Preferences Window

This page presents the Preferences window of Substance Designer, and the settings contained within.

You can find the Preferences window through the Edit menu in the main top bar of Substance Designer. This dialog lets you adjust a number of settings.

It is organised in tabs covering different areas of behaviour and functionality. We strongly recommend you review all of these settings to get a better insight on how Substance Designer operates, and how it can be tailored to your workflow.

For more information about how these preferences are stored and how you can integrate them in a production environment, you can refer to the User Preferences - Automating Setup page of the documentation.


Recent Documents

Recent documents list contains

This allows you to select the number of documents to list in the Recent Packages entry of the File item in the Main Menu.

Default: 10


History stack size

This indicates the number of available undo operations at any given time in the Edit > Undo item of the Main Menu.

The more undo operations you need, the more memory Substance Designer will require.

Default: 200


Choose the language of the application

This setting lets you change the language used in Substance Designer.
The available languages are English, Japanese or Korean. The System value will auto-detect language from your system language settings.

Changes to this setting will take effect after restarting Substance Designer.

Default: System


Invert zoom in views

If checked, the zoom control will be inverted in the 2D View3D View and graphs.

Default: Unchecked


Save/Export Path

Determines whether the suggested save/export path is your last selected path, or the SBS package's path. The last selected path is saved across sessions.

Default: Last path

Temporary Folder

When the image data of a graph exceeds the allocated memory pool (see below Memory > Image Cache), the overflowing data is written on disk. This setting lets you define the location the overflowing image cache data is written to.

This location is also used to store a copy of the currently open SBS package with the latest modifications since the last manual save.

Default: Path depending on system OS


Image Cache

Substance Designer keeps in cache a full-resolution, uncompressed image for each rendered node in the current graph.
Instance nodes will generate these images for all nodes of the graph they reference, and delete them once their outputs have been computed. Only the outputs are kept in memory at that point.

You can set the maximum cache size allocated to thumbnails and images in system memory, and see the current usage. If the cache data overflows its allocated pool, the excess data is written to the Temporary Folder (see above Paths > Temporary Folder).

Memory Budget

This allocation is calculated automatically to approximately 75% of the total system memory pool. To set this value manually, select the Custom option and set a value in the adjacent input field.

Default: Automatic

Please note writing to disk is orders of magnitude slower than writing to system memory. Therefore, graph rendering time will increase exponentially as overflowing data needs to be written to the Temporary Folder.
To prevent this from happening, we recommend taking a look at the suggestions for decreasing a graph's memory footprint in the Performance Optimization Guidelines section of the documentation.

Job Scheduler

During specific tasks, such as image conversions for thumbnails or the 2D View, Substance Designer will create separate jobs and distribute them across the system processing cores for efficiency. Each job will write data to system memory to perform its operations.

This setting lets you define the allocated memory pool for all concurrent jobs. When this pool is entirely used, Substance Designer will queue new jobs until the current ones have completed.

Memory Budget

This allocation is calculated automatically to approximately 10% of the total system memory pool. To set this value manually, select the  Custom  option and set a value in the adjacent input field.

Default: Automatic

User Interface

Disable High DPI

High DPI mode will maintain consistent scaling of text and user interface elements independently of the system's display and scaling settings.
Disabling (i.e. checkbox filled) this setting will let the interface be scaled, which results in larger and more readable text on some displays but can also create inconsistencies in text size, along with other layout issues.

Changes to this setting will take effect after restarting Substance Designer.

Default: Unchecked

Auto Backup

Substance Designer includes an auto-save feature, which creates copies of the current state of open SBS packages at set periods of time. Auto-saves are placed in an .autosave folder at the SBS package location.

Auto backup every # minutes

The time period between each auto-save.

Default: 5

 Keep up to # versions

The maximum number of auto-saves to keep at any given time.

Default: 6

When the maximum amount of versions is reached, newer backups will delete the oldest backups.
Please also note auto-saves should be opened after moving them to the original SBS package location. They should not be opened at their current location.


Cooking Size Limit

Defines the maximum pixel resolution permitted for all nodes in any graph.
As a Substance material's output is always a square image of powers-of-2 resolution, the value set here defines both the maximum width and height, in pixels.

Default: 8192 pixels


GPU Cache Limit

This setting lets you define how much memory Substance Designer should set aside for caching render stages. Usually, the Substance Engine will cache the output of each node in a Substance graph.

Default: 2048 MB

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions for decreasing a graph's memory footprint in the Performance Optimization Guidelines section of the documentation.


Automatically send usage statistics

Lets Substance Designer automatically send us usage statistics.

