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Photoshop's Tool Presets

What if Photoshop had a separate tool for every variation of every option? What if there was one Crop tool to create 4x6 inch images at 240 dpi, another Crop tool for 8x10 at 300 dpi, another for 800x600 pixels at 72 dpi, and so on. The Toolbox would be pretty crowded. Photoshop 7 offers the convenience of pre-set tools without the clutter of a giant Toolbox.

The Options Bar (and prior to Photoshop 6, the Options palette) gives us the capability of customizing a tool for a specific purpose. We can set the size of a crop, pick a font for the Type tool, choose feathering for a selection tool, and much more. In Photoshop 7, you can actually save those sets of options as Tool Presets. In effect, you're creating a whole set of customized variations of a single tool.

The Tool Presets palette can display presets for a specific tool or all of the saved presets for all of the tools.

As you can see, the Tool Presets palette can be opened through the Options Bar or as a palette. By default, the Tool Presets palette is docked with the History and Actions palettes.

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To create a tool preset:
1. Select the tool in the Toolbox or press the keyboard shortcut for the specific tool.
2. In the Options Bar, configure the tool's capabilities as you'd like to save them. (Any variable in the Options Bar can be saved with a preset.)
3. Click the New Tool Preset button at the bottom of the Tool Presets palette.

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4. That opens the New Tool Presets options dialog box, in which you can give the new preset a name. Names can be up to 64 characters long.

SPECIAL NOTE: As with all of the palettes in which you can name an entry, you can re-name a tool preset by double-clicking the preset in the palette and simply typing the new name. (This includes the Layers Palette, which eliminates the Photoshop 6 confusion over opening Layer Options or Layer Styles when double-clicking.)

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In addition to the default Small List view already shown, the Tool Presets palette can display its contents in a Large List view (top) and a Text Only view (bottom).

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Note that in the two list views, the tool icon is visible. That allows you to skip the tool name in the preset name. (You don't really need to include "Type Tool" in the preset name when the icon is visible.) If you'll be using Text Only view, you may need the preset name to differentiate among, for example, the selection tools.

The Tool Presets menu, accessed through the triangle in the upper-right corner of the palette, gives you even greater control over this powerful capability.

· Dock to Palette Well--When the monitor is set to a screen resolution of over 800x600 pixels, the Palette Well is found at the right end of the Options Bar. Palettes placed in the well are easily accessible, yet out of the way.
· New Tool Preset/Rename Tool Preset/Delete Tool Preset--These three commands duplicate things that can be done directly in the palette. At the bottom of the palette are buttons that allow you to create a new preset (left) and delete a selected preset (right). To rename a preset, simply double-click its name in the palette and type.
· Sort By Tool--When a checkmark appears next to this command and the palette is not set to Current Tool Only, the presets will be grouped according to tool. When unchecked, new tool presets are added to the bottom of the palette.
· Show All Tool Presets/Show Current Tool Presets--This pair of commands duplicates the checkbox in the bottom-left corner of the palette. One or the other will have a checkmark to the left, indicating the current content of the palette (which is also rather apparent from looking at the content of the palette.)
· Text Only/Small List/ Large List--You can change the appearance of the content of the palette by selecting one of these three commands.
· Reset Tool/Reset All Tools--Resetting the selected tool or all of the tools returns it or them to their default values. These commands have no effect on saved presets.
· Preset Manager--Photoshop's Preset Manager is used to determine what content will be loaded into which palettes at startup. It can also be opened through the Edit menu.
· Reset/Load/Save/Replace Tool Presets--Like several other palettes, the content of the Tool Presets palette can be saved. Set it up how you want it, then use the palette menu command Save Tool Presets. At any time later, you can use the Load Tool Presets to restore the settings. You can also rest the palette to its default content, and replace the existing content with any saved set of presets.
· At the bottom of the Tool Presets palette menu you'll find all sets of presets saved in the folder Presets, Tools folder. This list isn't updated until you quit and restart Photoshop.

The Tool Presets can be incredible time-savers, especially for complex tools that are used regularly. For example, rather than selecting the Type tool, then changing the font, then changing the font size, then changing the leading, then changing the tracking...well, making all the changes you need to make...instead you simply click once on a tool preset that's been saved with ALL of those options.

For many, Tool Presets will quickly become an indispensable part of Photoshop, ranking with layers, editable type, and the History palette as "can't-live-without" features.


Pete Bauer

Pete Bauer is the Help Desk Director for NAPP, as well as a Contributing Writer for Photoshop User and Mac Design magazines. His books include "Special Edition Using Adobe Photoshop 7" (with Jeff Foster), "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 10," "Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Illustrator 10 in 24 Hours" (with Mordy Golding), and "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 9." Pete writes documentation for a variety of computer graphics related products, as well as testing software for a number of companies. As a computer graphics efficiency consultant, Pete specializes in customized training programs. He is based in Columbus, Ohio, and can be contacted via Email.

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