Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video Essential Preferences, part of Photoshop CS2 Essential Training.
>>Michael Ninness: I'm going to walk through some basic preferences that you should be aware of when you're first starting out with Photoshop. To get to the Preferences on the PC it's under Edit, Preferences. I believe on the Macintosh it would be under the Photoshop menu on the far left of your screen. And you can either jump to the specific preference that you want to change, or you can just start at the very basic ones, the General Preferences, which is also either Command, or Control + K, and brings you up to the rather large dialog box. And I'm not going to run through every single one of these options here. We'll talk through the ones that are really important to know as a beginner.
The first one is Image Interpolation. The default is set to Bicubic, and if you want more specific information about what I'm talking about here, in the Digital Image Essentials chapter, I talk about resizing images and re-sampling them, and we talk specifically about what the interpolation engines are doing. But as a summary here, generally when you are making images smaller, you want to choose Bicubic Sharper. When you're making images larger, you want to use Bicubic Smoother.
Normally this is an option you would choose in the Image Size dialog box, but you can set the default setting for the Image Size dialog box here in your Preferences dialog. I'm going to choose Bicubic Sharper, because a majority of the time you're making your images smaller rather than larger. And it's important to choose the Interpolation algorithm as a preference here, because this also controls what algorithm is being used when you transform or scale or crop an image inside Photoshop. History States is another important one.
This basically determines the number of undos you have in Photoshop. The default is 20. The higher the number, the more memory, or the more RAM, Photoshop needs to use to keep steps in memory. So that's why the default side is actually relatively small, but I find that I rarely need to go back more than 20 times. So just keep that in mind. You can increase the number, but it also increases the amount of RAM that Photoshop will need. Show Tool Tips, you've seen in earlier movies that, you know like when you mouse over a tool, it will tell you the name of the tool and give you the keyboard shortcut for that.
If you find the Tool Tips annoying over time as you become more advanced, if you don't like those little yellow balloons flashing everywhere on your screen, you can certainly turn that off. This one, Zoom Resizes Windows, it's turned off by default. Let's go ahead and turn that on. Actually, leave it off first and then we'll come back and turn it back on. And if you're using the keyboard shortcut to resize your image, Control + Plus or Minus, or on the Mac Command + Plus or Minus. If I do Control + Plus, you'll see that the image gets larger, but the Document window itself does not get larger, only the image inside the window is getting larger.
Or if I go down, Control or Command + Minus, the image is getting smaller, but the Document window is not changing size. If I go back to the Preferences Dialog, Control or Command + K, and turn on the Zoom Resizes Window shortcut, and now go ahead and click OK. Now when I do Control + Minus, you'll see that the window size also gets smaller. And if I do Control + Plus, the window size also gets bigger, up to the maximum allowed by what we call the Palette Protection. Once it gets to the edge of the palettes it's going to stop growing.
Control + Minus will take us back down. I actually really like this modified behavior, so back in my preferences I'm going to leave that on, Zoom Resizes Windows. And then again that only affects the keyboard shortcut method for zooming the Command + Plus or Minus, or Control + Plus and Minus on Windows, it does not affect using the Magnifying Glass tool itself, which is another reason why I like keeping that shortcut that's turned on, the Zoom Resizes Windows checkbox on, because now I've got two ways to zoom. If I use my Magnifying Glass tool, I know that the Document window size will not get larger or smaller.
And if I use the keyboard shortcut, Plus or Minus, I know that the Document window will get larger or smaller. So I can choose which one I want to use based on what I want to do. Another kind of controversial one is the Use Shift Key for Tool Switch. In previous versions of Photoshop it used to be that you didn't have to hold down the Shift key, and then they came out with a version where you did have to hold it down, some people got upset by that. So now it's a preference. If you don't want to be able to hold the Shift key down to switch from tool to tool within a given slot, you can turn that off.
This automatically launched Bridge, this is new to Photoshop CS2. the Bridge, the Adobe Bridge, is a separate application that can be used to preview and launch files. You can do a bunch of other stuff inside the Bridge as well, like work with camera raw files. There's a separate chapter just on the Bridge in this title, so you can check that out. What this preference does is it automatically launches the Bridge when you open up Photoshop. It launches it in the background so that the first time you go click on the Bridge button, which you can see back here in the background, or you use the Menu command, you won't have to wait for the Bridge to launch the first time, it will already be open in the background.
So I typically like to leave that on so that the Bridge does launch whenever I open up Photoshop. Another option here is the Zoom with Scroll Wheel, if you have a mouse that's got a scroll wheel on it, which a large percentage of you do unless you're on a Macintosh. Actually just as a pet peeve, I recommend if you're on the Mac, invest in a two- or three-button mouse, or at least a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel. Photoshop is one of the applications that does very well with contextual menus. So a right-click is easier than holding on the Control key to get your contextual menus.
So anyway, no flames, I work both ways, Mac or PC, doesn't matter to me. It's just that if you're on a Mac, it's very helpful to get a mouse with a scroll wheel and two buttons. If this is turned on, the Zoom with Scroll Wheel, go ahead and click that on, you can now. I'm just rolling the scroll wheel in the middle of my mouse to zoom in and out of an image, which is kind of nice. When that is turned off, lets go back to Preferences, Zoom with Scroll Wheel, that's not turned on, then the scroll wheel is used for panning up and down. So if we zoom in on this image a little bit further, and we zoom up or down, or scroll up or down, I'm just using my wheel to do that.
