Try the tips and techniques outlined in this document if Photoshop is running slower than expected on your machine
Photoshop’s 3D features will be removed in future updates. Users working with 3D are encouraged to explore Adobe’s new Substance 3D collection, which represents the next generation of 3D tools from Adobe.
Additional details on the discontinuation of Photoshop’s 3D features can be found here: Photoshop 3D | Common questions around discontinued 3D features.
Every user's setup is unique and may require a different combination of techniques to get the most efficient performance from Photoshop. From the suggestions documented in this article, consider which ones to implement within the context of your computer setup, the types of files you use, and your particular workflow. There are four primary ways to affect performance in Photoshop:
The easiest way to improve performance, without spending money, is to set your Photoshop preferences and fine-tune its features to take advantage of the way you work and the type of files you typically work with.
The most dramatic way to increase performance is by investing in faster and more powerful hardware. Your computer must meet certain minimum system requirements to run Photoshop optimally. Running Photoshop on underpowered or unsupported hardware—for example, on a computer having an incompatible graphics processor (GPU), may result in performance issues.
Watch this short video to learn how to quickly optimize performance-related preferences in Photoshop.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
For finer control, specify cache levels manually; the default value is 4.
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 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.
The best way to optimize GPU acceleration, which speeds up screen redraws, is to keep your video adapter driver up to date. For instructions on updating video adapter drivers
For more information how Photoshop leverages the graphics processor, tested cards, and minimum graphics processor and display requirements.
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.
Turning on OpenCL is likely to improve performance if you use these Photoshop features:
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.
If Photoshop cannot launch because the scratch disk is full, hold down the Cmd + Option keys (macOS) or Ctrl + Alt keys (Windows) during launch to set a new scratch disk.
A scratch disk is a hard 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 memory or RAM of your machine.
Watch the Efficiency indicator to monitor performance while you work in Photoshop. Click the pop-up menu at the bottom of the image window and choose Efficiency from the pop-up menu.
If the value in the indicator is below 100%, Photoshop has used all available RAM and is using the scratch disk, which slows performance. If the efficiency is less than 90%, allocate more RAM to Photoshop in Performance preferences. Or, add more RAM to your system.
Having rulers and overlays (such as Grids, Slices and Smart Guides) visible can slow some operations, such as painting, transform, and dragging layers on the canvas.
Very large files are often the cause of performance problems.
Photoshop supports a maximum file size of 300,000 x 300,000 pixels, except for PDF files, which are limited to 30,000 x 30,000 pixels and 200 x 200 inches, and Camera Raw, which supports images up to 65,000 pixels long or wide and up to 512 megapixels.
File size capability for Photoshop:
If you receive an “out of RAM” error message or if Photoshop is running slowly, it could be caused by having too many open images. If you have several windows open, try closing some of them.
To reduce the amount of scratch disk space Photoshop uses, minimize the number of presets you keep loaded. Patterns and brush tips are some of the largest presets. Save presets you don’t require right now to a preset file, then remove them, and only load them when you need them.
To find out more about managing presets, see Presets.
Each time you change a document, Photoshop updates all the thumbnails visible in the Layers and Channels panels. This update can affect responsiveness when you’re rapidly painting, moving, or nudging layers. The more thumbnails visible, the greater this effect.
To minimize or disable these thumbnail previews, click the Panel menu and choose Panel Options. Select a smaller thumbnail size or select None, and then click OK.
If you don’t need to work with your PSD and PSB files in older versions of Photoshop or in applications that don’t support layers, you can turn off a file compatibility feature to speed up document saving:
In Preferences > File Handling, for 16-bit and 32-bit PSD and PSB documents, select Disable Compression of PSD and PSB Files.
From the Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility menu, choose Ask or Never.
Photoshop can perform many operations on 16-bit and 32-bit images. However, these images require more memory, scratch space, and time to process than 8-bit images.
To convert your image to 8 bits per channel, choose Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel.
Converting to 8 bits per channel deletes data from your image. Save a copy of the original 16-bit or 32-bit image before you convert to 8 bits per channel.
To speed font processing in Photoshop, turn off the font preview list by choosing Type > Font Preview Size > None.
The greater the image resolution, the more memory and disk space Photoshop requires to display, process, and print an image. Depending on your final output, higher image resolution does not necessarily provide higher final image quality, but it can slow performance, use additional scratch disk space, and slow printing. The optimal resolution for your images depends on how the images will be displayed or printed.
For images presented onscreen, think in terms of total pixel dimensions. To reduce the image dimensions of an image, choose Image > Image Size. In the Image Size dialog box, make sure that the Resample option is selected. Enter a new value for the Dimensions Width or Height (entering a value for one changes both).
