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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Optimizing Photoshop

Photoshop is a powerful program, and as such, requires a tremendous amount of computing power. When working on large documents, a poorly optimized Photoshop program will mean longer processing times for your files. That’s the bad news if you have a deadline to meet. The good news is that Photoshop can be configured to run more efficiently. To optimize Photoshop, click the Edit (Win) or Photoshop (Mac) menu, point to Preferences, and then click Performance. The Performance preferences dialog box contains options that will help maximize the performance of Photoshop.

History States

History States control the number of undos available. In fact, you can have up to 1,000 undos (ever wonder who would make so many mistakes that they would need 1,000 undos?). Unfortunately, increasing the number of History States will ultimately increase the amount of RAM Photoshop uses to manage the History panel. Assigning more RAM to manage History means less memory for Photoshop to perform other operations, and will reduce the performance of the program. If you are experiencing problems with slow performance, lowering the number of History States frees up more RAM, and permits Photoshop to operate more efficiently.

Scratch Disk

When your computer doesn’t have enough RAM to perform an operation, Photoshop uses free space on any available drive, known as a Scratch Disk. Photoshop requires 5 times the working size of the file in contiguous hard drive space. For example, if the working size of your file is 100 MB, you will need 500 MB of contiguous hard drive space, or you will receive an error message: Out of Scratch Disk Space (I hate it when that happens). Using additional hard drives gives Photoshop the ability to divide the processing load and increase performance. Photoshop detects and displays all available internal disks in the Preferences dialog box. Scratch disks must be physically attached to your computer (avoid networks and removable media, such as zip drives, or rewritable CDs or DVDs). For maximum speed, avoid USB, and use 4- or 6-pin FireWire drives. Benchmark tests show FireWire drives provide up to a 20% speed improvement when used as Scratch Disks. Think of saving one hour out of every five, or one full day out of every five. That’s not too bad. For best results, select a scratch disk on a different drive than the one used for virtual memory or any large files you’re editing.

Memory & Image Cache

Photoshop functions in RAM (actually all applications work within RAM). To run efficiently, Photoshop requires 5 times the working size of the open document in available memory (some tests indicate 6 to 8 times). Strictly speaking, the more RAM you can assign to Photoshop, the more efficiently the program operates, especially when opening large documents. RAM usage is determined by the working size of the document, not its open size. As you add elements to a document, the working size of the file increases.

Cache Levels are screen redraws, or how many versions of the current active document Photoshop saves. When you’re working on large documents, more Cache Levels help speed up the redraw function, and make image manipulation proceed faster. However, they are held primarily in RAM, so the more Cache Levels you choose, the less RAM is available for other Photoshop functions. Cache Tiles are the amount of data Photoshop stores or processes at once; use a larger tile size for larger documents to speed up processing. If you’re not sure what to set, use one of the preset buttons.

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