There are few things more frustrating than a slow and unresponsive computer program – except maybe when it goes unresponsive while you’re racing to meet an upcoming deadline!
While you can’t simply swear at it to make it run faster (trust me, I’ve tried), there are a few more practical things you can do to make Photoshop run faster.
Table of Contents
- Time to Upgrade Your Hardware
- 1. Upgrading Your RAM
- 2. Upgrading Your Storage Drive
- 3. Upgrading Your CPU
- Software Tweaks
- 4. Close Other Programs
- 5. Adjust Photoshop’s RAM Usage
- 6. Make Sure GPU Acceleration Is Enabled
- 7. Make Photoshop Load Faster
- A Final Word
Time to Upgrade Your Hardware
Photoshop is constantly doing tons of calculations to achieve its impressive image edits, which means that the speed of your computer hardware can have a huge impact on how fast Photoshop runs.
There are three key pieces of hardware that you can upgrade to make Photoshop run faster: your computer’s RAM, its storage drive, and its CPU.
Before we go any further, it’s important to point out that some of these upgrades are very technical and should only be attempted by advanced users who are confident in their own ability to safely upgrade their hardware. We can’t be responsible for any injury or damage that occurs!
1. Upgrading Your RAM
This is probably the easiest hardware upgrade you can perform (depending on what kind of computer you’re using). That being said, you’ll also need to know some technical details that are too complex to explain in this article, but a qualified tech support person (or your teenager, possibly) should be able to help you.
Increasing the RAM available to your system will have lots of benefits, but the biggest one is that it will reduce Photoshop’s reliance on the scratch disk. Because RAM is faster than a scratch disk, you’ll get better performance, but having a fast storage drive for use as a scratch disk is still vital (more on that in the next section).
Note: Some PC laptops and many Macs use RAM that is directly soldered to the motherboard and cannot be removed or upgraded, so be sure to check that your computer has upgradable RAM before purchasing more!
2. Upgrading Your Storage Drive
If your computer uses an old-style mechanical hard disk drive, upgrading that drive to a fast solid-state drive (SSD) will make Photoshop run much faster – and it will also make just about everything that happens on your computer faster!
You might not expect that your computer’s storage drive would have such an impact on how fast Photoshop runs, but Photoshop uses a method called a ‘scratch disk’ to store temporary data about your open files such as history states when it runs out of RAM.
The scratch disk is typically placed on your computer’s main storage drive, but you can also set Photoshop to use a different drive (or combination of drives). Setting Photoshop to use a fast SSD as its Scratch Disk will make Photoshop run much faster.
To adjust your scratch disk settings, open the Preferences window and select the Scratch Disks section. Photoshop will list all available drives that can be used as scratch disks, as well as their available space.
Select a fast drive with plenty of free space to make Photoshop run faster. Avoid using external drives and slow mechanical platter drives for scratch disks.
3. Upgrading Your CPU
Many image editors are also hardware enthusiasts who are very aware of the performance impact that your CPU can have, which makes it all the more surprising to learn that the CPU is often the least-effective hardware upgrade for Photoshop.
I don’t mean to say that upgrading your CPU is a waste of time, but your available RAM and the speed of the drive used as your scratch disk usually do a lot more to make Photoshop run faster.
Upgrading your CPU will be most noticeable if you do a lot of multi-tasking in your workflow, running multiple professional programs at the same time.
This lets you leave Photoshop chugging away in the background, applying your latest edits, while you switch programs and continue work on something else.
Hardware isn’t the only thing that is responsible for how fast Photoshop runs; your software environment can make a huge difference as well, especially if you do a lot of multi-tasking. Here are a few software tweaks.
4. Close Other Programs
If you want to minimize scratch disk usage and rely on your much faster RAM, one of the simplest things you can do is check to see if any of your other running programs are taking up too much RAM.
If you’re using Windows, you can right-click on the Start button and choose Task Manager from the popup menu.
If you’re using a Mac, open the Launchpad and select Activity Monitor.
