How to Reduce Photoshop RAM Usage

Learn how to speed up your Photoshop by reducing memory usage and upgrading your hardware to support the resources hungry software.

Speed Up your Photoshop by reducing memory usage
Speed Up your Photoshop by reducing memory usage

Photoshop being a powerful software for professionals and enthusiasts to edit and manipulate images is resources hungry. It gets worse as the size of the file increases. Working on complex projects or large files leads to high RAM (Random Access Memory) usage. As a result, photoshop slows down and at times some tools become unusable. If you find yourself getting errors similar to the one below, stay tuned to know how to fix the problem. Let's get started.

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Speed Up your Photoshop

One of the options below should help you solve the Photoshop RAM usage error.

  1. The easiest way to speed up your Photoshop is by upgrading your computer's hard drive to an SSD (Solid State Drive) and adding more RAM. This is the best option if you have the funds to do so. Here are our recommended SSDs and RAM if you consider upgrading. Upgrade depending on your budget and you computer needs.

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With increased RAM and SSD, your PC will boot up faster, you will be able to transfer images from the camera to PC faster, Photoshop will load faster as well as other applications. You will edit, create, save, and output your files faster. Multitasking will be a breeze.

  1. If funds are not on your side, optimizing your Photoshop to use less memory should also help. The steps below will show how to optimize Photoshop to use less memory.

    • Open your Photoshop and head to the edit tab on the top left of the Photoshop window.

      Img 2.png

    • Under the Edit list of options, hover over the preferences, and select Performance as shown below.

      img 3.png

      This should open the preferences settings for performance. On this window, you should see the Memory Usage option.

      Img 4.png

    • My Photoshop memory usage is currently set to use 70% of my memory. To change this, use the memory usage slider to reduce the memory allocated to Photoshop. Tweak these settings with the specs of your machine in mind. In my case, I can reduce the Photoshop memory to 40% depending on the project I am working on. That number works well for me.

      If you don't know the size of your RAM, Use our tutorial on how to get more information about your RAM

      Img 5.png

    • Hit Okay when you are satisfied with the memory allocation and restart your Photoshop for the changes to take effect.

  2. Another option is to clear Cache Levels. Photoshop utilizes cache to display images quickly. The larger the images the high the cache levels should be. To access the cache levels, head over to the performance preferences as shown above.

    Img 6.png

    For small-sized images, setting the levels to 2 is enough. Large files of more than 10MB should receive 4 cache levels.

  3. Close unused Windows. When working with Photoshop, most often you will find yourself using more than one window. These windows use memory as well, and the more the windows, the more RAM will be used. Ensure you close down the windows when done with them to save memory.

  4. You can also disable Layers and Channel Previews. The same concept applies here. The more layers you have, the more memory will be used. You can disable the layers temporarily and enable them in the final result. To do so, head over to the layers panel and click on the eye(Layer visibility).

    Img 7.png

    Previews also take up on the memory. You can reduce the size of the Previews by going to the Panel Options and choosing the smaller preview size. You can get the panel option by clicking on the small menu icon at the top right corner of the layers panel.

    Img 8.png

  5. The next option is to reduce the color depth of the images to 8 Bits, when not working on a professional level. Other options include 16 Bits and 32 Bits. The higher the number the larger the file size. To reduce the mode you are working on. Head over to the Image tab on the top left of the Photoshop window and select Mode. Under the mode options, select 8-Bits.

    Img 9.png

  6. You can also reduce the number of recent fonts to be displayed. The goal is to reduce as many options that accumulate to eat up the memory as possible. To reduce the number of recent fonts displayed, open the preferences window by heading to the edit tab on the top left corner of the Photoshop window. Hover over the preferences option and select Type.

    Img 10.png

    On the window that opens, Reduce the Number of recent fonts to Display to 5. That should be more than enough.

    Img 11.png

  7. You can also reduce the size of the file to save up memory. If the project you are working on is not for professional purposes or printing, a width of 3000 pixels should be enough for day-to-day internet uses. To reduce the size of the file, open the Image tab and select Image size. From the window that opens up. change the sizes accordingly.


By implementing the techniques above, you can effectively reduce Photoshop Memory usage which will lead to improved performance and smoother editing experience. The best option is to upgrade your PC's hardware (SSD and RAM). The other options should help if you do not have the funds to upgrade your hardware. If you found the article helpful, share it and subscribe to Geekbits. That way you will be notified when we publish new tutorials such as this one.

Thank you for reading : )

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