Speed Up Photoshop CS2 with Bigger Tiles

October 19, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

When you open an image in Photoshop (or transform or resize or basically do anything that causes Photoshop to process the image), the program processes it in small, rectangular sections — called tiles — one-by-one. The less RAM you have, the smaller the tiles it can work with (filesize-wise), meaning more tiles have to run through the processor to complete processing the entire image.

By default, Photoshop bites off tiles in chunks of 132K worth of image data at a time, at the most, regardless of how much RAM you have. If you have lots of RAM, you can get Photoshop to increase its tile size so that images are processed faster — processing four tiles would be faster than processing sixteen.

Start by opening Photoshop's Preferences dialog box and going to the Memory & Image Cache panel. Assign more RAM to the program by specifying a percentage of installed RAM it can use for image processing. If you can end up with 1GB or more of RAM devoted to Photoshop, all the better.

Then, quit Photoshop and activate the Bigger Tiles plug-in, which is installed in CS2 but disabled by default. The plug-in is here:
Adobe Photoshop CS2 > Plug-Ins > Adobe Photoshop Only > Extensions > ~Bigger Tiles

The tilde in front of the plug-in's name is to turn it off (that's how you disable plug-ins). So to turn the plug-in on, delete the tilde character. The filename of the plug-in should now be just "Bigger Tiles." If you're viewing extensions, the plug-in will actually be named Bigger Tiles.plugin.

Now start Photoshop again and try doing some processor-intensive things to an image. Since the tiles it's processing are now larger (up to 1MB or more each), the overall time to completely process an image should be noticeably faster.

But I Have Weenie RAM
If you just have 512K or so of RAM, Bigger Tiles is not going to help you. But there's one way to speed up your work that's been around a while in Photoshop: Pixel Doubling.

You can turn on the Pixel Doubling option in Photoshop's Preferences, in the Displays & Cursors panel. Now whenever you make a selection and move it around, Photoshop uses a low-res preview as you're moving it, then snaps it back into "real" res as soon as you release the mouse button. It's easier on the program and your computer processor.

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