Photoshop CS5 Top 5: Common-Sense Enhancements

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.

Photoshop CS5 Top 5

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!

Next entry:Photoshop CS5 Top 5: HDR Pro

Previous entry:Martini Hour 061, In Which Cap’n Deke Helps Us Navigate the High Photoshop Seas

  • Sony Vaio F

    Hi, Deke

    I saw a lot of your video tutorials on Photoshop and Illustrator, and I couldn’t wonder what made you use Windows instead of Mac OS because every instructor or graphic designer I’ve seen on Adobe TV, etc. is using a Mac. I hope that my question would not raise a typical Windows vs Mac argue.

    From what I read, the Macs have very qualitative displays which is essential in graphics. I am a Windows (7) user and I am looking for a computer with a good display. What do you think of Sony Vaio F? It has a 16.4 inches Full HD screen which Sony says is capable of providing 100% mapping in the Adobe RGB palette. It is just marketing or I should consider saving for one?

    Best regards,


  • Excellent ! I always like the

    Excellent ! I always like the way you teach and i learned a lot from you.


  • Is that the \“Mini The

    Is that the “Mini The Bridge” or just “Mini Bridge” :)

  • The Best Demonstration Ever!!!

    Keep Rocking Boss!!!

    Black Seals ... White Reveals…!

  • Deke McClelland memorial feature

    I see that John Nack has accredited you with the keyboard shortcut of shift+return to put the keyboard focus onto the first field in Adjustments.

    Memorial feature sounds a lot like an epitaph but I really don’t think he intended it to sound that way. :)

    I’m betting that some of the other common sense suggestions you’ve made in your videos over the years have been incorporated or closely considered.

    Update: John Nack has updated his comment to dispel any insinuation that Deke has passed.

  • Superb Tutorials

    Hi Deke!
      I wonder If you could give me a list of your tutorial videos to learn Advaced level Photoshop CS4 more detailed - and where can I get them from.  I just finished One-on-One Mastery, and interested in any other (even short) videos what you recommend.

    You are really the best teacher ever!    Thanks: Andrea

  • Dear Mr. Deke, Sir

    As I recently won a squillion dollars on the national lottery - just under $200.00 to be precise - I decided to upgrade to PS CS5 and restart my training using the affordable no-frills monthly option. But imagine my surprise when the no-frills monthly option gave me no frills! Why, I almost wept aloud as I knelt before the CS5 altar of Sir Distant DekeKeys (Knight of the Order of the Garter). So I dropped my own garter, and meditated upon the heavenly and well-moisturised glow of your smiling face for a full five minutes. Alas, this didn’t help, despite now being a national lottery winner… ahhh, the Gods they giveth, and the Gods they taketh away.

    Well, to make a short story long, I decided I had better come and ask you eversonicely if you will be uploading the seductively magickal DekeKeys to your website any time soon? ‘Cos that would be, like, totally cool and awesome and would, like, totally rock. It’d be as if you were doing it for the kids, Deke. It’d be just that fabulous. :D

    Please, pretty please.

    Your sincerely,

    (long time fan, short bus traveller)

  • hope this helps

    i think this might be what you’re looking for ... hope it helps..

  • Thank you so much!

    See what happens when you go away for awhile? You miss out on stuff!

    But the DekePeeps always come through. :)

    Thanks again!


  • dekePeeps!

    I haven’t used that one. But I like it (with the dekeRequired lowercase D of course!)

  • I knew it DiDn’t look right….

    I haven’t been reading enough of my bible lately, but I’m reminded of this important verse:

    “The devil is in the D tales; and salvation is in the dekeTales, dekeKeys and dekePeeps”. (Book One on One, Chpt 1, Fig. 3).



  • CS5

    Hi Deke,
    We ‘met’ many years ago when I purchased Total Training’s “Adobe Photoshop CS2”. I found your training style ideally suited to me. I did not progress as much as I should but that was my fault, not yours.
    I am now 78 and retired. I have decided that I will try to master web building this winter and so took the plunge and purchased CS5.
    I find it impossible to get started in Dreamweaver. All the tutorials I have looked at seem to assume a lot of knowledge on my part which I don’t possess!
    Could you point me an a life-saving direction?
    I found your site by accident and was deligted to hear your voice once again.
    I now feel there’s hope for this Irishman yet!
    keep up the good work,


  • illustrator CS5

    Hi Deke,

    I am looking at purchasing your book “Adobe Illustrator CS5 One-on-One (Paperback)”. 

    Would this be easier to follow than “Adobe Illustrator CS5 - Classroom in a book”


  • Problems with smart filters..

    After working my way with you on your technique on turning type to fire, I was able to complete all the smart filters including the two ripple effects, yet when I tried to apply the sketch filter I found my Photoshop had it greyed out and not available, any ideas what would cause this? I double checked all my settings and they matched yours exactly. I have several filters not available to me during this process.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Regards,  Terry

  • I see that John Nack has

    I see that John Nack has accredited you with the keyboard shortcut of shift+return.

  • lesson files-pscs5 1 on 1

    missing can’t find it

  • Which files in particular?

    Let me know and I’ll get you squared away.

  • This tutorial is great,

    This tutorial is great, thanks i’m new to photoshop and this will help me a lot, and i mean it


  • Is that the \“Mini Th

    Is that the “Mini The Bridge” or just “Mini Bridge” :)

  • Hi Adrian

    Deke is perhaps using Windows on his tutorials because it is what most people are using for it’s user-friendly interface and the functions are easy to navigate.
    Best Regards,
    Tony Robbin

  • One on One

    OMG!!!!!!! I got my 3 Illustrator DVD’s (Fundamentals, Advanced, Mastery) boxes this morning and I’ve learnt more in one afternoon of watching the DVD’s then I have learnt in reading books but other people, I was surprised when I came across the DVD’s because I was mainly looking for books, but I then bought the books I found at my local book store which you wrote a few years back.

    You Sir Deke are a GOD in Illustrator & Photoshop CS5, thanks for the Great Videos and also the AWESOME BOOKS.

  • Dude, such awesome news

    Seriously, thanks.