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Photoshop tips.

Excerpted from the "Photoshop Power Shortcuts" video training title published by , Ojai, Calif. You can watch this training title or any of more than 160 other training titles by signing up for a free 24-hour pass to the entire Online Training Library.

Palette Shortcuts

1. Default Palette Groups

The palettes that are open by default are arranged into four palette groups, and each group can be opened and closed with an F Key. While not every palette has a keyboard shortcut assigned to it, because the palettes are grouped by default, four simple shortcuts gives you instant access to all your primary palettes. For example, say you want to do something in the Channels palette, but the Layers group is currently not open. Simply press the F Key for the Layers group (F7), and you'll be able to click on the tab for the Channels palette to bring it to the front. This is much easier than using the Window menu to open and close your palettes. Here are the default palette groups and their corresponding F Key shortcuts:
F6 Color group > Color | Swatches | Styles
F7 Layers group > Layers | Channels | Paths
F8 Info group > Navigator | Info | Histogram
F9 Actions group > History | Actions

2. Don't Close the Palettes--Hide Them!

One of the biggest time-wasters I see people do all the time is fight with their palettes. They keep moving the palettes around, overlap them on the screen, accidentally close them, etc. For lots of people, their palette management solution is to buy a second monitor and create a wall-of-palettes. Try this instead; get the palettes configured the way you want them, and then leave them that way! Then, if the palettes are ever in your way, simply hide them by pressing the Tab key.

3. Minimize Palettes

All palettes and palette groups can be collapsed down to just the vertical height of the palette tab. Simply double click on a palette tab to toggle between the collapsed and expanded states.

4. Palette Docking

Many folks don't realize they can attach one or more palettes to the bottom of another palette. This is called palette docking. To dock one palette to another, drag the palette tab (not the title bar) to the bottom of another palette and look for the thin black rectangle to appear at the bottom of the target palette. If you drag too far into the target palette, you'll see a black rectangle that goes around the entire interior of the target palette. If you let go there, you will end up grouping the palettes instead of docking them. It takes a steady hand to pull it off. Make sure you don't let go of the mouse too early. Unfortunately, there is no way to dock a group of palettes to another palette or palette group, so you'll need to dock one palette to another first, and then add the other palettes to the group afterwards.

5. Smarter Palettes

One thing that annoys me about the Adobe floating palettes is they are not aware of each other. In other words, when you resize one palette, the palettes around the palette you are resizing do not react to the resize--that is, the other palettes don't get smaller or collapse out of the way--so you often end up covering up other palettes during a palette resize. You can combine palette docking and palette minimizing to create a much more useful palette configuration and create an Qber palette that allows you to change the size of multiple palettes at the same time.

The first time you want to make the Layers palette taller so you don't have to scroll your layer list as much, you realize you've entered into palette management hell. Before you can make the Layers palette taller, you'll have to move the other palettes above out of the way so you don't cover them up. Instead of constantly moving palettes around your screen, create one palette "pane" by docking palettes together to form one palette the height of your monitor. To dock a palette with another, drag the palette Tab to just beyond the bottom of another palette. If you drag too far, you'll end up adding the palette to the group, not docking it to the bottom of the palette. To collapse a palette group, double click on one of the palette tabs in the group.

6. Clean Up the Clutter

You can quickly send a palette to the nearest screen edge if you Shift + Click on the palette title bar (not the palette tab).

7. Scrubby Sliders

Starting in Photoshop CS, all edit fields in palettes (and in dialog boxes as well) could be "scrubbed" with virtual sliders. To access a Scrubby Slider, put your mouse over the text or iconic label of the edit field. The cursor will change to a finger with a horizontal double arrow, letting you know that edit field can be scrubbed. Press and drag either left or right, or up and down, to change the value or the direction. Bonus Tip: A hidden way to access Scrubby Sliders is to hold down the Command key while hovering over an edit field. This is also how you can access a Scrubby Slider for an edit field that doesn't actually have a label.

