Photoshop Memory Problems Solved

Photoshop Memory Problems SolvedRecently a couple of customers have asked about memory related issues with Photoshop so I thought I’d write some information about what to do if you get memory errors when using Photoshop. There is a great section in The Photoshop WOW Book CS/CS2 on pages 34-36 on “Keeping Photoshop Happy”. I’m going to share a few tips from that section of the book and some tips from an article at RedChaos called Make Photoshop Faster For Free

Photoshop files are usually large, with many layers and you are only limited by your computer’s capacity to keep track of it all. Opening a file in Photoshop can take quite a bit of the computer processing. Here are a few suggestions for making sure Photoshop has what it needs to work efficiently.

Free Up RAM

You can free up RAM by:

  • Closing other programs
  • Reduce the number of preset. Reduce the number of Layers Styles, color Gradients, Brushes and other presets that can use a significant amount of RAM.
  • Purge. Photoshop accumulates a lot more stuff in RAM than just what is needed. Clear the Clipboard or the History that you no longer need. by choosing Edit>Purge, any choices that aren’t grayed out is something stored that can be purged.

Defragment your Computer

In Windows XP: Click Start>All Programs>Accessories> System Tools>Disk Defragmenter. Choose the drive to be defragmented and then select the Defragment button.

Use a Bigger Scratch Disk

When Photoshop doesn’t have enough room to to work on files in RAM, it can use hard disk space– virtual memory, or in Photoshop it’s called scratch disk. To set your Scratch Disk, select Edit>Preferences>Performance. Then choose a drive that has the most free space from those listed in the pop-up menu. If you have other drives listed you can also allocate these as extra Scratch Disks. Photoshop will make use of the drive listed first until it is full and then move to the next drive, even if more memory is needed. A good rule of thumb is that you need at least as much space as you have RAM plus at least 5 times the size of any file you might work on.


System requirements for CS3 are 512MB and can be considered minimums. The more RAM you have the better your Photoshop will act.

Lets keep Photoshop happy, have more suggestions? Let us know in the comments area below!

  • Great comments and reminders even for an Adobe Certified Expert like myself.