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Photoshop's preferences control how some basic functions work under the hood. You can get right down in there, and change the preferences to your liking. Let me show you how to access preferences and suggest some preference settings that you might want to change in your copy of Photoshop. To open preferences, I'm going to go to the Photoshop menu on a Mac or the Edit menu on a PC, and I am going to choose Preferences and then I'll choose General. In the column on the left, there are categories of preferences. Let's take a look at the Interface Preferences here in the column on the left, and there is a preference that I sometimes change here.
That's the one for showing tooltips. A tooltip is the little yellow box that pops up when you hover over a tool or a command. Tooltips can be useful when you're first learning Photoshop, but as you get better at the program, they sometimes interfere or distract. So you may want to turn them off by unchecking this field. And if you want to turn off the new docked tabs feature, you can uncheck these two check marks here, at the bottom of the Panels & Documents section. I'm going to go to the File Handling section of Preferences because I want to show you this preference, Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility.
It's a long phrase, but basically what it means is when you go to save a document, do you want Photoshop to create a hidden composite layer that contains the contents of all the other layers in the file. That's generally a safe thing to do because it helps other programs and older versions of Photoshop read your Photoshop files. The default behavior here is Ask, which means that every time you go and save a file, Photoshop is going to ask you if you want to do that. I'd suggest changing this to Always so that the behavior always happens behind the scenes and you don't have to deal with it every time you save a file.
The next category of Preferences deals with Photoshop's performance. In Photoshop CS4, there are some new features based on OpenGL technology. I'll be showing you some of those features in the movie on panning and zooming. If you are not getting the kind of results that I show you in those movies, you might want to come here into this Performance category of Preferences, and take a look at the video card that Photoshop is detecting on your machine. I'm going to go to the Cursors category now and suggest that you change the way that the Brush Tip is displayed on your Painting Cursors.
If you leave this set to Normal Brush Tip and you use a soft edged or fussy brush, the round icon that represents the circumference of the brush won't really tell you everywhere that the brush is going to put down some pixels. So change that to Full Size Brush Tip to get a better sense of where your soft-edged brushes are going to be painting. And that applies not just to the Brush tool, but to other tools that use a brush tip, like the Dodge tool and the Burn tool, the Sharpen tool, the Healing Brush tools, the Clone Stamp tool and the Eraser tools.
The other thing that I like to do is check Show Crosshair in Brush Tip. And you can see in this little icon that now you'll get a crosshair indicating the center of every brush stroke. Over here on the right, you can change the way that your other kinds of cursors are displayed. If you like seeing a little icon of the particular tool you're using, leave this set to Standard. But if you want to see more precisely where your tool is going to do its work, you can change this to Precise and then you get this little target icon on every tool. I'm going to go back to Standard so that you can see what tool I'm using, as we work through the course.
I would like to show you one more preference, and that's in the Units & Rulers category here. By default the Rulers field is set to Inches, which means that the rulers that you can display at the top end side of your document window will measure in inches. But if you are a Web designer, you may want to come in and change the default unit of measurement in your rulers to pixels. If you only do Web design occasionally, you can leave this set to Inches and change your rulers on a case-by-case basis, as I showed you how to do in the interface overview movie.
When you're done making your changes in Preferences, you want to click OK. Some of the preferences will take effect right away, but a few of them require you to restart Photoshop before you notice any difference. So those were some suggestions for customizing Photoshop's preferences to personalize the program, so that it better serves the way that you work in Photoshop.
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