Check to see if there are any programs that are using large amounts of RAM. Surprisingly, web browsers are often huge memory hogs, especially when you open 30+ tabs the way I tend to. Closing these programs can help increase the amount of RAM available to Photoshop, and make it run faster.
5. Adjust Photoshop’s RAM Usage
If your system is well-equipped with plenty of RAM, you might need to adjust the amount that is available to Photoshop. Typically, this setting is managed automatically and efficiently by Photoshop, but there are times when you want to allocate as much RAM as possible to Photoshop.
Open the Preferences window from the application menu on macOS or using the Edit menu on Windows, and locate the section labeled Performance.
Next, locate the section labeled Memory Usage. Photoshop will list your available RAM, as well as the ideal allocation range and the current range.
You can adjust the amount of RAM that Photoshop will use using the buttons and slider below or directly enter the amount you want to use.
I wouldn’t recommend raising the allocation amount above the upper limit of the Ideal Range setting, since you might experience issues with other aspects of your operating system, but sometimes the pre-configured amount is a bit low – especially on systems with 32 or 64GB of RAM.
6. Make Sure GPU Acceleration Is Enabled
This option is typically enabled by default, but it’s always worth a check, especially if you’ve recently upgraded your graphics card.
Open the Preferences window and select the Performance section. Next to Memory Usage, you’ll find a section labeled Graphics Processor Settings.
Make sure Photoshop is detecting the correct graphics card, and make sure that the Use Graphics Processor box is checked.
7. Make Photoshop Load Faster
If you’re finding yourself spending a long time staring at Photoshop’s splash screen as it loads, you might need to reduce the number of active fonts, brushes, and presets that you’re using.
Many popular brush presets feature large, high-resolution images, and loading 200 of them every time you open Photoshop is excessive unless you’re going to be using them all.
Try to restrict your active fonts, brushes, and presets to elements that you’re going to use on your current project, and load them as needed.
If you’re not sure where to start, Adobe has a great guide on how to use the Presets manager.
A Final Word
There are a lot of sites that promise to give you tips about how to make Photoshop run faster, but the uncomfortable truth is that a lot of the time, it costs money to accomplish any significant improvements. Whether it’s more RAM or adding a fast SSD for a scratch disk, the best way to make Photoshop run faster is to upgrade your hardware.
So if you’re really serious about making Photoshop run faster, you might have to dig into your wallet – but it’s worth it.
Enjoy your faster editing!
About Thomas Boldt
Thomas started his Photoshop career way back in 2000. After exploring Photoshop 5.5 in a high school computer lab, he developed an enduring passion for photography, design, and technology that carried him through a Bachelor of Design degree and into the wild world of tech startups.
How do I improve my Photoshop Performance? ›
Raise the memory usage – If you've added more memory to your computer, you want to make sure Photoshop knows about it. By default, Photoshop uses 70% of available RAM, but this can be adjusted! From Photoshop preferences, click on 'Performance' and then adjust the slider upward to allow Photoshop to use more RAM.Why is Photoshop very slow? ›
Ensure that your computer meets the system requirements for Photoshop. Ensure that Photoshop and your operating system are up-to-date. If your computer has multiple graphics cards, ensure that the high-performance graphics card is assigned to Photoshop instead of the Integrated Graphics or Power-Saving graphics card.Is my computer fast enough for Photoshop? ›
Adobe recommends that you use a 2 GHz or faster CPU, but if you can afford better, it's worth it. Photoshop uses the CPU for the majority of its tasks, so aim for 3 GHz or higher for best results.How to clear cache in Photoshop? ›
- In Photoshop, open the Edit menu and click Purge.
- Select All to clear all caches, or choose an individual cache to clear (Clipboard, Histories, Video Cache).
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the size and number of images you will be working with, we generally recommend a minimum of 16GB for all our systems. Memory usage in Photoshop can quickly shoot up, however, so it is important that you ensure you have enough system RAM available.How do I make Photoshop run faster in Windows 11? ›
- Time to Upgrade Your Hardware. Upgrading Your RAM. Upgrading Your Storage Drive. Upgrading Your CPU.
