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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.
So, if you have been using Photoshop for a while, you may have memorized certain keyboard shortcuts for the Image > Adjustment commands and by those commands I mean things like Levels and Curves and Hue/Saturation and whatnot. So, Command+L brings up Levels. Command+ M brings up Curves, Ctrl+M on a PC. I'm just hitting Escape to get rid of that dialog box. Command+U or Ctrl+U to bring up Hue/Saturation. So pretty standard stuff. These are all the Adjustment menu commands under the Image > Adjustments menu and you can see many of them do have keyboard shortcuts by default. New to Black & White has its own keyboard shortcut, Command+Option+Shift+B or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+B, so that's kind of cool.
But the problem is that these commands under the Image > Adjustments menu, these are all destructive. They all work on the original layer, whatever layer you have and they are making pixel changes to the given layer. Hopefully, by now you've learned or discovered about adjustment layers, and as a matter of fact, in CS4 it's kind of hard not to discover them because they have created a new Adjustments panel. But under the Layer menu there is New Adjustment Layer and you can see many of these are the exact same commands that we just saw under the Image > Adjustments menu. So Hue/Saturation, Levels, Curves and whatnot.
If I open up the Levels dialog, you will see it's actually not a dialog anymore. First, it intercepts the menu command. It says, do you want to give this is a name? I'm just going to click OK. And you will see now, instead of opening the Levels dialog, it brings the Adjustments panel to the front and sets it to the Levels adjustment and it creates a nondestructive layer-- the adjustment layer for Levels. So now if I make any sort of adjustment here and I'll just go around and do something that is noticeably different. That's now a nondestructive layer, right? I can turn that eye off, turn it on. I can delete the layer. I can change the Opacity. I can do whatever I want to.
I am going to go ahead and just trash the adjustment. Now the bottom of the Adjustments panel itself has its own Trashcan. Go ahead and delete that layer and I'm going to turn on the checkbox that says Don't show again. Yes go away. So for those of you who have learned Command+L, Command+M, Command+U and so forth, what I'm going to suggest is that you work smarter. Rather than have those shortcuts assigned to the destructive version of those commands, why don't we remap them to open up the nondestructive versions of those commands? I mean, when would you not want to use an adjustment layer? Pretty much 99 out of 100 times, you are going to want the flexibility to have it be nondestructive. Every once in a while you just do that real quick Levels adjustment and you don't worry about it being an adjustment layer. But for the most part, you want to start using adjustment layers, if you aren't already.
So let's go change our keyboard shortcuts. Under the Edit menu > Keyboard Shortcuts or Command+Option+Shift+K, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K, bring open the Keyboard Shortcut Editor and these commands are not under the Image menu, right? They are under the Layer menu and we'll scroll down until we get to New Adjustment Layers and let's see. There is Levels. And you would just type the keyboard shortcut. Well, what's the existing keyboard shortcut? Command+L, right? So Command+L or Ctrl+L. Curves is Command+U or Ctrl+U on Windows. And then Hue/Saturation, Command+U for Hue/ Saturation. Same thing with Black & White.
Command+Option+Shift+B or Ctrl+Alt+ Shift+B and we have just remapped our keyboard shortcuts to use the smart version of these adjustments. So I'm going to go ahead and click OK and now anytime I want a Curves, Levels, Hue/Saturation or Black & White adjustment layer, I have got a keyboard shortcut just for that. So if I do Command+Option+Shift+B, it brings up this dialog box, where I can give it a name or I can just hit Return and voila! I have my Black & White adjustment layer created for me. I like this even better than the Adjustment panel itself because I'm still getting used to these icons and I have to basically hover over them, until I figure out which one is which because it gives me a little tooltip explanation up there at the top.
So I just find assigning the keyboard shortcut is a lot easier and I have already made the investment to remember those shortcuts. So there you have it. Work smarter. Reassign those keyboard shortcuts to get the smart version of those adjustments instead of their destructive versions.
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