Now that’s you’ve seen most of the major adjustment-related changes in CS4, let’s take a look at some of the less visible alterations.
Pop-Up Menu Shortcuts: Some of the keyboard shortcuts you may be accustomed to using when applying an adjustment have changed. When Adobe started moving away from the modal design of Adjustment Layers, they needed to make sure that any keyboard shortcuts that were specific to an adjustment did not interfere with the ones used by the other features in Photoshop.
A big conflict arose when it came to holding Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Win) and typing a number, a shortcut already being used to view various channels in the Channels panel. That same shortcut was used in adjustment dialog boxes to target (not view) a particular channel, so they needed to make a change. You now hold the Option key (Mac), or Alt key (Win) and type a number to choose a channel within adjustments like Levels and Curves. The numbers you type will also be off by two. Meaning that if you’re accustomed to using the number 1 to get to the red channel, you’ll now have to use the number 3 for the same task.
More Adjustments Have Presets: It’s now possible to create and use presets with Levels and Hue/Saturation adjustments. That also means that two new folders have been added to the Photoshop>Presets directory on your hard drive to accompany those new presets.
Histogram Defaults: Adobe has changed the default setting for the Histogram panel so that it more closely reflects the look of histograms found in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. The histogram now displays an overlay of the red, green and blue channels that make up your image.
If you prefer the old look of the Histogram panel, choose Expanded View from the side menu of the panel and change the Channel pop-up menu at the top of the panel to RGB.
That’s it for my coverage of the new adjustment features in CS4. Each new version of Photoshop brings with it a standout feature that truly advances the evolution of the program and dramatically improves the overall experience of working with it. For many (including me), this feature will be the new Adjustments panel. Being able to get away from those the traditional, straightjacket-style modal dialog boxes is like being able to play the piano with both hands, instead of with one tied behind your back. Mind you, there are still plenty of those crusty, old dialog boxes lurking in many other corners of Photoshop, but ain’t it grand to have a place to get away from them?