The preferences are under the Edit menu, so choose Edit ➪ Preferences ➪ General to bring the Preferences dialog box up in the General pane, as shown in Figure 2.16. All the options available in the Preferences menu are also available in the left pane of the Preferences dialog box, with the exception of the Camera Raw preferences. Simply click them to display the pane you want.
Before you get started setting preferences, though, you’ll probably want to know how to restore the Adobe presets, just in case. To restore all the settings to the Adobe defaults, press and hold the Ctrl+Alt/Option+Shift (Windows) keys while you open Photoshop. You are asked if you want to delete the current settings. You have a second option if you are running the Mac OS: Open the Preferences folder inside the Library folder, and drag the CS settings to the trash. The folder is automatically re-created the next time Photoshop starts.
The Preferences dialog box allows you to customize many of the settings in Photoshop.
The General panel has several basic options that either apply to Photoshop as a whole or just don’t fit well into any other menu:
- Color Picker: Several applications of Photoshop require you to choose a color—most notably, when you choose a new background or foreground color using the color control displayed in the Toolbox. You use a color picker to choose a color. Color pickers are usually color wheels or a color palette. The Adobe color picker is the default used, and in many cases it’s the best choice; it was custom designed for Photoshop, after all. You also have the option to use the standard color picker for your operating system—Mac OS orWindows. At some point, you may install plug-ins that give you additional color picker options. They also are displayed in the Color Picker drop-down menu.
- HUD Color Picker: This allows you to define the style of color picker that is used by the HUD (Heads Up Display).
- Image Interpolation: When images are resized, transformed, or otherwise manipulated, pixels are added or taken away to make up the difference. This is called interpolation, and the method of interpolation determines not only the quality of the resulting image but the speed with which the image is processed. Figure 2.17 shows examples of an image of a rose increased four times using each method of interpolation. I zoomed way in so the difference would be much more obvious.
You can change the image interpolation in the Image Size dialog box. A drop-down menu includes all the
options available. The option you set in the preferences is the default in the Image Size dialog box.
- Nearest Neighbor (preserve hard edges): If you select Nearest Neighbor, Photoshop simply copies the pixels and creates identical pixels next to them. This is a much faster process, but for obvious reasons, it creates an image with jagged edges.
- Bi-linear: The Bi-linear method of interpolation takes the four surrounding pixels and averages them to create the new pixel. This is a softer look than the Nearest Neighbor option, creating a smoother image but at the sacrifice of sharpness.
- Bicubic (best for smooth gradients): The Bicubic option goes one better than the Bi-linear option by using the eight surrounding pixels to create an average. It also creates more contrast between the pixels, restoring some sharpness to the image.
- Bicubic Smoother (best for enlargement): Bicubic Smoother is designed to create the smoothest possible transition when enlarging an image. It reduces the jagged edges and overall “filled-in” look you get when pixels are created to fill in the gaps of an image.
- Bicubic Sharper (best for reduction): Bicubic Sharper uses the Bicubic method of interpolation and adds a sharpening filter to further increase the sharpness of the pixels. This option is best for reducing the file size.
The image interpolation option affects the quality and look of the final image.
It should be obvious from reading about image interpolation that the more you manipulate an image, the more that image deteriorates. Although some changes are usually necessary to get the results you desire, be careful how many steps you take to create those changes. If you want to make an image smaller, for instance, and you reduce it more than you anticipated, don’t just make the reduced image larger. Step backward and undo the first resize and then try reducing again.
- Auto-Update Open Documents: When this option is checked, Photoshop automatically checks the hard disk for changes made to any open file and updates the file to reflect the saved changes. The best time to use this option is when two or more collaborators are working on the same file and you want to keep up with the changes being made by others.
- Beep When Done: If you select this option, Photoshop beeps whenever it finishes an operation. This could be useful if you are making less obvious changes and want to be sure the operation is finished, or you’re making more time-consuming operations and you want to walk away from your computer while they process.
