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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Another thing you'll be doing all the time in Photoshop is editing values of things. So for instance, changing the type size or changing the position of a drop shadow, or changing the intensity of some adjustment or whatever. Anything that has a slider or a text field where you need to change those incremental values. So let me show you some ways to actually make that faster. Here I have a text layer and I'm going to go ahead and get my Text tool by pressing the T on my keyboard and you'll see I've got a type size field here in the Options Bar. It's got a little label, double T and the current value is 273 points. Now what a lot of people do is they click into that field and that's problematic for the reason because you haven't selected everything in that field.
So if you start typing a new value, you are going to be inserting your new characters in the middle of these existing characters. So tip number one is to instead of clicking in the field, click on the label, and that highlights everything in that particular field. Now you can just type right over it and it's going to replace the existing text. So if I wanted this to be say 300, I just type 300. I hit Enter to apply that value change. Okay, if I want to change it again, I can click on the value and if I don't know the specific number I want to use, I just want to experiment and increment, you want to combine the label trick with your arrow key trick.
The arrow keys, the Up and Down Arrow keys, change your value by 1 increment. So here I'm changing it down one point at a time by using my Down Arrow. The Up Arrow of course makes it bigger. If you want to accelerate the value of change there, hold down the Shift key to do it ten times more than just doing it with the Arrow key by itself. So if I do Shift+Up Arrow, I go up at 10 point increments. Shift+Down Arrow goes down at 10 point increments. Okay, so just a very quick way to experiment. When you don't know the specific value you are looking for, you just increment it with your arrow keys. Again hit Enter to apply that.
This works in any dialog or panel where there are text input fields, okay. So to give you an example of a panel. Let's go to the Background layer here and we are going to do a Vibrance adjustment layer, where we want the orange of the trees to be more vibrant. You'll see that the Adjustments panel has a couple of text fields here, Vibrance and Saturation. Yes, I can go and click in that field or I can click on the label. The contents of that text field to get selected and I can now start using my arrow keys to increment that up. Again, hold down the Shift key to increment it faster than just using the arrow keys by themselves. When I'm done with that, I hit Return and I've got my adjustment.
One more time, seeing this in a dialog . If I double-click on this Drop Shadow effect, it open up the Layer Style dialog box. You can see again one other tip. Hitting the Tab key will jump you from field to field. So again you don't have to take your hands off the keyboard. You can navigate within a dialog box by hitting your Tab key. Shift+ Tab of course goes backwards. So if I go to Distance and I start using my arrow keys again, I can interactively change the distance of this Drop Shadow, its offset. Holding down the Shift key of course will do it in the 10-time increments again and so I can do it really precisely, just by using my Arrow keys. Tab to go to the next value, Tab again to go to the next value, and now I can start changing my size as well.
So basic stuff. It's available on any panel or dialog where there is a text field. Click on the label, selects the value, Tab key jumps to the next field. Using your arrow keys you can just increment the values. Add Shift to that to do it in bigger increments. Put those three techniques into your everyday practice and you'll find yourself becoming much more efficient and quicker inside Photoshop.
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