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Set Performance Preferences in Photoshop Elements 12

Photoshop Elements 12 gives you many options for controlling performance, including memory usage, history and cache, and scratch disks. Check out the Performance preferences pane, shown in this figure, for history states and memory settings.

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The options in the Performance preferences pane are

  • Let Photoshop Elements Use: This item specifies the amount of memory allocated to Elements. You can type values in the text box to change the memory allocation. If you find that Elements is running slowly, check how much RAM is allocated to Elements here and increase the amount if you have memory to spare.

  • History States: You can undo edits as many as 50 times back, as defined in the History States text box by default. You can change this value to increase or reduce the number of times. The more you add to the text box, the more memory is required in Elements.

  • Cache Levels: Some operations you perform are cached in memory so that you can quickly access them again. You can edit the text box to increase or decrease the cache levels.

  • Scratch Disks: If you have additional internal or external hard drives attached to your computer, you can extend the scratch disk space to external drives.

    Don’t use USB 1.1 external hard drives or other drives that have connections slower than USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, or Thunderbolt. Using slower drives slows the performance of Elements.

What’s a scratch disk? Assume that you have 100 megabytes (MB) of free RAM (your internal computer memory) and you want to work on a picture that consumes 200MB of hard drive space. Elements needs to load all 200MB of the file into RAM. Therefore, you need an auxiliary source of RAM to work on the image; Elements uses your hard drive.

When a hard drive is used as an extension of RAM, this source is a scratch disk.

If you have more than one hard drive connected to your computer, you can instruct Elements to use all hard drives, and you can select the order of the hard drives that Elements uses for your extension of RAM. All disks and media sources appear in a list as 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on.

If you have an opportunity to find an affordable USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt device, by all means use it; you’ll notice great speed improvements when copying files and when scratch disks are necessary. Note that you also need a USB 3.0 controller card or Thunderbolt support.

USB 3.0 is also backward compatible, so when you outfit your computer with a USB 3.0 controller card and a USB 3.0 storage device, you can also use all your USB 2.0 devices (cameras, storage devices, and media cards, for example).

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