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Optimizing Performance in Photoshop CS2 – part 1

Disabling Plug-ins

Each time you launch Photoshop, it loads plug-ins and presets into memory. The problem is that you may or may not need many of the plug-ins during the course of a session, but they eat into the memory allocation regardless. So, how do you alleviate this problem? Well, if you find there are some plug-ins that you use rarely, if ever, during your Photoshop sessions, you can disable them temporarily and enable them on the rare occasions when you do need them. The tradeoff in faster loading and more free memory may be worth the odd occasion when you may need to quit Photoshop, enable the plug-in, and relaunch Photoshop. To disable a plug-in, navigate to the Plug-Ins folder inside the Photoshop install folder and then insert a ~ (tilde) in front of the plug-in name, folder, or directory. For example, a good candidate to start with is the Digimarc plug-in, used to read and write watermarks. If your workflow never makes use of watermarking, loading it into memory each time you launch Photoshop is pointless. You can also install or move the infrequently used plug-ins out of the plug-ins folder and into a new folder (it cannot be a subfolder because Photoshop will still see it and load into memory any plug-ins that it finds). Plug-ins are easier to move around on Mac OS than they are on the PC (though some do require an install or simply their serial number to be entered after they are launched).

If you do move the infrequently used plug-ins into this secondary folder, you can load them all in one go, as you need them; doing so, however, still requires a relaunch of Photoshop, unfortunately. To load a plug-in, hold down Ctrl+Shift (Windows), Ф+Shift (Mac OS) immediately after you launch Photoshop and then specify the additional plug-ins folder when asked.

While you’re in the Plug-Ins folder, you can safely disable some of the files in the File Formats folder that have been gathering dust because you have rarely, if ever, used them since you installed Photoshop. Some of the prime candidates to consider are as follows:
– FilmStrip—Animation file format used by Adobe Premiere and After Effects
– PCX—PC Paintbrush file developed by Zsoft
– PhotoCD—A file format developed by Kodak for storing images on a CD
– Pixar—A file format designed specifically for exchanging files with PIXAR image computers
– Targa—Used widely by high-end paint programs and ray tracing packages

Managing Fonts

If you are a font lover, you may have too many fonts enabled at any one time. That can add considerably to the launch time while Photoshop scans the fonts folders. Chances are, you use a font management utility to activate fonts as you need them, but if you don’t, they can hog precious resources. Look at the splash screen in Figure 1-1 to see how long Photoshop is taking to scan for available fonts; if it’s taking an inordinate amount of time, that’s a good indicator that you need to manage your fonts. There are several font management utilities on the market: Suitcase for Window and Mac OS and FontAgent for Mac OS are very popular. If you cannot afford a good font management utility, look into disabling at least some of the infrequently used fonts in the system’s fonts folder by using the font management utility that comes with your operating system.


Optimizing Performance Photoshop CS2

FIGURE 1-1: Watch the splash screen for signs of items’ taking too long to load.

Managing Presets

When you launch Photoshop, in addition to fonts it loads brushes, swatches, gradients, styles, patterns, contours, custom shapes, and tool presets into memory. If you have gone to town and loaded all the weird and wonderful sets you can find—and there are plenty of freebies out there to tempt you—don’t have them sitting in the background eating resources just in case you may need them one fine day. Be strong willed and use the Preset Manager (Figure 1-2) to ferret out the infrequently used items in the preset libraries and then either delete them one by one, en masse by selecting multiple items, or by choosing Reset from the palette menu. You can access the Preset Manager from the Edit menu.

Managing Profiles

Many devices install ICC color profiles that you will never use, or will use rarely.Over time, they can add up and not only affect launch time but also eat into your precious resources. The thing to do is to move them so that the OS cannot see them and, by association, neither can Photoshop. If you are not sure where color profiles reside on your system, you can easily find the folders by doing a Search (Windows) or a Find (Mac OS) for .icm and .icc. When you find the folder(s), move the infrequently used color profiles into a backup folder. Do not create the backup folder inside the folder in which you found the files. If you do, the system will still see them, and, by association, so will Photoshop.


Optimizing Performance Photoshop CS2

FIGURE 1-2: You can select multiple items in the Preset Manager by Shift-clicking, or add and subtract from a selection by holding down Ctrl (Windows), Ф (Mac OS), and then clicking an item.