Why is Photoshop Running Slow? Tricks to Speed Up in 2022

Why is Photoshop Running Slow? Tricks to Speed Up in 2022

  • Photoshop
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • why is photoshop running slow

It can be quite frustrating when your workspace is not loading on Photoshop or your cursor turns into a rotating wheel because of Photoshop lagging. You may be wondering why Photoshop is running slow when it happens. There can be many reasons for this lag.

The most common reason for Photoshop being slow is that too much RAM is being occupied in your computer. Ending the unused apps can provide more free spaces in the RAM, and thereby increase the processing power of the computer.

It does not matter how much you loathe your computer or Photoshop, the problems can often arise from the incorrect settings or preferences you have used.

But nothing to be worried about too much, since these problems often can be solved with some quick and easy fixes. Go through the list below to know the reasons why Photoshop is running slow and how to fix them.

6 Ways To Fix Brush Lag In Photoshop

1. Turn Off Smoothing

Brush Smoothing settings are a great way to make sure the brush strokes are smooth and clean, rather than bumpy and uneven. The brush smoothing helps even out any imperfections in your strokes that happen naturally. Unfortunately, the higher you set the percentage of brush smoothing, the more the brush tends to lag.

If the lag is bothering you, you can decrease your smoothing percentage or turn off brush smoothing entirely, which will decrease the amount of lag. You can alter your smoothing settings by first activating the brush tool (B). Next, click the drop-down arrow in the options bar to decrease the percentage of smoothing, or set it to 0%.

If you still notice a lag, click the gear icon and uncheck all the smoothing options. That will get rid of all smoothing settings and make the brush less laggy.

2. Remove Custom Brush Settings

In addition to smoothing, there may be other brush settings causing your brush to lag. To see what issues may be at play, head to Window > Brush Settings to access the Brush Panel.

In the Brush Settings tab, first, uncheck as many settings as you can. Leave the ones you need, but the fewer settings checked, the less the brush tool is being altered as you use it.

You can also decrease the brush spacing in this same tab. Brush spacing is the amount of space between each brush mark in a stroke. Less space creates a smoother stroke, but can often add a bit of lag as the system must work harder to maintain a steady stroke.

In the Brush Spacing area, you’ll notice that Photoshop automatically sets brush spacing to 25%, which creates a smooth enough stroke in most instances. You can increase the brush spacing by dragging the toggle arrow up, but keep in mind that bigger brush spacing will create some pixelation in the stroke. Below, you’ll notice the difference between the lines with 25% spacing and 45% using a square brush.

3. Turn Off Rulers

Turning off rulers seems to work well in speeding up the brush as it is one less thing for the program to work on. Head to View > Rulers and turn the ruler off by clicking on it, the checkmark indicates when the ruler is switched on. You can also toggle rulers by using Control + R (Win) or Command + R (Mac).

Now, you’ll notice the rulers are gone from your workspace. Follow the same steps to turn them back on again if you need them.

4. Reduce File Size

If the file size of the project you’re working on is too big, the tools may work slower, including the brush tool. There are a few things you can do to decrease the size of your project and with it, the amount of lag when you’re drawing with the brush.

To start, head to Image > Image Size.

In the window that appears, you should change the resolution if it is unnecessarily high. For most projects, especially if they’re only meant for screen and not print, 72 pixels/inch is the standard resolution. A low enough resolution will free up memory and help reduce the file size.

Another way to reduce file size is to optimize your layers. Working with many different layers tends to slow Photoshop down as it requires more processing power and creates a larger file.

To reduce the size of the document due to the layers, you can merge any layers you’ve finished working on by heading to Layer > Merge Down or Merge Visible. Using Layer > Flatten Image also works similarly by flattening all the layers into one.

Alternatively, you can convert a finished layer to a Smart Object at Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object.

All of these methods will help you reduce the file size of your project, reduce the load on your computer, and ultimately help with brush lag.

5. Optimize Photoshop

Sometimes, Photoshop’s preferences may be set up a certain way that causes the program to run slower, thus creating lag. To check out some of the settings that may be causing the lag, head to Photoshop > Preferences > Performance.

There are several settings you can adjust in the Performance window that might speed things up. To start, you can allow Photoshop to take up more of your computer’s memory by navigating to the Memory Usage area. Unless you’ve changed this before, it will automatically be set to the recommended 70%. You can increase this to allow Photoshop to use more of your computer’s RAM.

However, increasing the amount of RAM Photoshop uses might make other programs run slower while Photoshop is open.

Another way to potentially improve the program’s performance is to reset each of the relevant preferences by turning them off and on, one by one.

Start by unchecking the Graphics Processor. Then, if things are still running slow, you can head to Advanced Settings.

In the pop-up, uncheck the OpenCL, Anti-alias, and 30 Bit Display settings. You can uncheck them all at once, or one at a time if you’d like to figure out exactly which one might be the issue.

Keep in mind you’ll have to restart Photoshop for these changes to come into effect.