- Software Tweaks. Close Other Programs. Adjust Photoshop's RAM Usage. Make Sure GPU Acceleration Is Enabled. Make Photoshop Load Faster.
- A Final Word.
- Check for a Known issue in Photoshop.
- Force quit and restart Photoshop or restart your computer.
- Update Photoshop to the latest version.
- Reset Photoshop's preferences.
- Troubleshoot GPU and graphics driver.
- Keep your macOS or Windows operating system up to date.
A bad font or fonts can cause general performance issues, including crashes or hang when launching or using Photoshop. The Photoshop font cache contains the enumerated list of fonts and font features installed on the system that Photoshop can use. Deleting this font cache file will allow Photoshop to create a new one.Is RAM or CPU more important for Photoshop? ›
Photoshop is CPU-intensive, so upgrading your graphics card doesn't really do that much in terms of performance; while upgrading your RAM doesn't do much directly either, the fact that you have more memory to temporarily store data in (instead of your hard drive or SSD) means Photoshop will perform better with more and ...How much RAM does Photoshop need to run smoothly? ›
How much RAM for Photoshop is a common question asked by those who are new to the software. In general, you need a minimum of 8GB of RAM for Photoshop. However, Adobe recommends at least 16GB of RAM, while industry professionals suggest at least 32GB.
What is the fastest CPU for Photoshop? ›
The Best CPU for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom – AMD Ryzen 5900X. For the best overall performance in both Photoshop and Lightroom while keeping costs reasonable, the AMD Ryzen 5900X found in the Chillblast Photo Pro Zen Editing PC, is the processor for the job.How do you fix memory in Photoshop? ›
STEP 1. In the main menu at the top, you need to open Edit, go to Preferences, and then access the Performance tab. STEP 2. Set software memory usage to 100% of RAM by moving the slider.What hardware makes Photoshop run faster? ›
Primary Drive – OS/Software (SSD/NVMe) – Includes your operating system and the base Photoshop installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but you can also upgrade to a faster NVMe drive for a small performance benefit.Does RAM speed effect Photoshop? ›
Photoshop Benchmark Results
While not quite to the same degree as Neat Video, Photoshop can definitely see some benefit from higher frequency RAM with select CPUs.
Much of your computer's performance depends on its RAM, or random access memory. This allows your computer to perform multiple operations simultaneously, holding information in a kind of temporary memory. The more RAM you have, the more processes you'll be able to perform simultaneously.What is the max RAM for Photoshop? ›
Photoshop really likes RAM and will use as much spare memory as the settings will allow. The 32-bit Photoshop version on both Windows and Mac are subject to certain limitations in the amount of RAM that the system will allow the program to utilize (roughly 1.7-3.2GB depending on the OS and PS version).Is it better to have Photoshop on HDD or SSD? ›
When Photoshop needs to use its scratch file, the closer the speed of the scratch storage is to the speed of RAM (whch is always faster than storage), the less you should have a slowdown. Because SSDs are much closer to the speed of RAM than hard drives are, the designated Photoshop scratch volume should be an SSD.Is it better to have more RAM or faster RAM? ›
Important RAM Specs
The higher the capacity, the more data can be stored by applications. At higher capacities, more applications can run simultaneously, and games can store larger amounts of temporary data.
- Open Photoshop.
- Go to Edit > Purge > All. You can also choose to just purge the clipboard or histories if you wish.
- You'll see a pop-up window asking you to confirm your decision. Click OK.
Go to your Start menu, and select its pinned Settings shortcut. Select Power & battery within the System tab. Then click the Power mode drop-down menu to open it up. Choose a Balanced, Best power efficiency (saver), or Best performance (high) mode setting on the menu.
How do I make my computer High Performance Windows 11? ›
Choose the power mode that works for you and what you want to do on your Windows 11 PC. This lets you determine what's important to you—getting the best battery life, best performance, or a balance between the two. To change the power mode, select Start > Settings > System > Power & battery.