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How to Make Photoshop Run Faster

At nearly every stage in the Photoshop workflow, graphic designers and photographers can experience delays. Making Photoshop run faster is often a concern. From launching the app to loading images, applying effects, rendering, saving, and outputting files to clients, waiting on your computer can be a normal part of the day – but it doesn’t have to be.

If you find yourself wondering how to speed up Photoshop, then let us help! Upgrading your computer’s hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD) and maxing out your memory can speed up every step in your workflow and help you spend less time staring at spinning cursors. Read more about the benefits of an SSD.

How can memory and an SSD speed up Photoshop?

More RAM and an SSD will help you: 

  • Boot up faster
  • Transfer images from camera to computer faster
  • Load Photoshop and other applications faster
  • Load images and files faster
  • Edit and create faster
  • Save and output faster
  • Multitask faster

The role of memory in Photoshop

Everyday actions that rely on memory: Processing images, manipulating images (adding layers and effects), rendering, reverting files, running Photoshop and other applications. Learn more about memory.

Why memory is so important: Applications like Photoshop need memory (RAM) to store and quickly access data during use. Memory is also needed to access every image you're working with. Having more memory means you can handle more images at a time -- and work on everything in real time, not lag time. 

More memory also means you can save and revert files faster. Because most Photoshop files are extremely large, they consume a lot of memory. If the files try to use more memory than is available, your computer will convert (swap) them into long-term storage, which will slow down your productivity even more.

If you need a memory upgrade, try the Crucial System Scanner or Crucial System Selector. Max out your memory and experience how this increase will speed up Photoshop. If you order on Crucial.com and use one of these tools to purchase an upgrade, we guarantee compatibility – or your money back. 

A computer for graphic design.

The role of storage in Photoshop

Everyday actions that rely on storage: Booting up, opening Photoshop and other applications, loading images, saving files, rendering and manipulating media when your computer uses virtual memory (in place of memory, or as a scratch disk.)

Why an SSD is so important: Your system’s storage drive is what loads and saves every image and document you’re working on. It’s also what loads Photoshop, and it’s what your system uses to manipulate images and render when you run out of memory (a common occurrence when multitasking). 

Switching from a hard drive to an SSD in Photoshop is like moving from dial-up internet to broadband – it’s that big of a jump and the speed never lets up. That’s the power of an SSD, and it really kicks in if you frequently save incremental versions of a project. 

When you factor in ever-increasing resolution requirements, growing file sizes, and the need to save projects constantly in case clients change their mind, the ability to save and call up files quickly is a gift to yourself. It’s also a gift that keeps on giving because SSDs have no small moving parts, meaning they're less prone to failure -- and you're less likely to lose a client's files.

Crucial offers numerous SSD options for creatives looking to make Photoshop run faster. From SATA and NVMe SSDs to external SSDs, Crucial has what you need.

  • The P5 NVMe SSD: delivers impressive speeds and fierce data protection with sequential reads up to 3400MB/s.
  • The MX500 SATA SSD: built on quality, speed and security. 
  • The X8 Portable SSD: runs up to 1.8x faster than other portable SSDs and up to 7.5x faster than portable HDDs(1)

What our performance testing in Photoshop revealed

While it’s well known that more memory and faster storage speed up graphic design in general (and slow-running Photoshop in particular), we wanted to put our theory to the test and quantify the impact you might see. By testing four configurations of the same base system, we were able to isolate performance variables and assess how DRAM and SSDs impacted a typical graphic design project – creating a poster. 

Our design team took one of our finished files and created a script that delineated 72 steps that culminated in the finished poster. These steps were then turned into a script, which would allow us to remove the human element from poster assembly and look at pure component performance.

Before running the script, however, we launched six other applications and left them running in the background because we’ve found that most designers are constantly multitasking between project elements, and we wanted to simulate a real-world design scenario as realistically as possible. 

While the system we tested was an older model that was capable of installing only 16GB of memory, it provided a good baseline to assess the role memory and storage play in completing a sample workflow.

HDD, 4GB RAM

HDD, 16GB RAM

SSD, 4GB RAM

SSD, 16GB RAM

Boot up

1:34

1:36

0:53

1:07

Open 6 apps

6:03

5:24

1:32

1:28

Open 1GB Photoshop file

8:59

1:29

1:01

0:32

Run test script (72 steps)

5:05

1:28

1:42

1:32

Save Photoshop file

5:26

0:11

0:37

0:12

Revert file

5:32

0:26

0:45

0:29

Total time

32:39

10:33

6:30

5:20

Component

System

HP® Elitebook® 8460p

Processor

Intel® Core™ i5-2520M 2.50GHz

Memory

Crucial 4GB DDR3-1333

Hard drive

320GB 7200 RPM HGST Travelstar®

Solid state drive

1TB Crucial MX200

BIOS

BIOS revision F.06 (28 July 2011)

Operating system

Microsoft® Windows® 7 Pro 64-bit

Software

Adobe® Creative Cloud®

It may be that your laptop is generally running slow. It’s always best to make sure your system is running at its peak performance. Our guide on how to make a laptop faster may in turn speed up Photoshop. You may even be having the same issues with Premiere Pro

1.      MB/s speed measured as maximum sequential performance of device as measured by Crucial on a high performance desktop computer with Crystal Disk Mark (version 6.0.2 for x64). Your performance may vary. Comparative speed claims measured as maximum sequential performance of similarly situated portable SSDs, mainstream portable HDDs and mainstream USB flash drives from vertically-integrated manufacturers selling under their own brands as of June 2019.