6. Optimize Your Computer

If your computer’s CPU is slow, your brush is likely to lag no matter what you do. You can free up some CPU by closing programs running in the background when you use Photoshop. You can also turn off Bluetooth and, if possible, wifi.

If you’re still having issues, you might want to check that your device isn’t on low-power mode or battery optimization mode. Most devices allow you to turn this setting on and off in the battery area. Turning it off will allow your device to run normally instead of at a reduced performance level. Remember to keep your device charging so you don’t lose your work.

Since many different factors can affect brush lag and the speed of Photoshop, it may take a few tries to figure out what is causing your brush lag. Optimizing different settings will not only make drawing and painting more effortless, but it will help Photoshop run better overall.

Disable Export Clipboard

By default, Photoshop keeps your clipboard full with data in case you want to copy something to another software. If you don’t tend to do that in your workflow, you can disable that clipboard exporting and save some memory.

Do do that step, go to the General tab under the Photoshop preferences and uncheck the Export Clipboard option.

Turning off the Export Clipboard option

Custom Preferences

There are several preference options that Photoshop uses to enhance the user workflow and experience. Sometimes, these preferences end up doing more harm than good.

There are several options you could switch around in Photoshop to make it faster.

Disable Export Clipboard

By default, Photoshop keeps your clipboard full of data in case you would want to paste something into other projects.

If you don’t intend to keep the data saved on your clipboard you can disable this default setting by hovering over Edit > Preferences > General > Untick Export Clipboard.

Increase Maximum RAM Usage

Photoshop has a setting that limits the RAM it uses to not override your computer.

You can tweak this setting to let Photoshop use more of your RAM making it faster. To do this, go to the Performance tab in your Photoshop Preferences, over here you will see your memory usage.

You can drag the slider to increase or decrease the RAM usage however it is highly recommended you don’t go over 85% as it could cause issues with your computer.

Purge the History

When working on a project, Photoshop keeps a saved data of all the actions you perform to undo, edit and use the clipboard for a better workflow.

This data starts to get pretty big pretty fast and starts eating up your RAM, making Photoshop slow down and laggy.

A simple fix is to go to Edit > Purge > All to delete all the saved data.

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  • Operating System Fixes/Changes

    These are changes made at the operating system level to potentially get Photoshop to run faster. You can get a surprising amount of performance from optimizing the applications running on your PC.

    1. Close Background Programs

    This is a common issue that can cause slow-downs: Background programs that hog your resources.

    2. Give Photoshop Higher Process Priority

    Giving Photoshop higher process priority basically means that you’re telling your PC that Photoshop is an important application and that it should get the first share of the pie (PC resources), even at the potential detriment of other applications.

    This is especially important for Photoshop because process priority mainly determines CPU resource distribution, and the CPU is the most important component for Photoshop brush performance.

    It’s important to understand that this isn’t free performance, though. You’re simply depriving some other application of CPU resources by giving it to Photoshop.

    Most of the time, this is fine. But if you have some CPU-critical application running in the background, you might want to give it a higher priority as well.

    Now that the preamble is out of the way let me show you how to actually do it.

    Firstly, open up Task Manager. You can do this by simply pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

    Next, open up Photoshop and create/open a project.

    After that, expand the Photoshop application in Task Manager by clicking the little right facing arrow next to its name and right-click on the project that you created/opened. Then just click “Go to details.”

    1. Turn off Photoshop brush smoothing

    The introduction of the brush smoothing algorithm to Photoshop CC 2018 and later allowed users to get a more polished look, with cleaner lines when using the brush tool. However, since then many users found that their photoshop brush appeared to slow down and lag.

    If this is the case, you can usually get rid of the slow photoshop brush by turning the smoothing down to 0%. If you’re photoshop brush is still being slow even at 0% smoothing then it also may be worth unticking all the smoothing options which can be found in the drop-down menu when you click on the gear icon next to the smoothing percentage.

    Fix Lag on Photoshop in Windows 11


    Photoshop Preferences

    After launching Photoshop, navigate to Edit, Preferences, and then General, or simply use the shortcut CTRL & K.

    On this window, under Performance, make sure to allocate more memory for Photoshop to use. You can preview your available RAM on the top here. Your ideal range below, and then you can choose how much memory Photoshop is allowed to utilise below. Set this value to around 80% of your available memory. For users with 16GB of RAM or more, make sure to set this to around 12GB, which should be more than enough.

    Under Graphics Processor Settings, make sure to check the Use Graphics Processor option. Below, under History & Cache, make sure to set the History States option to around 10. This will determine how many times you can undo your action. Reducing this option can greatly increase your Photoshop performance and fix lag.

    Under Scratch Disks, make sure to check your C: and D: drive and then you can close your Photoshop settings. You should also prevent having too many different Photoshop projects open at the same time.

    Task Manager

    Next, I suggest preventing resource intensive apps from running on your PC while using Photoshop. Right-click your start icon and select Task Manager.

