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Mastering Palettes in Photoshop

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Don't waste time opening, closing, and losing your palettes on the desktop when you're working in Photoshop. Learn the shortcuts for organizing your palettes in Photoshop 7 and its predecessors.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


The Info Palette
The Color Palette
The Swatches Palette
The Color Table
The History Palette
The Animation Palette

Working Efficiently with Palettes

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You know you are living large when you are working in Photoshop with dual monitors—one for the document window and one for all the palettes. For those of us who don't have two monitors, my general strategy for arranging the palettes is to group them in such a way that I can access any and all of the palettes using the default Function key assignments. In other words, not every palette has a Function key assigned to it, but as long as a given palette is grouped with a palette that does have a Function key assigned, you can get to that palette without having to pull down the menu.

When I watch people working in Photoshop, two of the most inefficient habits I see include constantly moving palettes all over the screen, and overlapping the palettes so that sometimes a palette gets hidden behind another palette. In Photoshop 6 and earlier versions, I overcame this by arranging the palettes on the screen one time, and then always left them in the same position. I just left them open all the time. If they were in the way, I simply pressed the Tab key to hide the palettes and got them out of the way.

Photoshop 7 speeds things up with its ability to store palette locations as custom workspaces. By arranging palettes as needed for a particular task and choosing Window->Workspace, you can create and access palette layouts tailored to the way you work. For example, you might want to create a workspace for image retouching where just the Brushes, History, and Color palettes are visible, and then create another for layout work that emphasizes the Layers palette. When you switch among tasks, you can switch among workspaces using the Window menu. To update a saved workspace, just save a new workspace with the same name and tell Photoshop to replace the existing workspace.

Contextual Menus

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Mac: Ctrl + click

Win: Right-click

Don't forget about what perhaps is the single biggest timesaving feature of them all: contextual menus. Contextual menus provide you with literally hundreds of additional shortcuts. Too many people forget to incorporate this feature into their workflow.

I think my favorite contextual menu shortcut is using the Rasterize Layer command from the contextual menu: (Ctrl + click) [Right + click] on a Type layer. To find those that work best for you, just (Ctrl + click) [Right + click] on palettes and the canvas with various tools and note the options that appear. For example, depending on where in the Layers palette you click a styled vector, you can adjust its blending options, rasterize its mask, or adjust its layer effects.

Figure 2.1Figure 2.1

Show or Hide All Palettes

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Show or Hide All but the Tool Palette

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Both: Shift + Tab

In Photoshop 6, Shift + Tab hides all but the Tool palette and the Options Bar.

Remove the Focus of a Numeric Edit Field in a Palette

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Both: Enter, Return, or Esc

Show or Hide the Navigator Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Navigator

Figure 2.2Figure 2.2

Show or Hide the Optimize Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Optimize

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Figure 2.3Figure 2.3

Show or Hide the Options Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Options

Both: Enter or Return

Mouse: Double-click a tool

In Photoshop 6 and 7 and ImageReady 7, the Options palette has been replaced with the Options bar at the top of the screen.

Figure 2.4Figure 2.4

Show or Hide the Character Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Character

Mac: Ctrl + T (while editing with the Type tool)

Win: Ctrl + T (while editing with the Type tool)

Photoshop 6 introduced on-canvas editing of text. In other words, you do not have to create and edit your text in a modal dialog box anymore. In both Photoshop 6 and ImageReady 3, there is no longer a Type palette. The options that were in the Type palette now appear in the Options bar when the Type tool is selected.

Show or Hide the Paragraph Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Character

Mac: Ctrl + M (while editing with the Type tool)

Win: Ctrl + M (while editing with the Type tool)

Figure 2.5Figure 2.5

Additionally, there are two new palettes for formatting text—the Character and Paragraph palettes.

Figure 2.6Figure 2.6

Show or Hide the Brushes Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Brushes

Both: F5

This tip works in Photoshop 5.5 and 7.0, as well as ImageReady 2 and 7. In Photoshop 6 and ImageReady 3, the Brushes palette was replaced by the Options bar. When you select a painting tool, the Options bar will display the Brush options for the selected painting tool. Photoshop 7 and ImageReady 7 reintroduced the Brushes palette along with its old shortcut, F5.

Figure 2.7Figure 2.7

Show or Hide the Layers Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Layers

Both: F7

Figure 2.8Figure 2.8

Show or Hide the Layer Options/Effects Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Layer Options/Effects

Figure 2.9Figure 2.9

Show or Hide the Styles Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Styles

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Show or Hide the Channels Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Channels

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F7 shows or hides the Layers palette. Also use it to show or hide the Channels palette if you haven't changed the default grouping of the Layers and Channels palettes. To show Channels if the Layers palette is not open, press F7, and then click the Channels tab. To hide both the Channels and the Layers palettes, press the F7 key until they both disappear.

Figure 2.11Figure 2.11

Show or Hide the Paths Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Paths

Figure 2.12Figure 2.12

Show or Hide the Actions Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Actions

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The only differences between the Photoshop and ImageReady Actions palette is that Photoshop allows for sets of actions whereas ImageReady does not, and ImageReady does not have a button mode for the palette.

Figure 2.13Figure 2.13

Show or Hide the Slice Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Slice

Figure 2.14Figure 2.14

The Info Palette

Show or Hide the Info Palette

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Menu: Window->Showing/Hiding Info

Both: F8

Figure 2.15Figure 2.15

Change the Unit of Measure in the Info Palette

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Mouse: Click on cross-hair icon pop-up

Figure 2.16Figure 2.16

Change the Color Mode of Readout

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Mouse: Click on eyedropper icon pop-up

Figure 2.17Figure 2.17

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