14 Tricks & Tweaks to Speed Up Photoshop CS6 Performance

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Photoshop CS6 is arguably the best version of Adobe’s image manipulation app in a very long time. Her feature full and generally quite fast, but not everyone is happy with the performance on some hardware.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tweaks, tweaks, and more tricks accelerate up Photoshop. Some of these tips are collected from a Google Docs file sent on Twitter (Hey follow OSXDaily there!) and we’ve added a few comments to that tricks and also added some of our own performance recommendations. This list focused on Mac OS X, but there’s no reason the tweaks shouldn’t benefit a Windows PC either if that’s what you’re stuck with at work.

1) View the efficiency indicator – At the bottom of an open PS window, you’ll see an “Efficiency” gauge, if it drops below 100%, it means you’re using the scratch disk (hard drive) for memory and Photoshop is slowing down. Solve this by allocating more RAM or by having fewer open windows.

2) Close the unused document windows – If you are not actively using an image file, close it. Any open file can up a significant amount of memory, which can quickly cause slowdowns.

3) Lower the resolution of an image – Working with higher resolution images and files takes more resources. If you are going to save a relatively low-quality version of an image anyway, lower the image resolution to an acceptable level to get a nice speed boost.

4) Clean up history and clipboard – Edit> Clean up> All. The history feature Photoshop is useful, but it takes up lots of memory. If you don’t use it, the contents of the history and clipboard will be freed up up resources.

5) Set the drawing mode to Basic – Preferences> Performance> Graphics Processor Settings> Advanced Settings> Drawing Mode> Basic

6) Turn off animated zoom – Preferences> General> Animated zoom> Uncheck

7) Turn off Flick Panning – Preferences> General> Enabled Flick Panning> Uncheck

8) Set cache levels to 1 – Preferences> Performance> History & Cache> Cache Levels> 1, note that this can affect the quality of plugins and effects, so be careful. The default value is 4 for a reason.

9) Adjust Photoshops memory usage – Preferences> Performance> Memory Usage, the Google Doc file referenced above suggested 40%, which sounds remarkably low, but give it a try. In my experience, a higher percentage is better here, and the more memory PS has, the better it works. Rather than going with any value, it’s best to adjust it based on your physical memory capacity and individual needs.

10) Turn off anti-aliasing guides and trails – Preferences> Performance> Graphics processor settings> Advanced settings> Anti-alias guides and paths> Uncheck

11) Turn off Image previews – Preferences> File manager> File saving options> Image previews> Never save

12) Use less video RAM for 3D stuff – Preferences> 3D> Available VRAM for 3D> 30%, this is especially useful for anyone using a computer with a video card that shares VRAM with primary RAM, such as some MacBook, MacBook Air and Mac Mini models.

13) Run Photoshop in full screen – To enter full screen mode, press the “F” key on your keyboard three times and then press “TAB” to up the interface. This apparently makes panning faster, although I didn’t notice any changes.

14) Change the appearance of Photoshop CS6 – OK, so this is not an application performance tip, but customizing the CS6 appearance theme can affect your personal productivity in the same way that changing the ambient lighting and background can affect productivity. Choose a shade of gray that suits you by pressing Shift + Function + F1 or Shift + Function + F2 to make the user interface darker and lighter, or adjust the color scheme depending on the time of day.

While the tips above are Photoshop related, don’t forget to focus on OS as well. Things like closing unused apps and moving files from the desktop can make a big difference in performance as fewer resources are used for other unrelated tasks. You can do some simple tips accelerate up Macs here, and you will see them speed up too up Photoshop for machines with limited hardware.

Haven’t tried CS6 yet? The recent beta has expired, but anyone can download a free 30-day trial of CS6 directly from Adobe.

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