Feb 7, 2007

16 Photoshop Tips for Configuration - By Trevor Morris


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1. In the Edit » Preferences » Saving Files [Ctrl+K, Ctrl+2] you can set the number of recent files to display in the File » Open Recent submenu to a number between 0 and 30. Don't tell anyone, but Photoshop secretly keeps track of the last 30 files regardless of the number you specify: it just displays the number of entries that you specify. In fact, you can increase the number of recent files to be displayed and see the results immediately (in the File » Open Recent menu).

2. Photoshop requires a scratch disk that is at least three to five times the size of the largest image that you intend to work on – regardless of the amount of RAM you have.

Example: If you are working on a 5MB image, you should have at least 15MB to 25MB of hard drive space and RAM available.

3. If you do not allocate enough scratch disk space, Photoshop's performance could suffer. The amount of RAM used Photoshop is limited by the available scratch disk space. So, if you have 1GB of RAM and tell Photoshop to use 75% of that (or 750MB), but only have 200MB available on the designated scratch disk, then the most RAM that Photoshop will use is 200MB.

Note: To get optimum performance from Photoshop, set your Physical Memory Usage [Ctrl+K, Ctrl+8] (Edit » Preferences » Memory & Image Cache) between 50%-75%.

Note: You should never assign Photoshop's Scratch Disk [Ctrl+K, Ctrl+7] (Edit » Preferences » Plug-Ins & Scratch Disks) to same drive as your Operating System (e.g. C:\), since your this will force Photoshop and your OS to compete for the available resources – thereby decreasing performance.

4. Holding the Ctrl and Alt keys while launching Photoshop will allow you to change Photoshop's Scratch Disk Preferences before it loads.

5. To reset all preferences to their defaults, press (and hold) Ctrl+Alt+Shift immediately after launching Photoshop (or ImageReady). A dialog box will appear to ask for confirmation.

6. Normally, when you select a history state and then change the image, all states below the active state are deleted (or, more accurately, replaced by the current state). However, if you enable the Allow Non-Linear History option (from the History Options in the History palette menu), you may select a state, make a change to the image, and the change will be appended to the bottom of the History palette (instead of replacing all the states below the active state). You can even delete a state without losing any of the states below it!

Note: The color of the horizontal lines between history states indicate their linearity. White dividers indicate linear states and black dividers indicate non-linear states.

Note: Not only is a non-linear history very memory intensive, it can also be very confusing!

7. New! Use the following Image Preview options [Ctrl+K, Ctrl+2] (Edit » Preferences » Saving Files) to save custom icons and preview images with your Photoshop documents:

Always Save: saves a custom icon and an image preview (on the Photoshop Image tab of the image's Properties dialog box) with your image.

Note: Enabling Image Previews typically increases the file size by about 2KB.

Ask When Saving: allows you to manually toggle the Thumbnail option in the Save As dialog box.

Note: This option does not really "ask when saving",; it simply makes the Thumbnail option available when saving your image(s).

Never Save: disables image previews and custom icons. This option also disables the Thumbnail option in the Save As dialog box.

Tip: You can also toggle the creation of image previews via the Generate Thumbnail option located on the Photoshop Image tab of the image's Properties dialog box.


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8. An alternative to deleting unwanted plug-ins (.8be), filters (.8bf), file formats (.8bi), etc., is to prefix their filenames (or containing folders) with a tilde ( ~ ). Photoshop will ignore any files or folders beginning with a tilde ( ~ ).

Example: To disable all "Digimarc" plug-ins, rename the folder to "~Digimarc".

9. You may customize the "File » Jump To" and "File » Preview In" menus with Photoshop / ImageReady by creating shortcuts to your favorite applications within the Helpers folder:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop 6.0\Helpers\

Note: The above path assumes a default installation (for Windows).

Add your favorite graphics application(s) to Photoshop's "File » Jump To" submenu by creating a shortcut in the "Jump To Graphics Editor" folder.

To add your own HTML editor(s) to ImageReady's "File » Jump To" submenu, create a shortcut to the desired application(s) within the "Jump To HTML Editor" folder.

To include your preferred browser(s) in ImageReady's "File » Preview In" submenu (or Preview In button – in the toolbar), create a shortcut within the "Preview In" folder.

Note: You may need to restart Photoshop / ImageReady for the applications to be displayed in their respective menus.

Preview In Tip: Choosing a browser from the "File » Preview In" submenu (or Preview In button), assigns that browser as the default [Ctrl+Alt+P]. The designated browser takes effect immediately and persists the next time you launch ImageReady.

Note: Although you may include additional graphic applications in the "File » Jump To" submenu for both Photoshop and ImageReady, you cannot reassign their default graphic applications. ImageReady's default graphics application [Ctrl+Shift+M] ( Jump to... ) is Photoshop, and Photoshop's default graphics application [Ctrl+Shift+M] ( Jump to... ) is ImageReady.

10. To force Windows (especially for 95 / NT) to use a specific monitor profile, do the following:

1. Remove Adobe Gamma Loader from Start Menu » Startup
2. Establish the Path\Name of the ICM profile to be used (most likely in C:\WinNT\System32\Color\)
3. Run RegEdit (using Start Menu » Run) and navigate to the following entry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE » Software » Adobe » Color » Monitor » Monitor0
4. Create a New Key called Monitor Profile
5. Enter the Path\Name of the profile (from step 2) into the Monitor Profile key

RegEdit Screenshot

Note: After installing this profile, do not run Adobe Gamma again since it will reinstall the Adobe Gamma Loader (into Start Menu » Startup).


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11. To free up memory you may choose Edit » Purge » Histories, but be warned that this will clear the history states of all open documents.

Note: To purge the history states of the active document (only), hold the Alt key and choose Clear History from the History palette menu (Palette Menu). This will purge all history states without changing the image.

Warning! The above commands cannot be undone.

12. To calculate the file size of an image, use the following equation:

File Size = Resolution 2 x Width x Height x Depth / 8192 (bits/KB)

For 24-bit images at screen resolution (i.e. 72dpi) use:

File Size = Width x Height x 3 / 1024

Tip: Divide by 1024 (KB/MB) to determine the file size in Megabytes.

13. New! To ensure accurate histograms in the Levels dialog box, turn off the "Use cache for histograms" option in Edit » Preferences » Memory & Image Cache [Ctrl+K, Ctrl+8].

14. New! To create a Web-safe color, ensure that the R, G, and B components of the color are multiples of 33 hexadecimal (or 51 decimal). For example, any of the following values are acceptable: 00 (0), 33 (51), 66 (102), 99 (153), CC (204), FF (255).

15. New! Since the compression algorithms used for both JPEG and PNG work on blocks of 8 square pixels (i.e. 8 pixels wide by 8 pixels high), the file size of the image could be reduced by a few percent if the overall dimensions are divisible by 8.

16. New! When reducing (or enlarging – although you should avoid up-sampling unless absolutely necessary) the size of an image, reducing in steps will preserve more of the image detail. This technique is often referred to as "Step Interpolation". Use the following formula to figure out the required step size:

Step Size = x 100%

Example: To scale an image by 25% (0.25) in 5 steps, the calculation would be:

Step Size = = 0.758 x 100% = 75.8%

Therefore, you would need to scale the image five times at 75.8% to end up with an image that is 25% of its original size.

Tip: Actions, scripts and batch processes can be used to simplify and expedite the step interpolation process, especially where many steps or large numbers of images are involved.

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