8. Experimenting with Values

Scrubby Sliders are fun to use when you don't really know what value you want to use and you just want to fiddle with it until it looks right. There are times, however, when you know what value or values you want to try. For example, perhaps you want to see the difference between 36pt type and 48pt type. Whenever you've clicked into an edit field and typed a number, you probably have figured out already that you need to press the Enter or Return key to apply the new value. If you want to see one value, and then quickly try another specific value, press Shift + Enter instead. This will apply the value you entered, but the value of the edit field will still be selected. That way, if you want to try another value, simply type in the next value and press Shift + Enter again. When you are done experimenting with specific values, simply press the Enter or Return key to apply the last value entered and deselect the edit field.

Screen Mode Shortcuts

9. Cycling thru the Screen Modes

Simply press the letter F to cycle through the three different screen modes in Photoshop. The default screen mode is called the Standard Screen Mode. This is the mode where you are most likely to work with and compare multiple document windows. The first time you press the letter F, you will cycle to the Full Screen Mode with Menu Bar. (That's a mouthful--I just call it the Grey Screen Mode.) This centers the active document on a neutral grey background. This is the screen mode you should use when you want to do accurate color correction, because that lime-green desktop pattern you have on your Mac doesn't effect your color perception at all, right? Uh, yes, it does. The second time you press the letter F, you will cycle to the Full Screen Mode. I call this the Presentation Mode or the Macho Mode, because you have to know all the keyboard shortcuts as the menus are now hidden. Press the letter F one more time and you'll return to the Standard Screen Mode. For those of you who like seeing your images against a black background, but miss the menus when you are in the Full Screen Mode, you can press Shift + F to toggle the menus on and off.

10. Set the Screen Mode for all Open Documents

Every document window can have its own screen mode setting. To set the screen mode for all open documents at the same time, Shift + Click on the icon for the screen mode you want near the bottom of the Tools palette.

11. Panning in Full Screen Mode %

It's the little things, right? While this tip seems small, it is actually my favorite new feature of Photoshop CS. Once I saw it, I wondered how I lived without it for so long. When you switch to any of the Full Screen modes (pressing the letter F cycles you through the three modes), you can now pan the image window around the screen. By default, the image is centered on the screen, but sometimes this means it will be underneath open palettes. Rather then clutter up your . workspace by moving the palettes around, simply pan the image around the workspace with either the Hand tool, or by holding down the Spacebar to access the Hand tool temporarily.

12. Panning and Zooming Multiple Windows

You can now tile multiple documents to fit on the screen by choosing Window > Arrange > Tile. If the tiled windows are at different zoom levels and/or locations, you can synch them via the Window > Arrange > Match ... commands. You can also pan and zoom all the documents at the same time. You can turn on the Zoom All Windows and Pan All Windows checkboxes in the Options bar for the Hand and Zoom tools. Or, you can add the Shift key to your favorite keyboard method for panning and zooming to temporarily pan and/or zoom all windows.

13. Cycle thru Open Documents

Finding the open document you want to bring to the front can be frustrating at times. Looking at a list of file names at the bottom of the Window menu isn't always all that helpful, especially if you are working with multiple files you've just pulled from a digital camera (DSCF3154JPG, DSCF3155.JPG, etc.). Of course, if you are using a Mac running Panther (OS X 10.3), you can use the Expose features to fit all open windows on the screen. But, if you are using a Windows machine or an earlier Mac OS version, you can use the Ctrl + Tab keyboard shortcut to cycle through all open documents. This is especially useful if you want to view your images in a "slide show" without leaving Photoshop. To set up the slide show, Shift + Click on the third screen mode icon towards the bottom of the Tools palette to set the screen mode for ALL open documents to the black full screen mode. Next, press the Tab key to hide all open palettes. Then use the Ctrl + Tab shortcut to "advance" to the next open image. Heck, people don't even need to know you are in Photoshop!

Michael Ninness is executive director at, and a former product manager and user interface designer at Extensis, Microsoft, and Adobe. He is a frequent speaker at events such as Photoshop World, PhotoPlus Expo, PMA, Macworld, and Flashforward. He is the author of the "Photoshop Power Shortcuts" and "Photoshop CS2 Essential Training" video titles published by
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Author:Ninness, Michael
Publication:Digital Imaging Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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