To go left and right, you would hold down the Control key and use the scroll wheel, and you can pan left or right. Or if you're on a Mac with a scroll wheel mouse, holding down the Command key and moving up or down the scroll wheel will pan you left and right. Without the Control or Command key, up and down, with the Control key, left and right, or the Command key left and right on the Mac. Control + K, it'll go back to Preferences, and if I turn that back on, now instead of panning up and down, without holding down any modifier keys, the scroll wheel is used to zoom in and out of the image.
You can still pan with the scroll wheel by holding down the Option key on the Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, and it basically just gives you the same behavior that you had before you turned on that preference. And again if I hold down Control and Alt, or Command and Option, I can scroll left and right. OK? Let's take that back to the Fit to Window command, and I can get that back to where we want to see the image. OK, let's go back to Preferences, Control + K, or Command + K, and that's all I'm going to say for the general preferences. We'll get the Next button, that's the same thing as just going up to the pop-up menu and choosing the next one down, so File Handling.
What I want to mention here is the Maximize PSD File Compatibility option, the default is set to Ask. This is a little bit annoying, because every time you save a layered file, you're going to get a dialog box saying: "Are you sure you want to maximize the Photoshop compatibility?" And of course you always do. So you would want to change this to Always, and not get that annoying dialog box coming up every time you save a layered document. Basically for translating this into English, when you have a multiple layer document, maximizing the PSD file compatibility, when this is turned on, it's saving a flattened version of the layered document inside the layered document.
So that when you take it to an application that doesn't support the layers, you still see a composite version of the file. In the Display & Cursors category, there's a couple new options here worth mentioning. The default cursor for your Painting tools is the normal brush tip. This was always a little bit misleading in previous versions of Photoshop, and I'm going to leave it on the default and show you what I mean by that. If I'd choose a brush by clicking on the Brush tool, and I've got a pretty big cursor here, but you can see in my Brush Softness here, it's a very soft brush.
So the circle is actually not an accurate picture of how far the paint might be coming down when I paint with my brush. You can see when I painted here, I'll just paint a couple strokes here, the soft paint kind of goes a little up beyond the edge of that circle and it's hard to tell where that fall-off is really going to end. So if I go back to Preferences, under Edit, Preferences, and choose Display & Cursors, the new option here is the Full Brush Size Tip. And if I go ahead and click OK, you'll see that I haven't changed brush size at all, it's still the 200 brush, but the cursor, the circle is much bigger on my screen.
That more accurately represents the fall-off on the soft edge there. You can also see that the edge of the brush itself looks a little rough, that's meant to signify that it's a soft edge there instead of a hard line. One other thing to mention there on the Display options here is if you turn on Show Crosshair in Brush Tip, that just gives you a real easy way to see the center of your brush. Can be very handy when you're trying to line things up as you're painting. So a couple of different options there for your display cursors. Going back to Preferences, Control or Command + K, and let's go through. There's Display & Cursors, lets go to Next, Transparency & Gamut, nothing I'm going to mention here other than if you don't like the gray checkerboard for representing transparency, you can either change that to a different color, or turn off the grid altogether.
Some people like to do that, especially if they don't like that noisy pattern in the background there. Units & Rulers, if you want to change your measurement system from inches to pixels, you can certainly do that here by changing your units right there. And then finally the last category I really want to talk about is the Memory & Image Cache options, and the maximum amount of RAM used by Photoshop. This is a percentage of your installed memory, and typically you want to give Photoshop as much memory as possible, however you don't want to max it, you don't want to make it 100 percent.
You still need memory left over for your operating systems, so you can do things like print and save and things like that. But certainly with almost two gigabytes of RAM installed on this machine, I've got a lot of leeway here, I could probably crank this up to something more like 80 percent of my available RAM, and this will not change Photoshop until the next time you quit and restart. But just keep in mind that if you want to give Photoshop access to more RAM, you can increase that amount. I said that was the last one, but there's actually one more Preferences category that I want to talk about. And this is new to Photoshop CS2 as well, it's the Font Preview Size, and the default is set to Medium.
Let's go take a look at that, what I mean. If I switch to the Type tool and when I click on the font field, you'll see now that we have what we call WYSIWYG Font Menus. WYSIWYG standing for "What you see is what you get." So in addition to actually seeing the name of the font like, Verdona, to the right you see the word Sample in that actual typeface. So the name of the font on the left is currently being displayed in your system font, whatever you've got that set to. But on the right, you're actually seeing the word Sample in the actual typeface of that particular font.
You can see the default size of medium for this text here on the right, isn't all that big, especially for the quiggly wiggly typeface. The word Sample there is very hard to make out. So let's go back to our Preferences, Control + K, or Command + K, choose Type, and let's change the font preview size to Large and click OK. Now when we come back to our font menu, you can see I get a much larger size there to preview the font on the right. So if we go back to quiggly wiggly, we, I just like to say quiggly wiggly, we can see the typeface a little bit better.
So again, I didn't go through every single preference, but the basic ones that you might need to know about as a beginner are there for you. And I hope you found that helpful.