’s performance, click the Advanced Settings button. 

Adjust Drawing Mode:

  • Basic: This mode uses the least amount of graphics processor memory to run the most basic OpenGL features. Use this mode if the Normal and Advanced modes seem to be less smooth in their performance. This can happen when you routinely run other programs that occupy graphics processor memory. Select this option if you notice bad screen redraws or slower performance when using GPU-accelerated features.
  • Normal: This mode uses a large amount of graphics processor memory to support advanced OpenGL features to perform color matching, tone mapping and checkerboard blending. This frees the CPU to perform other tasks.
  • Advanced: This mode uses the graphics processor most intensively. It uses the same amount of memory as the Normal mode while enabling more advanced techniques to improve drawing performance. This setting is best when working in 3D or when working extensively with the GPU-accelerated features. If this mode seems to perform less smoothly, try switching to Normal or Basic mode.
memory-usage-3D
3D: Memory usage

Manage scratch disks

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.

See also