Default: Checked


Please refer to the Projects Settings page.


Automatically compute node thumbnails

If checked, Substance Designer will automatically render all node thumbnails when loading the graph.

Default: Checked

View outputs when opening a graph

If checked, all graph outputs are automatically loaded in the 2D View and 3D View when that graph is opened.
This also has the effect of rendering all nodes which are part of a stream leading to an Output node.

Default: Checked

Display comments at a constant size (zoom/unzoom)

If checked, the screen size of the text in Comment graph items will remain constant, regardless of the graph zoom level.

Default: Unchecked

Automatically display newly created compositing node

If checked, the 2D View will automatically update to display the output of a newly created node.

Default: Checked

Automatically insert color/greyscale conversion node

If checked, Substance Designer will automatically resolve Color/Grayscale connection types mismatches, by placing specific nodes to perform the appropriate conversion.

When a Grayscale output (gray connector) is connected to a Color input (yellow connector), a Gradient Map node is automatically placed between the two connectors.

When a Color output (yellow connector) is connected to a Grayscale input (gray connector), a Grayscale Conversion node is automatically placed between the two connectors.

Default: Unchecked

Enable graph editing in context

By default, when opening a graph referenced by an instance node with a right-click on the node and selecting Open Reference, that graph is loaded and edited in isolation.

If checked, you can edit graphs referenced by instances using the information passed in the instance by the current graph. To do this, right-click on an instance node and select Open Reference In Context, or use the Ctrl+E keystroke.
This means an instanced graph can be edited in the context of the graph it is instanced into. This is very useful for seeing the effects of the edits on the graph you were working in.

Default: Unchecked

This feature is experimental and may cause performance issues or instability.

Open Reference

Open Reference In Context

Tab key shows node menu

If checked, the Tab key will open the Node Menu, replicating the functionality of the 'Space' key.

Default: Checked

Enable creation of nodes by click-dragging connectors

If checked, when you click on any connector, drag the cursor and release the created link in graph empty space, the Node Menu will be displayed.
The menu will also be filtered according to the type of the connector which was clicked on. This means only nodes which are compatible with the clicked connector will be displayed.

Default: Checked

3D View

Post Process

If checked, enables Yebis post-processing effects in the 3D View.
The post-processing effects are located in the 3D View Camera Properties panel, which is opened using the Edit Selected option of the Camera menu in the 3D View panel.

Default: Checked


Environment hidden by default

Determines the Environment default visibility setting. When hidden, the backdrop of the 3D View is replaced with a solid color.

Default: Checked

Descale Factor

Lets you can also define the factor by which the texture applied to the environment is scaled down.

Default: 4


Sample Count

Impacts the size of the 3D View shaders' sample table . A higher value will result in higher image quality at the cost of performance.

Default: 40

The shaders' sample table is also impacted by the system's GPU and OS.



Defines which hardware resources are allocated to Iray computation. The list should include the CPU and all compatible GPU(s) detected.

Default: All checked.

Nvidia GPUs only can be used. Check your graphics driver version for CUDA version compatibility.
For the best overall responsiveness, it is generally recommended to disable CPU rendering.
For multi-GPUs configurations, it is recommended to disable SLI and select only one GPU for the best reliability.


GPU Raytracing

If checked, raytracing will be performed on the GPU for compatible bakers.

The following GPU raytracing backends will be the default depending on the GPU architecture:

  • DXR: Nvidia Turing and newer
  • Optix: Nvidia Pascal/Maxwell

Default: Checked

More information about GPU-powered bakers is available in the GPU Raytracing section of the Substance Bakers documentation.

You can use the following command line arguments when starting Substance Designer to force the use of a different GPU raytracing backend:

  • --force-optix : force the use of Optix on Nvidia Turing or newer GPUs
  • --force-dxr : force the use of DXR on Nvidia Pascal GPUs


Refresh Rate

This setting will define the time period for refreshing the content of the Library.

Default: 1 second

Rebuild Thumbnails

The option will trigger a recalculation of all Library thumbnails, which will automatically replace the previous ones.


Substance Designer lets you assign your own custom shortcuts for node creation. Shortcuts can be assigned for nodes in all Graph Types: Substance Compositing Graphs, Functions, FX-Maps and MDL Graphs.

No shortcuts are assigned by default, you are free to customize this to your liking. Any node can be assigned a shortcut, even custom library nodes.

In case of a conflict with another node shortcut, or a built-in program shortcut, the entry will be highlighted and you get a warning. The shortcut will be disabled until the conflict is resolved.