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7 Photoshop Tricks That Are Hidden in Plain Sight


Adobe’s Photoshop is such a complex piece of software that even professionals find new features and settings every now and then. This 7-minute video from Colin Smith of PhotoshopCAFE explores 7 Photoshop tricks that may be new to you even if you’ve been using PS for a long time.

1. Tab Information

When you have a file open in Photoshop, a tab is displayed at the top of the window with the filename. If you have not looked closely, you may not have noticed that it includes some other useful information.

From left to right: the file name, the magnification level, the layer name and type, and finally an asterisk if the file is unsaved.

The layer type is dynamic depending on what kind of channel you have selected. Smith shows that if you create a layer mask, it will read “Layer Mask” when the mask is selected, and “RGB” when the RGB channel is selected. This will also show “Red”, “Green”, or “Blue” if you have only one of those channels selected, “CMYK” if you’re using CMYK color, etc.

2. Show More Than 25 Recent Documents

If you go to File>Open Recent, Photoshop will show the most recent 25 documents that you have opened. You may not know that you can change the number of documents listed here by going to Photoshop>Preferences>File Handling and changing the number at the bottom of the dialog.

3. Managing Presets

When you’ve been using Photoshop for a while, you may end up with a lot of presets. To see a list of your brushes, swatches, gradients, styles, etc all in one place, go to Edit>Presets>Preset Manager. From here, you’ll be able to load them, create new sets, back them up, etc.

4. Resetting Tools

Say you’ve selected your Brush Tool, and you’ve changed the opacity, flow, blend mode, and any other settings. If you want to get back to the Photoshop defaults for that tool, you can right click on the selected tool icon in the top left, and select “Reset Tool”.

You also have the more drastic option to “Reset All Tools”, which will reset every tool in the toolbox to their defaults.

5. Resetting Photoshop

If you’ve been running in to some odd bugs in Photoshop or just want to completely restore the entire program to default settings, there’s a way to do this with a keyboard shortcut. Note that this will completely delete all your preferences and settings for the application, so only do this if you really want to hit the reset button.

If you want to do this, hold down Shift+Option+Cmd (Shift+Alt+Ctrl for Windows) while launching Photoshop. You will be prompted to delete the Adobe Photoshop Settings File, so go ahead and click Yes.

6. Reset Dialog Box

If you’re working inside a Filter dialog box and have adjusted your settings but not applied them, you can reset them back to the Filter’s default if you’re not happy with what you’ve done.

While inside the dialog box, hold down your Option key (Alt on Windows), and all ‘Cancel’ buttons will turn in to ‘Reset’ buttons. Clicking ‘Reset’ will reset that dialog box to its factory default.

7. Document Status Bar

At the bottom of every Photoshop tab is a status bar that displays some information about the document. You may not know that you can change what this displays by clicking the little arrow next to it.

One thing you may want to show is the document dimensions. By default it displays in inches, but you can switch this to pixels, millimeters, and various other options. To do this, first display your Rulers by hitting Cmd-R (Ctrl-R on Windows). Right click on the ruler, and you will see a list of units. Select the unit that you are looking for, and your rulers and the status bar will update.

Hopefully you’ve learned something new today! Check out the video at the top for all of these tricks in action, and then subscribe to the PhotoshopCAFE YouTube channel if you’d like some more Photoshop tips like these.