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There have been some pretty important changes under the hood in Photoshop CS5 for the Mac. Adobe completed the ambitious task of re-writing large portions of Photoshop's code to take advantage Apple Computer's Cocoa technology instead of its Carbon technology. That's allowed Adobe to offer Photoshop CS5 for the Mac as a native 64 bit application for the very first time. On the Windows side Photoshop went 64 bit in the last version of the program, Photoshop CS4.
So now both Mac and Windows run natively in 64-bit. What's the practical effect of the change to 64-bit for Photoshop CS5 on a Mac? In a nutshell it could mean that you'll experience a speed bump in your image processing. But that's primarily when you're working on large files like high resolution photographs or maybe panoramas like this one that are made up of lots of different images, or other documents that contain large amounts of data.
And to feel that speed bump you'll also need more than 4 GB of RAM as well as a 64-bit processor and 64 bit operating system, which are likely the case on a Mac, although worth double checking on Windows. The reason for the potential speed bump when you're processing large files is as a 64 bit apps then it was limited to 4 GB of RAM. This means that if you're working with large amounts of image data in Photoshop, there will be less need for swapping that data in and out of memory during process intensive operations.
Instead Photoshop will be able to address additional RAM if you got it and that will handle that and that means increased processing speed. However, don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean that Photoshop CS5 will always run faster for you. If you're working on a file with a relatively small amount of data like a lo-res photograph for the web you may or may not experience a noticeable increase in processing speed. So what if you have plenty of RAM in your 64 bit equipped computer and you want to allocate more of that RAM of Photoshop? Here's what you'll do.
Go to your Preferences and choose the Performance category. Check the amount of available RAM. Leave yourself about 1 GB or 1000 MB for other purposes and then increase the Let Photoshop Use category. You can do that by typing a number in this field or dragging the slider. I'm going set this to about 4400 MB and then I'll press OK. It's useful to note that on both Mac and Windows Photoshop CS5 can run in either a 32-bit or 64-bit environment.
And there may be times when you do want to run Photoshop in 32-bit. For example, you may need to use a plug-in that's 32 bit only. On Windows by default two separate versions of Photoshop are installed, a 64-bit version and a 32-bit version, although you can choose to install only the 64-bit app on a compatible Windows machine. The two Windows versions of Photoshop do not share plug-ins so if you're installing third-party plug-ins you want to be sure to put them in the appropriate application directory.
And then to change between 64 bit and 32 -bit Photoshop on Windows just like in Photoshop CS4 you have to quit one application and launch the other. But things are a little different on a Mac where there is now one Photoshop application that you can switch to run in either the 64 bit the default environment or in a 32-bit environment and plug-ins are shared between the two environments on a Mac. Let me show you how to switch between 64-bit and 32-bit on a Mac.
You may have noticed that when you installed Photoshop CS5 on a Mac that certain plug-ins won't run because they are 32-bit only. And if I go up to the menu where I would expect to see the Variations command, Image and then Adjustments, there is no Variations command here. And the same is true for the Lighting Effects filter. If I go to the Filter menu and then down to Render there is no filter named Lighting Effects. So if any I need use either of those commands or a third-party plug-in I need to switch the application to 32-bit like this.
First I'll quit Photoshop. Then I'll locate the Photoshop CS5 application in my Mac Finder, I'll Ctrl-click on the Adobe Photoshop CS5 start icon and I'll choose Get Info. In the Get Info window I'll go to to Open in 32-bit mode and check that box and then I'll start Photoshop again. I'm going to open that same file, and now the Variations command and the Lighting Effects filter should both be available as I'm running in 32 bit.
Image > Adjustments and there's Variations. And under the Filter menu, Filter > Render, and there's the Lighting Effects filter. Now do remember that if you switch the program to 32-bit you'll want to switch back to 64-bit and you did that the same way, quitting the program, going to the Get Info window and unchecking Open in 32-bit mode. This is intended as a non-technical explanation of a pretty technical subject, primarily to give you an idea of what's new and very important under the hood of this newly written Cocoa version of Photoshop for Mac, and also to explain the impact that the switch to 64- bit may have on your day-to-day use of Photoshop CS5.
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