Welcome to Day 1 of my 5-day look into the most essential new features in Photoshop CS5. I call it Photoshop CS5 Top 5. Each and every day this week, I’ll post a video that explains one of the grand new features in the forthcoming version of Photoshop.
From an engineering and development perspective, Photoshop CS5’s biggest new feature, bar none, is 64-bit compliance on the Mac. Which means that Photoshop can access more than 4GB of RAM and process computationally intensive tasks using fewer steps. In my experience, Photoshop also loads and runs faster under 64-bit Windows 7 and crashes less often when you “race” it—that is, fire off a new instruction while the program is still working on the previous one.
But wonderful as that is, it took me exactly one day of using the program to take the speed boost for granted. (The program’s job is to keep up, right?) And there’s not a damn thing creatively you can do with it. Which is why I won’t be demonstrating 64-bit compliance in this or any of my other videos.
In fact, in today’s video, I demonstrate the very opposite of 64-bit compliance. Rather than techy and dull, today’s topic is immediately comprehensible and fun. As opposed to invisible and omnipotent, it’s obvious and scattered across the software. And instead of one feature, it’s ten.
Adobe’s name for this grab-bag of features is “Just Do It,” or JDI. (To learn the whole story behind Photoshop’s JDI bunch, check out the March 4 Martini Hour with John Nack and Bryan O’Neil Hughes.) JDI are a group of minor fixes suggested by Photoshop users to make the program less ponderous and more efficient to use. If you’ve been using Photoshop for long enough to grow grumpy with it on occasion, the JDI features are the ones most likely to excite your imagination.
While I’m a big fan of these fixes, I’m not crazy about the term JDI. It’s a way of slapping a trendy Nike trademark on what I’d prefer to think of as the very natural act of a company responding to customer feedback. If those of us who use Photoshop day in and day out come up with good ideas for how to make it better, Adobe should listen and take notes as a matter of course.
Which is why I’m calling these features “common-sense enhancements.” Their benefit is obvious, their contribution to CS5 is welcome. I don’t document every one of these enhancements in the video; just the best ones, and in this order:
- Straighten button. Draw a line along the horizon of a crooked photo with the ruler tool, then click the new Straighten button to both straighten the image and crop away the excess. Alt- or Option-click Straighten to skip the crop.
- Rule of Thirds. The crop tool boundary now includes a Rule of Thirds grid for composing your cropped photos.
- Content-Aware Fill. Heal any selection using the new Content-Aware Fill option, which sources multiple points outside the selection and adds a bit of surface mapping as well. (We’ll see more of this feature on Thursday.)
- Multi-layer Opacity. Select multiple layers and change their Opacity values all at once. Which is great, though I wish it also worked with other appearance attributes (e.g., blend modes and layer effects).
- Layer FX defaults. When applying a layer effect, you can save your settings as the defaults for future versions of that effect.
- Paste in Place. The new Paste in Place command pastes a selection at the coordinate location from which you copied it.
- Auto-select Adjustments parameter. When creating or editing an adjustment layer, you now have the option of automatically highlighting the first numerical value (a.k.a. parameter) in the Adjustments panel. Or just press Shift+Enter. (Note that Adobe added this option in response to a comment posted here at dekeOnline. Power to the people!)
- Mini-Bridge. The Mini-Bridge packs much of the functionality of the stand-alone Bridge into a local Photoshop panel.
- Drag-and-drop layers. You can now drag one or more files from a desktop folder or from the Mini-Bridge and drop them directly into a Photoshop composition. By default, Photoshop places each file as an independent smart object layer.
- Close All for real. After choosing File > Close All, Photoshop prompts you to save any unsaved changes. CS5 offers an Apply to All check box, so that you can avoid the headache of answering one alert message after another.
On its own, any one of these common-sense enhancements may fail to inspire more than a, “Gee wiz, that’s neat.” But stacked together, they suggest that Adobe is actually serious about making your workaday life a little easier.
Tomorrow, HDR Pro!