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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 will translate into long wait times. 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, and then point to Preferences. Of the available preferences, General, Plug-ins & Scratch Disks, and Memory & Image Cache contain options that will help increase the performance of Photoshop.

General Preferences

History States control the number of undos available. In fact, you can have up to 1000 undos (ever wonder who would make so many mistakes that they would need 1000 undos?). Unfortunately, increasing the number of History States will ultimately increase the amount of RAM Photoshop uses to manage the History palette. Assigning more RAM memory to manage History means less memory for Photoshop to perform normal operations, and will reduce the performance of the program. If you are experiencing slow performance problems, lowering the number of History States frees up more RAM, and permits Photoshop to operate more efficiently.

Plug-Ins & Scratch Disks Preferences

Scratch Disks are additional hard drives assigned to Photoshop. 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 100MB, you will need 500MB of contiguous hard drive space, or you will receive an error message: Out of Scratch Disk Space (I hate it when that happens). Assigning additional hard drives gives Photoshop the ability to divide the processing load, and will increase performance. Scratch disks must be physically attached to your computer (avoid networks and removable media, such as zip drives, or rewriteable CD's). For maximum speed, avoid USB, and use 4 or 6-pin Firewire drives. Benchmark tests show Firewire drives provide up to a 20 percent 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.

Memory & Image Cache Preferences

Photoshop functions in RAM memory (actually all applications work within RAM). To run efficiently, Photoshop requires five times the working size of the open document in available memory (some tests indicate 6 to 8 times). Strictly speaking, the more RAM memory you can assign to Photoshop, the more efficient the program operates, especially when opening large document.

RAM memory usage is determined by the working size of the document, not its open size. As you work on a document, you will eventually add additional layers to separate and control elements of the image. As you add these new layers, the working size of the file increases.

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