For printed images, increasing resolution beyond about 360 DPI brings marginal if any benefits in most cases. If you produce many prints, experiment to find a resolution that gives you pleasing results. To reduce the resolution of an image, choose Image > Image Size. In the Image Size dialog box, select Resample. Change the Width and Height values to reflect the physical size of your printed document. Then, decrease the Resolution value, and click OK.
If you are going to increase the image resolution for printing rather than decrease it, perform this resolution increase as one of your last steps before printing the image. That way, you don’t have to process all this extra information in earlier steps.
You can improve system performance by freeing up unused memory and scratch disk space from Photoshop to make it available to other programs. To do so, choose one of these options:
If other programs are actively trying to allocate or use the memory, freeing up memory in Photoshop will improve performance. Freeing up scratch disk space will be beneficial if you're out of space on a disk volume. If you free up significant memory or disk space, Photoshop will be slower the next time you open large files, while Photoshop allocates space.
If you want Photoshop to always use less memory, choose Edit > Preferences > Performance (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences > Performance (macOS) and move the Memory Usage slider to the left.
See Adjust memory usage.
Activity monitors, task managers, and disk utilities may take several seconds to register the change. In fact, for some utilities, you may need to explicitly request the update.
The contents of the clipboard are often large if you’ve been copying and pasting data within large documents. And, those contents are of little use when you’re done pasting. To free up RAM being used by image data in the clipboard, choose Edit > Purge > Clipboard.
The Purge command cannot be undone.
The Filter Gallery allows you to test one or more filters on an image before applying the effects, which can save considerable time and memory.
Dragging layers or files is more efficient than copying and pasting them. Dragging bypasses the Clipboard and transfers data directly. Copying and pasting can potentially involve more data transfer and is much less efficient.
For added speed when exporting TIFF files, do not choose ZIP compression. (ZIP compression produces the smallest TIFF files, however.)
The Export Clipboard option causes Photoshop to make the contents of the clipboard available to other programs. If you copy large amounts of data in Photoshop, but won’t paste it into other applications, save time by turning off this option:
Choose Photoshop > Preferences > General (macOS) or Edit > Preferences > General (Windows).
Deselect Export Clipboard.
From the Libraries flyout menu, choose Close.
Choose Edit > Preferences > Plug-ins.
Deselect Enable Generator.
Compositing is the process of combining multiple visual elements together into a single frame that represents your document. The internal compositor in Photoshop calculates itself thousands of times while you use the program, constantly displaying every change made to your image together as a single composite.
With the April 2022 release of Photoshop 22.3, you can now activate multithreaded compositing by going to Preferences > Performance and enabling the Multithreaded compositing checkbox. You don't need to restart Photoshop for this change to take effect.
Adjustment layers, layer masks, blending modes, filters, styles, and effects each add processing complexity to your document that can chip away at Photoshop's processing speed. You may notice various slider adjustments not updating the screen as fast as they used to before all those layers and effects were added. Multithreaded compositing helps CPU and GPU-based compositing tasks work faster by subdividing computing work into smaller parts that can be run in parallel, often faster than they could be computed in a single 'thread'.
While there are many reasons that documents might become less responsive when being worked in Photoshop, speeding up compositing between 100% and 250% with multithreaded compositing goes a long way toward ensuring Photoshop can be as responsive and fluid as it needs to be.
If you notice redrawing errors and you suspect multithreaded compositing to be an issue, you can turn the feature off in Preferences > Performance. If you have a question to ask or want to share your issue with this setting, notify us on the Adobe Photoshop community. We'd love to hear from you!
Multithreaded compositing takes the place of the earlier warning about the removal of legacy compositing which is no longer required and now has been removed.
With the April 2022 release of Photoshop 22.3, GPU compositing was added to Photoshop to improve the responsiveness of certain layer operations within a document. GPU compositing can only be used if Photoshop properly detects your GPU on startup. To confirm this, go to Preferences > Performance, and verify that your GPU is listed in the section titled Graphics Processor Setting with a checkmark next to Use Graphics Processor.
To find the checkbox to turn GPU compositing on or off, click the Advanced Settings... button.
With smaller, less complex documents containing few layers and layer-based adjustments (e.g., blending modes, adjustment layers), you may not notice any performance degradation when turning on or off blending modes or layer visibility. But as the complexity and size of your documents increases, the compositor in Photoshop can be required to do more real-time processing, and the time it takes to display the results to the screen can start to take longer. With very complex documents, you may have noticed that moving the contents of a layer or changing opacity takes a fraction of a second longer for the screen to update to show you the results. With GPU compositing enabled, Photoshop will use more of your GPU's processing power to speed up the compositing and give you a more fluid editing experience.
If you encounter unexpected results when making these layer-based edits, you can try turning off GPU compositing to see if that changes the results.