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Another part of progressing beyond the novice level of computer user is being able to quickly determine which applications to use to accomplish various tasks. Now there is a world of computer software out there and we can't possibly address all the different types here, but the most common types of software are probably word processors, image editors, graphic designer page layout programs, spreadsheet applications and possibly video or audio editing applications. And it seems like an obvious point, but you should do your best to create your documents and files in the most appropriate applications. For example, I have Adobe Photoshop open right now, which is an image editing application, but I could create a new blank Photoshop document like I have done here.
Select the Text tool and start typing out a letter. But Photoshop isn't really designed for working with lots of text. It's great at incorporating text in to images, but not for just working with a large amount of text. Photoshop is an image editing program and should be used for editing images. For writing papers or letters, you really should use a word processor like Microsoft Word. Word processors are designed to work with primarily text. And you'll just find more tools and controls for working with text, especially multiple pages of text in a word processor, than you'll find in Photoshop.
And along those lines if you're gong to be creating a long document that incorporates both text and images, word processors will work, but you might want to consider even more specialized software like Adobe InDesign, which is page layout program and it offers much more powerful tools for laying out documents like brochures, advertisements, booklets, and the like. And when you are working in a page layout program you most likely won't be working with it exclusively. Since your brochure or booklet will probably incorporate images, you'll have to work with an image editing program like Photoshop to process and prep your images before placing them into your layout.
Now word processors, like Word, do have some image editing capabilities, but they are severely limited when compared to dedicated image editors like Photoshop. Again, it's all about finding the right tool for the job. If you need to design your own graphics or logo, for example, you might find yourself working in Adobe Illustrator, as well as InDesign and Photoshop. And soon you'll be working with an entire suite of applications and it's important to understand which program to use for which task. Now part of this process is just taking the time to read up on the software you have installed on your computer or the software you're considering purchasing.
Also often manufactures have web sites where they offer information on their products. For example, I can open up Internet Explorer, which is my web browser, and go to adobe.com. And I can read up on any of their products here. For example, I'll click on the Illustrator link, and maybe in here I'll click what is Illustrator and check it out for Design Projects. And here I can read up on what Illustrator is and after looking at this I can say okay, it's a drawing program.
Also notice that Adobe offers to let you try their products, so you could download a working copy of Illustrator or the entire suite and use it for a month. Many software companies offer free or limited trial versions of their software so you can run them through their paces and determine if it suits your needs. And as you familiarize yourself with what software is available out there, you'll be better equipped to determine which applications to use for which task. Now if you're working entirely on your own, there is not really a hard and fast rule saying you can't use Photoshop to type a lot of text. If the only thing that matters to you is your final product and you're comfortable in using Photoshop to work with text, there's technically nothing wrong with that.
But if you're going to be collaborating with others, it becomes especially important to use the software appropriate to the task. In which case sending a Photoshop document with text for some one to copyedit isn't a great idea, because Photoshop doesn't offer copyediting tools like say Microsoft Word does. Also when collaborating with others, you need to be able to make sure that they'll be able to open and work with the files you send them. If you going to send a Word document they'll need to have Word or some Word compatible software on their computers too. I the later chapter I talk about some things you can do like converting your documents to PDF to ensure that any one can open and read your files.
But when it comes to collaborating on files, the best solution is for every one involved to have and use the same software. So we should take some time to familiarize yourself with the software that's already installed on your computer. If you're not sure what it does, look it up online. Or check out the software built-in Help menu. For example, I could go in to InDesign, click the Help menu and open up InDesign Help and read the user manual for InDesign. If you don't have the software you need to accomplish your tasks, ask around your office or school for suggestions on which software you should acquire.
If you work with others you'll probably find that some or all of them have the necessary software installed on their computers, and it should be relatively easy to get recommendations of what software you need to accomplish your tasks.
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