    In the Processes tab, end applications from running which could use up your available resources, such as Google Chrome, Steam, Skype or other Creative Cloud apps. Make sure to only end processes which you know won’t break your operating system.

    Update Photoshop

    When this is done, open up your Creative Cloud application. Here, in the Updates tab, make sure that your Photoshop application is up to date. If this is not the case, then click on Update and the application will take a few minutes to download and install the latest update.

    Update Windows

    Next, you should make sure that your Windows operating system and graphics driver is up to date. Search for Update in your Start Menu search and select Check for Updates.

    In your system settings, click on Check for updates, Download or Install now. When the download is completed, simply restart your system to install the latest Windows update.

    Device Manager

    Lastly, make sure that your graphics driver is up to date. Open up your Device Manager.

    On this window, expand your Display Adapters. Right-click your Graphics Card and select Update Driver. Make sure to Search automatically for drivers.

    GeForce Experience

    For NVIDIA GPU users, I recommend making use of the GeForce Experience application.

    In the Drivers tab, click on Download. This will automatically download and install the latest GPU drivers and should fix lag issues with Photoshop on your PC.

    Reasons for Photoshop Brush Lagging and How to Fix them

    Your photoshop brush can lag due to the following reasons:

    1. Large file size
    2. The smoothing setting of the brush
    3. low photoshop brush spacing
    4. Un-optimized photoshop performance
    5. Low device performance

    1.Large File size

    You could be working on a large image with different layers, which can take up memory, causing the brush to lag during photo editing. Below are the fixes you can apply.

    How to fix it

    Lower the image resolution- Minimizing image resolution will free memory space, and it can be done by choosing Image>Image size and then choose a lower resolution.

    Merge or flatten the number of working layers– When you finish editing, merge different layers or flatten them to free up some space. This you can do by choosing Layer>Merge down or flatten the image.

    Converting the layers to smart objects– If you are not changing from different layers, converting them into smart objects can help free space and reduce lag.

    Use multiple PSD files to save images– If you have images with several layers, you could break the image into smaller portions and save each piece into its distinct file, then add them up after the final edit.

    2. The Smoothing Setting of The Brush

    The new brush smoothing algorithm provides users with added polished look and cleaner lines. However, the upgrade comes with a photoshop brush that appears to lag or slow down.

    How to fix it

    If your photoshop brush is lagging due to the smoothing settings, you can reduce the smoothing using the slider or set a percentage in the Options bar at the top. You can also unmark all smoothing options found by clicking the icon next to smoothing.

    3. Lower Photoshop Brush Spacing

    The brush spacing is often set at a default size of 25%; however, you may have lowered the spacing further to achieve a smoother line as you draw with the brush. A lower spacing increases the chances of the brush lagging.

    How to fix it

    You can alter the photoshop brush spacing on the brushes panel Window>brushes, then increase the spacing for better brush functions.

    4. Un-optimized Photoshop Performance

    Photoshop software itself can also cause problems, causing brush lagging.

    How to optimize photoshop perfomance

    You can optimize your photoshop performance in several ways.

    Optimize the amount of memory allocated to the software– You could provide additional device memory/RAM to photoshop to improve its performance. While on photoshop, choose Edit>Preference>Performance and then edit your memory usage.

    Reduce the cache levels– As you draw, photoshop often uses image caching. Higher cache tile sizes mean improved photos from photoshop; however, the images will take longer to load. Since using a brush tool requires only smaller changes, a smaller cache will be enough.

    Adjust the Graphics Processor Setting– If the rate at which your photoshop screen redraws during an edit is slow, then your brush tool may also slow down or appear to be lagging. You could change the GPU settings to enhance the brush tool performance. Go to the Preference Settings>Performance>Advance> choose (basic, normal, or advanced). The basic mode uses the smallest amount of GPU memory, often used when running other programs competing for GPU memory. Normal is the default setting, while advanced has more features for enhanced performance.

    Manage the Scratch Disks– You can choose to have your Photoshop scratch disks on an external hard drive, thus using it as a default scratch disk. This would provide more space for the software if your device is running low on space. To make an external drive photoshop scratch disk, go to Edit>Preferences>Scratch disks to change to a hard drive you intend to use.

    5. Low Device Performance

    Your device may also cause your photoshop to brush lagging due to slow drivers, high CPU usage and even your power mode.

    How to fix it

    The fix will depend on the device’s likely cause and the type of the device.

    Update the device drivers– For those using Photoshop on a tablet, updating or reinstalling the drivers would correct the brush lagging problem.

    Free up CPU– Limited CPU space can cause brush tool lagging. This often happens when you run several programs at once. You can free up CPU storage by closing any browsers or programs you do not use, including those running in the background.

    Change the device power mode– If the device you are using is on power save mode, it can lag the performance of your brush tool. You can correct this by removing “save my battery” to “performance mode.”

    If your computer has less than the recommended Photoshop specifications, this may be the cause of the lagging. If you want photoshop to run better you may need to dig into your pockets and get a faster computer.

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