Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Using tools efficiently, part of Photoshop CS4 Essential Training.
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Photoshop's tools are among its most basic yet its most important features. The tools are located in the toolbox, which is in this single column on the left side of the screen. If you prefer a double-column toolbox, just click the double-pointed arrow at the top of the toolbox, and it will become a two-column toolbox. I am going to go back to a single column because that gives me more room for my document windows. The first thing to know about tools is that there are more than meets the eye. There are so many tools that they don't all fit in the toolbox.
So Adobe has hidden some tools behind others. If you see a tool that has an arrow like this one here, click on that tool and out will come a fly-out menu that gives you a list of related hidden tools. To select one of those hidden tools, you just move your mouse over it in the fly-out menu and release. Of course, before you can use a tool, you have to select it in the toolbox. One way to do that is as I just showed you. But there is another way to select tools and that's by using their shortcuts. You don't have to memorize all those shortcuts.
Instead, if you move your mouse over a tool in the toolbox and wait a moment, up will come a tool-tip that tells you the name of the tool and its shortcut. So I just learned that the shortcut for accessing the Move tool, which allows you to move the content of an image, is to press the V key. Using tool shortcuts will make you more efficient and more productive when you're working in Photoshop. When you select a tool in the toolbox, keep your eye on the Tool Options Bar above the document window, and you'll see that the options there change to become specific to the tool you've selected.
So right now, we're looking at the options for the Move tool. If I go down in the toolbox and I click on this big T, which is the icon for the Horizontal Type tool, the options in the Tool Options bar change again. So for example, with the Type tool, these options allow you to change the font, the font style, the font size and so on. If you're going to remember one thing from this movie, please take my advice on this. One of the most important things to know about tools is how to reset the options to their defaults.
I say this because some tool options are sticky. So in other words, if I were to select the Crop tool in the toolbox and then I went up to the Options bar and I typed in a Width and a Height, say 6in x 4in for inches, and I then dragged out a crop box in the image and clicked Return to crop my image, the settings I just chose in the Options bar would stay there and the next time I went to crop an image, I would be stuck with those settings unless I remembered to be reset that tool.
So here's how you reset a tool in Photoshop. No matter which tool you have selected, its icon will appear here on the left side of the Tool Options bar. On a Mac Ctrl+Click that icon, on a PC right-click that icon, to get this menu which allows you to reset the currently active tool or all the tools in your copy of Photoshop. If someone else has access to your copy of Photoshop, then I strongly suggest that you reset all tools whenever you begin working on that computer.
It's also a good idea to reset all your tools in between projects so you're not stuck with some old things that you don't expect. When you choose Reset All Tools, Photoshop asks if you really want to do that and you say OK, and notice then that those settings that I had in the Crop tool options, for example, have now disappeared. I am not going to go through the individual tools and ask you to memorize what they do. I think the best way for you to learn how to use tools is in context and that's what we are going to give as we move through this course, and you become familiar with the tools in Photoshop CS4.
- Learning and customizing the interface and workspace
- Utilizing various manual and guided selection techniques
- Working with Adobe Camera Raw
- Adding special effects with layer styles and Smart Filters
- Creating Photomerge panoramas
- Optimizing photos for the web and creating web galleries