- Dynamic Color Sliders: When you open Adobe’s color picker, you use a color slider to change the range of colors visible in the color selection box. With Dynamic Color Sliders turned on, as you move the slider, the box changes color in real time. The only reason to turn it off is if you are using a computer that was built sometime in the last millennium and it just can’t handle the real-time change without slowing you down.
- Export Clipboard: This option copies Photoshop’s clipboard to the operating system’s clipboard, allowing you to copy or cut from Photoshop and paste into other applications.
- Use Shift Key for Tool Switch: The Toolbox includes “tool drawers” or more than one tool hiding behind the visible icons in the Toolbox. Hotkeys also provide access to these tools. With this option on, you need to press the Shift key and the hotkey to switch tools.If this option is turned off, pressing the hotkey more than once cycles through the available tools.
- Resize Image during Paste/Place: When you are pasting or placing an image into another document, having this option on resizes it to the base document specs. For instance, if I am placing a very large file into an open image that is much smaller, the document resizes to fit into the smaller canvas area. If this option is not turned on, the larger document may overlap the canvas area and the entire image isn’t visible. Keep in mind that any resizing compromises the image quality and should be kept to a minimum if possible.
- Animated Zoom: Use this option to continuously zoom with the Zoom tool by holding down the left mouse button. It’s a great way to have control over how far you want to zoom in (or out), but be warned: It can be a little slow with larger files.
- Zoom Resizes Windows: This option works only if you are using floating windows for each of your documents. These windows are resized as your images are resized. This eliminates the white space around images that have been reduced and keeps the images that you’ve zoomed into in view, instead of hanging out of the edges of your window. If you use floating windows very often, I suggest turning this option on.
- Zoom with Scroll Wheel: This is my personal favorite zoom preference to turn on. With this option activated, you can use the scroll wheel of your mouse to zoom in and out of the selected image. No looking around for the Zoom tool or trying to remember its hotkey; just use the scroll wheel, and you can take a closer look at that area of your image you are trying to get just right and then zoom right back out to fit it in the screen.
- Zoom Point Clicked to Center: When you click an area of your image with the Zoom tool, it zooms into that area generally, and with the Zoom Point Clicked to Center option turned on, the area you click becomes the center of the zoomed image.
- Enable Flick Panning: When this option is enabled, you can use the Hand tool to click the document, drag quickly and then release the mouse button, and the document continues to pan just as if you had flicked it.
- Place or Drag Raster Images as Smart Objects: When this option is selected, raster images in layers can be dragged and placed. Photoshop does this by temporarily converting them to Smart Objects and then back to raster. This option can use up lots of processing power, so you should enable it only if you are willing to sacrifice some computer speed.
- History Log: This option lets you keep a log of what editing has been done to the file using the following settings:
- Save Logs To: The Save Logs To option lets you store the history as metadata inside the image file itself, as a separate text file, or both. Keeping Log as Metadata makes the history data easily transferred between systems, but it increases the size of the file, and you need to remove the history before distributing it to others.
- Edit Log Items: This option allows you to specify how detailed the history is. The Session Only option records only the date and time you edit the file in Photoshop. The Concise option also records the text that appears in the history panel. The Detailed option additionally records the commands used to edit the file. Obviously, the more detailed the history, the more the file size grows.
- Reset all Warning Dialog Boxes: This option enables any warning dialog boxes that have
been disabled by selecting the warning dialog box’s “Don’t Show Again” option.
- Photoshop Workspace
- Workspace Overview
- The Document Workspace
- The Application Bar
- The Workspace Presets
- The Toolbox and Tool Options Bar
- Cruising Main Menus
- Understanding Panels
- Understanding Tools in Toolbox
- Using Presets
- Setting Preferences
- Interface Preferences
- File Handling Preferences
- Transparency Gamut Preferences
- Customizing Shortcuts and Menus