If you’ve ever used Photoshop on a Mac, you’re probably familiar with this guy. Would you like to send him packing and never see him again? If you answered yes, strap on your Photoshop helmet and get ready for the blog post of your life.
For this blog post I am using Adobe Photoshop CS5 on OS X.
Need for speed
If you’re new to Photoshop, Adobe has included a lot of helpful tools and settings to keep you from flying blind. But I know that you’re a Photoshop superstar! You don’t need any of that stuff, so let’s turn it off!
Turn off Export to Clipboard
Export to clipboard is only useful if you’re copying things from Photoshop and pasting them into other applications. Why would you do such a thing?
Go to Photoshop > Preferences > General (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) and uncheck Export to Clipboard.
Turn off Drop Shadows and Tabs
Now that you’re in the preferences pane, select Interface.
There are three dropdowns here for Standard Screen, Full Screen with Menus, and Full Screen. Set the border to None on all of them. Drop Shadows around your window just add unnecessary visual clutter and probably a small performance dip, too. We don’t need any of that noise.
This is a personal preference, but I don’t like the tabs feature in CS4, CS5, and CS6. I like to see all of my windows open at once.
Uncheck Open Documents as Tabs and uncheck Enable Floating Document Window.
File Handling Preferences
Turn off Image Previews and set Maximize PSD Compatibility to Always/Never
Now Switch over to the File Handling panel. The first thing in there is the Image Previews setting. Image previews are a thumbnail version of your file. They are useful when you’re browsing through folders in finder/explorer, but they also slow you down every time you save. Go ahead and set it to Never Save.
Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility is a dialog box that pops up the first time you save something in Photoshop. If you choose yes, it will make it easier to open your files in different versions of Photoshop, but it will also add a fair amount of bloat to your file.
If you work with other people who have different versions of Photoshop, you want to set this to Always. If you are working by yourself, set it to Never. Either way, you won’t have to see that annoying pop-up anymore.
Get more RAM
Now we come to the most important panel in the preferences window with regards to speeding up Photoshop. Select the Performance Panel, and take a look at the Memory Usage box.
RAM is the workhorse of Photoshop. If you don’t have any RAM, you’re gonna have a bad time. Drag the slider as high as you can without breaking the rest of your computer.
Use fewer History States and set Cache Levels to 1
History States allow you to go back in time and undo your mistakes. If you’re terrible at Photoshop, you probably need a lot of these. But we talked about this already. You’re a Photoshop samurai, so cut that in half.
While you’re at it, set the Cache Levels to 1. This will allow you to open your Photoshop files faster. If you set the Cache Level higher, files will open slower but Photoshop will be more responsive while editing larger files.
Buy an SSD
When Photoshop runs out of RAM, it will write to the hard disk. This is called your scratch disk. For best results, get another hard drive besides the one Photoshop is installed on.
If you can, get a solid-state drive and use that as your scratch disk. Solid-state drives are more expensive than hard disk drives, and you get less space, but the write speeds are incredibly fast.
Turn off font previews
Finally we arrive at the Type Preferences Panel. If you don’t have any idea what font you’re using, I suppose this would be useful. But let’s be honest, you’re only using Helvetica.
Set the Font Preview Size to NOTHING (uncheck it).
If you followed the steps above, Photoshop should now be running as smooth as butter. You’ll never have to see the spinning beach ball again. Do you think I missed anything? Do you want to fight about it? Let me know in the comments.