The computer I use for my digital photography workflow is not exactly underpowered – it’s a 2008 Apple MacBook with a 2.2GHz Intel Core2Duo CPU, 4GB RAM and a 320GB hard disk – so I couldn’t understand why Adobe Bridge (CS3) was taking so long to do anything. Sure, I do have around 15,000 digital photos and over 9000 of them are in a single folder but I was seeing more than my fair share of spinning beachballs (the Mac equivalent of the Windows egg timer – which itself has been replaced with a halo from Windows Vista onwards).
I googled around a bit and didn’t find much at first but then I stumbled across an Adobe User to User Forums post from RamÃ³n G CastaÃ±eda where he says that:
“The Bridge that come with CS3 now makes extensive use of the GPU on your graphics display card, That’s new.
If your graphics card is underpowered, enabling Use Software Rendering will actually help performance.”
Of course – my MacBook has an integrated graphics chipset and, whilst that’s fine for the photo editing that I do, drawing all those thumbnails in Bridge was going to bog it down a bit. So I turned on software rendering, restarted Bridge and the difference was very noticeable. Sure, CPU utilisation took a hit – but previously the two CPU cores were idle as they waited for the underpowered GPU to catch up.
From reading around, other configuration items that can make a difference include:
- Make sure there is plenty of free disk space available – and that it’s not fragmented.
- Organise images into subfolders.
- Increase the size of the camera raw cache (1GB of disk space will hold about 200 raw images – I bumped mine up to 10GB but I’m not sure if that’s made any difference yet).
- Make sure your PC/Mac has plenty of memory (2GB minimum) and a fast disk (RAID 0 is good if you have a decent workstation but is not an option for laptop users like me).