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Pick Your Fonts Visually in CS2

Last updated Mar 14, 2003.

Once in a while a new feature comes along in Photoshop that makes you think, "Wow... I can't believe that wasn't there before." The new WYSIWYG font menu is one of those features.

Does this feature revolutionize the way you work in Photoshop? Unfortunately, no. But I've found that my favorite features don't drastically change the way I do things in Photoshop. Instead, my favorite features help me do things better and faster and that is exactly what the new Font Preview feature in Photoshop CS2 does.

Back in the old days of Photoshop—and by old days I mean the dark years before CS2 was released in April of 2005—to see what a font looked like before you used it was a real pain. To preview a font, you had to click the font name in the top options bar and then use the arrow keys to cycle through all of the fonts to see which one you liked the best. As you can imagine, it could be time-consuming to find just the right one.

Photoshop CS2’s Font Preview feature makes finding the right font easier and faster by enabling you to visually scan through your font list and see a preview of what each font looks like. If you know you want a script font, for example, but aren't sure which fonts are script fonts, you can quickly see them all in the list. Let's take a look at how to use this new feature.

Step One:

Open Photoshop and open an image that you'd like to add some text to. Select the Type tool and take a look in the options bar. You'll see a list where you can pick a font name, as well as some other font-related options.

Figure 1

Figure 1 This is what the options bar in Photoshop CS2 look like when the Type tool is selected.

Step Two:

If you click on the little down-facing arrow next to the font name, you'll see a list of fonts. But wait! You’ll also see a preview of the font style next to the list. This is what is known as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). It sounds like a small thing, but it’s really quite huge. For the first time, you can pick your font visually.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The new WYSIWYG Font menu in Photoshop CS2.

Okay, I can't just end it here after two steps, although just knowing that your fonts are there visually is a huge leap forward. But let's say that the font preview is just too small for you to accurately get a feel for what the text will look like. Here's the solution.

Step Three:

If you want to make your font sample larger or smaller just choose Edit > Preferences (Mac: Go to the Photoshop menu and choose Preferences). You could always use the keyboard shortcut Control/Command + K, too. You'll see the Preferences dialog open with the General preferences in view by default.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Photoshop's General Preferences window.

Step Four:

From the top drop-down menu, choose Type. The General preferences will then change to display the Type preferences. Here, you can change various type options, including whether or not to use smart quotes, Asian text options, font name options, and finally the font preview size.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Photoshop's Type preferences.

Step Five:

The first thing you can do is change the font preview size, which is set to medium by default. In this example, however, I’m changing the font preview size to small.

Figure 5a

Figure 5a Here, I’m changing the font preview size to small.

Figure 5b

Figure 5b As you can see here, this makes your font preview size very tiny.

Step Six:

You can also change the font preview size to large, which gives you a nice-sized preview of the font and makes it easier to decide whether or not to use it.

Figure 6

Figure 6 Changing the font preview size to large will give you a better idea of what the font looks like.

Step Seven:

Lastly, if for some reason this option really annoys you, you can always just shut it off by deselecting Font Preview Size under Type Options. After you’ve done this, click OK to exit the Preferences dialog. Now, when you go to the font picker, you won't see any font preview next to the font name.

Figure 7

Figure 7 Turning off Font Preview altogether.

That's it. No more aimless searching for just the right font. Even if you have no idea what the font name is, you can now quickly get a visual preview of what your fonts will look like.