6 Settings to Speed Up Photoshop

As a microstock photographer, efficiency is the name of the game.  There are many steps in getting your images from shoot to upload – and waiting for Photoshop shouldn’t be one of them.  Here are a few simple steps to speed up Photoshop.

Edit > Preferences > Performance

The majority of speed settings are tucked away in Edit > Preferences > Performance.

photoshop performance - speed up photoshop

Once you reach the performance settings, check out the following options.

Scratch Disk

scratch disks - speed up photoshopIf you have more than one drive on your computer, make sure your scratch disk (where Photoshop stores temporary files) isn’t on your main C: drive (where Photoshop probably runs from).  If you have several drives, make sure your cache is also not on the drive where your images are stored.  What I have done is purchase a small SSD drive and dedicate it as a temporary work drive (cache).  I have set it as the cache drive for a number of programs – making the cache read and write speeds extra speedy.  I also use this drive for temporary storage of miscellaneous files.

History States

speed up photoshop - history statesThe history states setting determines how many clicks and button presses Photoshop will remember.  If you can handle not being able to ‘step backwards’ (ctrl+alt+z) very far, you can reduce your history states.  25-50 history states is probably enough for most people.  If you are having a lot of speed problems, you could reduce this to 10 at the risk of loosing some undo power.

Cache Levels

The best cache level depends on your computer.  If you have a fast computer, set the cache level to a high amount.  As long as your computer can handle the setting, Photoshop will redraw the image (while editing) or create live previews quicker.  If your computer has a problem keeping up with your edits, pull the cache levels down.  Photoshop may draw slower by default, but you’re computer will be able to keep up to what Photoshop is asking it to do.

Cache Tile Size

CS5: If you are working on large images with few layers, put the tile size to a high amount, small images with many layers, use a low tile size amount.  This setting determines how big of a ‘chunk’ Photoshop tries to work with at a time.
CS4 and earlier: You won’t have this setting.  Instead you have to head to Applications/Adobe Photoshop CS3/Plug-Ins/Extensions/Bigger Tiles  Inside that folder you should see the Bigger Tiles Plug-in with a ‘~’ in front of the file name.  Enable the plug-in by taking out the ‘~’


speed up photoshop - ramThe RAM setting is fairly easy to understand.  Move the slider to the right and give Photoshop control of more RAM.  Don’t move it all the way to the right though, the rest of your computer needs some RAM too.  Leave at least 1GB for Windows and other programs to use.

Layer Thumbnail Previews

speed up photoshop - thumbnail sizePhotoshop shows you a little thumbnail preview of the layers you are working on.  These take processing power to create and update.  If you make the thumbnail shown smaller, or non shown at all, you will speed up Photoshop.  You can adjust the thumbnail size by going to the layers pallet (press F7 if it isn’t showing),layers pallett then click on the little arrow (menu) button, and select “Panel Options”


Restart Photoshop

That’s it.  Now restart Photoshop and your speed settings should take effect.

Adobe has also written a fairly long guide to speeding up Photoshop which you can check out here.  A long read, but worthwhile checking out if you are serious about getting the most out of the program.

Alternatively, if you like video tutorials more than text tutorials, you can check out a tutorial I created for TutorVid on Speeding up Photoshop.

Did I miss anything?  Do you have a speedy tip?

[Discussion on MicrostockGroup]

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
Posted on April 7th, 2011 in Tips / Tutorials | tags: , , ,
  • Very helpful, I’m going to integrate a lot of this.

    • boss

      +dainel padavona it does not works!!!

  • boss

    really working??

  • I have not thought about speeding up the Photoshop ever, oh great! I used to delete the temp file in my computer to speed up the overall operating system but did not think about following all these steps to speed up Photoshop. Hope it works for me, thank you so much.

  • wow very useful things you shared with us man. I really didn’t know that using other portable hard drive can faster Photoshop. Very nice set up about speed up Photoshop, lots of people works with this tool but gradually it goes slow, though pc got lots of capability to take the load. But this post made the thing so easy, so many time i had to uninstall the tool then need to install it again, this is really harmful for work. This is really awesome post.

  • WOW!!! nice work. Really great tips. Thanks you so much.

  • Great! Thank you so much for your amazing tips.