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If you are a keyboard shortcut fanatic like I am, you'll love ExpressKeys, and even if you're not, I think you will find them highly useful. ExpressKeys' primary advantage is that, unlike the keyboard, they are located right on the surface of the tablet. They remind me a lot of the types of on-steering wheel controls you may find on autos these days. By their convenient location, they quickly become an extension of your hands while allowing you to stay focused on the display and your work.
Let's take a look at the actual Wacom driver here and make sure we're in ExpressKeys, and the other thing you want to be sure of is if I didn't pay attention up here, I could start to assign this and it would be assigned to all other by default. We must make sure we've selected Photoshop as our target for these particular shortcuts. What I want to do is use this bottom express key, and right now it's currently assigned to Pan/Scroll. I want to change that, so I'm going to go and open this up, and there are a series of default settings you can use, some of them are useful, some of them not so much.
And what I want to do in this case is use Keystroke, and I need to now assign a keystroke to this. One of the things I use in Photoshop all the time is creating a new layer, and on the Mac, the keyboard shortcut for that is Shift+Command+N, and so I need to put it in here. So I am going to go to my keyboard and just do Shift+Command+N. That enters it into the field where the keyboard shortcut will be accepted. Now we go down to Name, and I'm just going to call this New Layer, hit OK, and we're done.
Now let's jump over to Photoshop. And one of the things that will happen with ExpressKeys when you touch any of these ExpressKeys, it pops up an overlay that shows you what the settings are for the various buttons, and we can see down here at the very bottom, my bottom key is now set to new layer. So if I press on it, it allows me to create a new layer, and I can make any of the option changes I want, hit Return, and I've got my new layer. So that's one of the things you can do.
Now there may be times where you're going to want to assign a keyboard shortcut, but there isn't one, what do you do then? Well, we can go into the Edit menu in Photoshop, and if we drop all the way down to the bottom here, we have Keyboard Shortcuts. One of the Keyboard Shortcuts I use a lot is Sample All Layers, which is part of the Mixer Brush, and there are times where you want to toggle that on and off rather quickly. So what we need to do in that case is go to the Tools menu, and if I drop all the way down here to the bottom, we'll see that there is a command right here, Toggle Mixer Brush Sample All Layers.
It currently doesn't have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it, so I want to assign one. I just pressed on there, and that opens up that field for me to give it a keyboard shortcut. And in this case I'm going to use the semicolon. So let's press on that. Now I'm getting a warning, and this is kind of a problem with Photoshop, it's not so much of problem, what the problem is, almost every keyboard shortcut has been used in Photoshop. It's very rare that you'll find a keyboard shortcut that you can actually apply and not get this error message. So the one gotcha about this is you have got to make sure you're not giving up some functionality you may be used to.
Now I never use the Magnetic Pen or Magnetic Lasso tools, so this isn't a keyboard shortcut I'm going to miss, but you do want to make sure that the keyboard shortcut you're replacing isn't one that you previously were using all the time. So now that I've done that, I can say I accept that, and now I have a keyboard shortcut for Toggle Sample All Layers, so I'll say OK here. Now we need to return back to the System Preferences and our Wacom ExpressKeys panel, and let's take now this second to the bottom key.
So right now it's Option. And I'm going to go in here to Modifier. Once again, I'm going to use Keystroke in this case, and I'm going to enter my new keyboard shortcut, which is just the semicolon, and now I'll just, for a shortcut, I'm just going to call this, SAL, Sample All Layers, say OK. Once again, let's jump back in Photoshop, and if I go to a Mixer Bush, right here, you'll see right here, Sample All Layers.
It's very useful to be able to turn this and off at random. So I now have a keyboard shortcut when I click it, see how it went on, click it again, it's off. So now I've got a quick shortcut right available on the surface of the tablet that I can use to turn this on and off. The more you start to use these keys, the more you are going to find things you can do with it. Once you start using ExpressKeys, you'll find yourself coming up with various usages that will improve your workflow.
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