Master Your Photoshop Skills with These 4 Simple Steps!

Photoshop every year becomes more powerful, and with each update, you add new features and settings. In this tutorial, I’ll explain how to make it more efficient and faster by showing you what my favorite settings are. Here is a list of the points we will see together:

  1. Setting up quick file export
  2. Settings for using RAM, cache, and stories
  3. Management of virtual memory disks
  4. How to use color profiles

1. QUICK EXPORT

After working on images with Photoshop, it’s time to upload them to the web. The easiest way to save your images for online viewing is to export them with the Quick Export option  (see Fig. 1). To customize this function if you are a MAC user go to Photoshop> Preferences> Export, instead if you are a WINDOWS user go to Edit> Preferences> Export. The default format used by Photoshop is PNG, this is because it is the most used by graphics and web designers because they work with files that have transparent areas, but if you are a photographer and work mainly with photographs then you will opt for a JPG format.

1. In the menu under the File heading, you will find the Export option

 

2. Open the Preferences panel. Photoshop> Preferences> Export, instead if you are a WINDOWS user you can find it in Edit> Preferences> Export

 

So if you do not use transparent areas the best format to save your images is the JPG with a quality index between 80% and 100%. My advice is to set the quality of the file to 80% because you get images very similar to those saved at the highest quality, but with a much lower weight, perfect condition if you have to upload your photographs online.

You can choose to let Photoshop always ask you where you want the file saved or tell it to save it in the same folder where the source file is. I also suggest you insert the copyright and contact details in the metadata of all your photographs.

The last visible item is the color space, make sure the checkbox is checked.

PRO TIP

It is crucial to check the Convert to sRGB box because this is the color space that is used by most browsers to read images. If once you upload your images online, they have a strange color, different from the original, it may be that they have not been converted to the sRGB color space during export.

Now you can quickly and easily save your photos, ready to be uploaded on the internet. Just go to File> Export> Quick Export as JPG and choose which folder to save the file. Good upload!

2. IMPROVE PHOTOSHOP PERFORMANCE

The best way to increase the speed of Photoshop is to let the program use a good amount of RAM. To do this you need to open the Performance panel and increase the amount of memory allocated to the program, if you are a MAC user go to Photoshop> Preferences> Performance or if you are a WINDOWS user go to Edit> Preferences> Performance.

4. If you are a WIN user, find this panel via Edit> Preferences> Performance

 

5. Moving the slider pointer on the top left gives Photoshop an amount of RAM between 80% and 90%

 

In this panel, you find the amount of memory assigned to Photoshop to perform all operations.

Dragging the slider pointer to the right will increase the amount of memory to be assigned to Photoshop (Figure 5). Set a value between 80% and 90%, but keep in mind that if Photoshop is busy in complex operations, all other open programs will slow down. For intense post-production sessions, I suggest you close the other programs, giving Photoshop all the available RAM.

In the central part, on the right, of the dialogue window, you find the History States, the number indicated in the red circle (fig.5) indicates how many times Photoshop can go back canceling the changes you have made to the document, like a “time machine.” If you use the “History” function very often, it may be useful to increase this value. The higher the value, the more resources will be used by the system, with the possibility of creating delays.

The Cache Layers identify how Photoshop handles the cache to optimize image updating during zooming, histogram sampling, and document changes (such as contrast and brightness adjustment). Choose multiple cache levels to increase image refresh rate or choose fewer cache levels to improve quality.

The changes made in this dialog box will only be active after restarting the program.

3. THE VIRTUAL MEMORY DISKS

When the RAM assigned to it is not enough Photoshop starts recording temporary information on virtual memory disks, which are nothing more than free space on your hard drive. We recommend that you set up a fast disk as primary virtual memory, but at the same time, it is not your hard disk where the operating system resides.

You can also use an external disk connected to a USB port or a Thunderbolt door. The connection speed and the speed of the disk affect Photoshop’s performance, so the best choice I can suggest is to opt for a Solid State Drive (SSD) connected to a USB 3.0 + port or a Thunderbolt 2.0 + port.

To set the virtual memory disks go to the Preferences panel accessible from the Photoshop> Preferences> Virtual memory disks menu if you are a MAC user, or from the menu Edit> Preferences> Virtual memory disks if you are a WINDOWS user.

6. It is advisable to set up a fast hard disk as primary virtual memory, but at the same time it is not the hard disk where the operating system resides

 

4. SETTING THE COLOR PROFILES

Photoshop offers lots of options when it comes to the color space. Some color spaces are wider than others and allow the use of a wider range of colors during the post-production phase. In most cases, it is advisable to work with the color space that will enable you to use as many colors as possible, i.e. the ProPhoto RGB.

To set ProPhoto RGB as the primary color space go to the  Edit> Color Settings menu and select the ProPhoto RGB option from the RGB drop-down menu. Be sure to check the “ask before opening” and “ask before pasting” checkboxes for the “Non-matching profiles” and “Profiles not present” options (see Fig. 8).

7. Access the color space management panel from the Edit> Color Settings menu

 

8. Set the ProPhoto RGB color space because it is the one with the widest range of colors

 

Every time you open a file with Photoshop and the color space embedded in the file does not match the color space of your workspace (ProPhoto RGB) the program will give you three options to open the document (Fig. 9):

  • Use the embedded profile (instead of the workspace)
  • Convert document colors to your workspace
  • Delete embedded profile (do not handle colors)

Unless you are working on some graphics project for the web (and then you will opt for the first solution “Use embedded profile”, thus keeping the document color space) the option to select is the second “Convert document colors to workspace”, in this way you can work on your photography using the best color space in Photoshop that you have available, the ProPhoto RGB . If you need to export your photo to upload it online, all you have to do is use the quick export command like JPG – we saw in the first step of the tutorial – and Photoshop will convert the ProPhoto RGB color space into RGB color space (optimal for web viewing ) during the export of the file (see Fig. 3).

9. Choose the option to convert document colors to your work-space unless you are working on a web-based graphic project