CC Tweaks to Kill Kittens For: Photoshop

photoshop_2xThe “Tweaks” series is gleaned from an absurdly long document that I created in 2010 that summarized all of the bugs (BG) that I had found in Creative Suite 5, as well as a number of feature requests (FR) and user interface tweaks (UI) that seemed obvious and important. I had planned to send that document to Adobe or post it to the forums, but… I never did, and it has continued to grow ever since. It’s high time I did something with that information, so here goes:

1. Non-​​Layer-​​Jumping Undo (UI) FIXED!

ps_history+layersUpdate: It is with great pleasure that I announce that the Photoshop team finally struck down this frustrating, non-​​intuitive behavior that has existed since 1998. I leave my rant below for historical record, but it appears that we killed enough kittens to appease Adobe on this one.

This gem is far from new, I believe it popped up somewhere around Photoshop 7. Here’s the deal: I click on a layer to make an edit to it, I perform that edit but then decide I don’t like it and want to try again, so I hit Command-​​Z to undo (or in Photoshop terms, “Step Back”). I then try my edit again, only to realize that… I’m back on the previous layer. Ugh, this again. I’ve been dealing with it for about a decade and I still can’t get used to it. That’s because it’s completely non-​​intuitive, for two reasons:

  1. Other applications don’t behave this way, including other Adobe apps that use layers.
  2. If you continue making edits to the same layer and then hit Cmd-​​Z, you aren’t moved to the previous layer (obviously), so the designer is required to remember which edit was the “first” in order to expect that layer to jump.

On top of that, it’s just not efficient to begin with. If I hit Cmd-​​Z in the above pattern, the odds of that action meaning that I want to go back to the previous layer are much lower than that I just want to take back the last action on the current layer. Back when this behavior first appeared and I complained about it I was told that it was the expected behavior, since you’re “Stepping Back” to the previous state, including layer position. I call bullshit. I do not believe that is the most likely expectation of any user, and Adobe is only sticking by that standard because it cleanly matches the “Step Back” concept. But Cmd-​​Z is “Undo” for everyone else in virtually every other situation, and automatic layer movements should only occur when what you’re undoing is on the jumped-​​to layer, period.

2. Unified Maximum/​Minimum Filter and Selection Expand/​Contract (UI)

ps_maximum_filterFor all practical purposes, these are two interfaces for doing basically the same thing: “thickening” and “thinning” a selection or channel. For the uninitiated, they are incredibly beneficial for quick, clean selection adjustments and/​or masking work. Currently, they both use separate interfaces for their respective thicker/​thinner functions, and that makes no sense whatsoever. This is an especially big deal with the Maximum and Minimum filters, since it often isn’t obvious to the user which they should be using (I’ve been using them since 1995 and I still choose the wrong one half the time — maybe I should learn the technical difference). I can only assume that it’s because these features are so old that no one on the PS development team has looked at them and said, “Hey, why are these separate menu items instead of a simple radio toggle?” Say that, PS dev team. It’s time. Viva la unified thick/​thin functions!

3. Global Brush Spacing (FR)

ps_brush_spacing_sliderYeah, I already gave this topic its own bitch session, but I’d still kill a kitten or two for it. Brush spacing being turned on by default is absurd, sure, but not giving us the ability to turn it off by any means other than manual, on-​​the-​​spot brush adjustment is even absurder. There are a number of ways this could be achieved: a global toggle on the Brushes panel, a system preference, a Brushes panel fly-​​out menu option perhaps. Just do it already, jeez.

4. Remember Save to Web Settings (BG)

ps_savetoweb_optionsAgain, I bitched about this one in another context. I view this a bug, even though I’m pretty sure the PS dev team will say it’s a UI choice. Similar to point #1 above, Photoshop has a very annoying habit of inferring your choice of Save to Web slice export option (that is, the final drop-​​down menu that lets you choose “All Slices,” “All User Slices” or “Selected Slices”) as whatever was last used in the application, even if the option that was last used came from a non-​​sliced document that was therefore restricted to only the “All Slices” option. In other words, I might have chosen “Selected Slices” when I exported from Document A and then exported a JPG of the un-​​sliced Document B (in which case PS had to pre-​​select “All Slices”). When I need to re-​​export something from Document A, it has switched to “All Slices,” even though I would never, in a million-​​bajillion years, select that option for a sliced document (how the crap would all of those auto-​​generated slices help me?). For fifteen years I’ve been selecting that stupid option, over and over, every friggin’ day. Enough already. The assumed option should be document-​​based, not application-​​based.

5. Remember Save to Web Settings 2: Electric Bugaloo (BG)

ps_slices_on_canvasYou thought the last Save to Web rant was anal? Get ready for even analer! This time it’s not about the Save dialog, but about the transition from the regular canvas to the Save to Web screen. Here’s the situation: select a slice on your canvas, then open Save to Web. Hey, it already has your slice selected, ready to alter and export! But wait — now return to your canvas and select 2… nay, 20 slices, then open your precious Save to Web screen. Where’s your friendly slice assist now? That’s right. One selected slice. Why does that make sense? It don’t.

You old fossil,” you’re saying to yourself right about now, “don’t you know that Save to Web is dead in the water? Adobe Generator is where it’s at, pops!” First off, stop talking like a 50’s beatnik. Secondly, Save to Web ain’t dead until the new-​​fangled Generator (which I love, by the way) gets more refined control over quality, dithering, color palette, transparency, etc. That may never happen, and I’ll admit that the sheer increase in global bandwidth is making those types of edits less necessary. But dammit, FIX IT ANYWAY. I still have to use Save to Web every damned day, and these bugs are silly and easy to squash.

That’s it for my rant. How about yours? Are there any PS tweaks that you’d like to scream-​​… er, tell the Photoshop team to make? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Or if you prefer to tell them directly, you can! »

by Whit

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