Save Photoshop files up to 20x faster with just a couple of clicks

Mar 25, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Save Photoshop files up to 20x faster with just a couple of clicks

Mar 25, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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psb_performance_feature

PSB files are Adobe’s answer to the 2GB file size limit of PSD files, the standard Photoshop Document, and something which most photographers will likely never have to deal with, but the big issue that plagues them can also apply to large or complex PSD files, too.

PSB files are something I only ever have to worry about myself when I’m making 100MP+ medium format film scans, but for professional retouchers, a 2GB document can be hit really quickly, and regularly.  One thing that’s bothered many of them for a long time is how long it takes to compress and save out those huge files.

In the days of CS5, a number of retouchers and photographers aired their concerns to Adobe, and the problem essentially boiled down to the fact that Photoshop only uses a single CPU core when compressing PSD and PSB files (this is why PSD files can also often save rather slowly once they get to around 1GB or so).

Adobe responded with a solution, of sorts, and it was the obvious solution of simply disabling compression.  In 2011, Adobe supplied the first version of a plugin and a set of instructions to do exactly this.  It was a rather involved and long winded workaround, but it fixed the problem.

The obvious drawback is that PSD and PSB files now required much more space on your hard drive, but drives are cheap, so who cares?

With compression disabled, there’s an obvious difference in save time, and when you have a habit of saving every few minutes, having to wait can slow productivity to a crawl.

speed_graph

But this is CS5, it’s old news, right?  Why are we posting this now?

Well, it turns out that not much has really changed.  In order to save file sizes, Photoshop still compresses PSD and PSB files by default in order to let you fit more on a drive, but it does it at the obvious cost of performance.

For many photographers, this won’t matter, especially if you’re not doing crazy amounts of retouching or compositing with a few dozen layers, but it is still something that pops up from time to time, and many users don’t know that Adobe have provided us with an easy way to solve this ourselves.

As of CS6, the plugin linked above is actually integrated into Photoshop itself and can be enabled and disabled at will via means of a simple check box in the File Handling section of Photoshop’s preferences.

cs6_screenshot

There it is, down near the bottom of the File Compatibility box.

It seems that Adobe thought it an important enough feature to retain as while the dialogue box might have some slight layout differences, the checkbox is still there as of the latest version of Photoshop CC.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 16.55.27

So, there you have it.  If Photoshop’s PSD & PSB file saving performance is slowing you down, and hard drive space means nothing to you, this is a quick and simple solution that makes a dramatic difference when working with large documents.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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10 responses to “Save Photoshop files up to 20x faster with just a couple of clicks”

  1. Riccardo Maria Mantero Avatar
    Riccardo Maria Mantero

    effective!

  2. Keith Avatar
    Keith

    get a faster system.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      It doesn’t matter how fast your system is if you’re working with 20GB files and Photoshop will only use one of your 8 CPU cores to compress files. :)

      1. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
        TheInconvenientRuth

        don’t feed the troll… It just makes them bigger and uglier.

  3. Riccardo Maria Mantero Avatar
    Riccardo Maria Mantero

    excellent!

  4. Daniel R. Chang Acat Avatar
    Daniel R. Chang Acat

    Grace Cárdenas Cano

  5. Theuns Verwoerd Avatar
    Theuns Verwoerd

    What kind of ludicrous compression is Adobe using? Even back when I was at University a couple of decades ago compression was faster than hard drive access.

  6. Patrick Gatling Avatar
    Patrick Gatling

    Would the increased file size due to the lack of compression make the normal operation of Photoshop slower?

    1. Nathan Rich Avatar
      Nathan Rich

      Compression doesn’t make anything faster except data transfer. For local files, compression slows things down. You have it backwards. Compressed files are slower, uncompressed are faster.

  7. Богдан Avatar
    Богдан

    save for web (export for screens) is terribly slow for multilayered files or banners (2-3 meters). laptop with intel hd graphics 520 onboard. if i build ryzen with gpu rx560 will it help?