How much RAM do I need for Creative Cloud?

We all get that sinking feeling when we do something too quickly in Photoshop or InDesign and the screen freezes or lags. This is happening because there is not enough RAM.

To run Adobe Creative Cloud you need a minimum of 2GB of RAM but 4GB+ is recommended for a PC and 4GB of RAM but 16GB is recommended for a MacOS.

For you to get the best experience with Adobe Creative Cloud you definitely need optimim RAM. Let’s look at what is required and why?

What is RAM?

RAM or Random Access Memory is basically short term memory for your computer. Every time you open a program or a browser tab your machine uses RAM to complete this task.

Switching between programs uses RAM so your machine can quickly calculate what you were doing in each program so you can pick up where you left off when you switch back.

Most computer users require standard amounts of RAM – 2GB. But if you are using Adobe Creative Cloud products you will require a lot more.

RAM stores the required info that your machine is using at that moment in order for you to move quickly through tasks. If you find that your programs lag when you are trying to complete a task, or worse, your program takes forever to open, the problem is that you haven’t enough RAM.

Creative Cloud on Mac vs PC

RAM allows apps to open and run efficiently on your machine.
If you are an Adobe user you know that all Creative Cloud apps pack a punch. They are fantastic apps, that do a whole range of different tasks from publishing to video editing. Because of this they require a bit more oomph when it comes to RAM.

It also depends on what operating system you are running.
Let’s look at the differences:

PC vs Mac RAM Requirements

On a PC – running Windows 10 – you need a minimum of 2GB of RAM but 4GB+ are recommended.

You must have MacOS Sierra (10.12) or later and you need a minimum of 4GB of RAM but 16GB+ are recommended.

To me I don’t see why they don’t just say you need 4GB+ and 16GB+ in the first place. I know that yes, the programs will run, but if you try and open more than one at any one time, or try and complete an involved task the whole thing will just dump you off.

You need to go with the recommended RAM size as anything else is just not going to cut it.

Why do I need more for a Mac than a PC, I hear you ask? Although both use RAM in the same way, Macs are programmed differently to PC’s and so when you are opening a file or program on a Mac, the RAM goes and checks a few extra background tasks and so needs that extra bit of RAM.

In the past, most graphic designers, myself included (Graphic designer for 20+ years), used MacOS. Mac and Adobe kind of just went hand in hand. But that is no longer the case. In fact last year I took the plunge and bought a DELL. I use a lot of Creative Cloud products on a daily basis and have to admit, I find my PC quicker than any Mac I had before.

I know that could be just because I have the latest technology but Creative Cloud needs your machine to be fast, more RAM means a quicker machine, but a Mac needs even more RAM to do the same tasks.

What I am really saying is unless you are a complete die hard Mac User, if you are changing your machine I would definitely recommend looking at PC specs first or at least in conjunction with Mac.

App Dependent

When you are asking about RAM in relation to Creative Cloud we are really looking at the individual programs. It totally depends on what way you use your Creative Cloud.

I generally use InDesign, Photoshop and to a lesser extent Illustrator.

Different Creative Cloud apps use different amounts of RAM. If you are familiar with the apps you probably can tell which ones need the highest RAM.

Premier Pro and After Effects are the highest RAM usage. This is understandable. They are film editing programs and so there is a lot of background tasks happening every time you change something within your project.
It’s amazing to see the capabilities of Creative Cloud.

But if you don’t have enough RAM to run these programs you will just see spooling and crashed windows. And the chances that your work may not get saved because of lack of RAM is also a possibility.

The next highest user is Photoshop and Illustrator. Photoshop is a massive program, which truthfully most people only use a tiny proportion of. Cropping, color toning, resizing. But you still need a large amount of RAM to run it. Because Illustrator is a drawing package, again there is a large number of background tasks involved, and again the capabilities of both these programs is enormous.

InDesign uses one of the lowest RAM amounts. It is after all a publishing program, and so is text heavy with most projects. The more pages and images you have within your project will make your InDesign more sluggish if you don’t have the required amount of RAM.

Can You Add RAM to a Machine?

If you are asking about RAM, I have to assume you are already having memory / speed issues with Creative Cloud. There are two options available, depending on budget and what machine you have.

If we look first at budget. If you are considering a new machine, this is fantastic news. This allows you to research which machine and OS is best for your needs.

Are you an ‘On the go’ person, with a laptop?
Are you working as a publisher, or a film editor, in an office?

All of these factors have to come into account when choosing your new machine.

The most important aspect of your purchase will be how much RAM will you need depending on the Creative Cloud apps that you use, now or into the future. I recommend going for the highest RAM amount that your budget will allow. When was the last time you heard someone say “I wish my machine was slower!”. Never, right?

If on the other hand you are upgrading your machine this can be a little trickier.

PC’s are quite adaptable to adding RAM. If you’re a little techy and like to have a go it’s easily done at home. Your machine should have slots allocated to RAM.

RAM works best when it doesn’t have to change. For example if you have four slots with 2GB in each, change them to four slots of 4GB in each, or 8GB in each.

Your machine then doesn’t have the extra task of going from 2 to 4 to 2 and back to 4.

Macs on the other hand are not as accessible. They use only Mac Certified RAM and many Mac machines do not have the capability to be upgraded, even in a Mac shop.

Apples latest M1 MacBook is a fantastic machine but you cannot add RAM to it, ever.

In saying that most Mac laptops have up to 16GB available when purchasing.

You can add aftermarket RAM to a 27” iMac. They come with 32GB but can be upgraded to 128GB, which is a phenomenal amount.

As I say, if you’re asking about RAM to run Creative Cloud it’s always better to go with the More is More approach.
Just because you may only be using one or two of the apps in Creative Cloud at the moment doesn’t mean you’ll never use the others.

Allow for this option when choosing or upgrading your machine.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Can I run Photoshop on 4GB of RAM?

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on

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