I recently purchased a new Apple MacBook Pro, and am absolutely over the moon with it. But there’s one thing that I can’t stand — brush lagging in Photoshop.

Clone stamping or using the heal brush was near impossible depending on what I was doing. I’d have to blindly brush, hoping for the correct results. It was a painful and tedious process, to say the least. I tried everything, mainly optimizing the Performance tab in Photoshop’s Preferences, and making sure to close out anything I didn’t need.

But you’d think with 32GB of RAM and a solid state drive I’d be fine, right?

So when I finally found out the solution, I was totally amazed. And here it is.

Turn off your rulers

Believe it or not, the simple task of hiding rulers got rid of my brush lag. Photoshop was fast once again! If I turn the rulers back on, the lag comes back immediately and makes for a painful experience.

To turn off your rules, go to View > Rulers and uncheck it. Or, use the keyboard shortcut Cmd R (Mac) or Ctrl R (Windows).

I’m not sure why this is — my only thought is it’s keeping track of your precise point on the screen as you move your cursor around. But as soon as I turn off the rulers, my experience with Photoshop goes from terrible to amazing.

Still having slowdowns? Try these tricks

If you have an older or underpowered machine, you still might see some lag time. In Photoshop Preferences, click on Performance. Then try changing some of the following settings:

  • Graphics Processor Settings: First, make sure Use Graphics Processor is checked. Under Advanced Settings…, change “Advanced” to “Basic.” This doesn’t put as much pressure on the graphics processor, resulting in a smoother experience especially while doing tasks like brushing.
  • History States: The more history states you save to your file, the larger it becomes. By default this is set to 50; try lowering it to 25.
  • Memory Usage: Try to give Photoshop more memory by increasing this to about 70-80 percent.

You can also check your Scratch Disk settings under Preferences. Make sure this is set to your fastest hard drive (in my case, the internal SSD). If you’re running out of free space, that’s the next thing you should try to clean up.