Quick tips for your Photoshop work environment

The following tips are a tad esoteric, but I’m passing them along in case they’re of interest/use:

  • When you press F in Photoshop and enter Maximized or Full-Screen Mode with Menu Bar, the background surrounding the image goes to gray; press F again (taking you into Full-Screen Mode (no menu bar)) and the background will change to black.  Not long ago a customer who does retouching at a large magazine asked for the ability to change the background color in Photoshop windows.  In order not to pollute his color perception, he wanted to view images against a particular shade.

    It turns out the capability is already there: right-click (Win)/Ctrl-click (Mac) to set the background color to gray, black, or a color of your choosing; here’s a screenshot.  Alternatively, you can grab the Paint Bucket tool, then shift-click the background to make it take on whatever foreground color you have selected.  Each screen mode can have its own background color.  New to CS3 is the abilty to cycle through gray, black, and custom colors by pressing Shift-F.  This little trick gave rise to my CS3 Stupid Photoshop Trick: going "clubbing" in Photoshop by holding down ShiftSpace-F* while singing the "do-DE-do-DOO-do" riff from The System Is Down(Trust me, you’re not missing out.)

  • On the Mac OS you can drag the little "document proxy" icon in any document’s title bar (screenshot) in order to move the document around, provided you don’t have any unsaved changes.  Dave Girard from Ars Technica swears by this capability as a quick way to move files between Photoshop, Bridge, Maya, and other applications.  In this short video he shows a folder being revealed in Bridge, then documents being moved among apps without requiring a trip back to the Finder or Bridge.

*D’oh–sorry, I typed the wrong modifier; now fixed. I need to stop writing these things at 3am (no kidding).

0 thoughts on “Quick tips for your Photoshop work environment

  1. Shift-F didn’t make the background cycle through colors for me. Could that be a mac only shortcut?
    [No, sorry–it was just me being sloppy. The correct modifier is Space; now updated. Thanks for the heads-up. –J.]

  2. Hehe John clubbing in Photoshop, hilarious!
    I’ve set the background of my classroom collegues to bright pink. Motivates them to keep an eye on your blog.
    Nice tip. Far in the back of my head I knew about the F-option, but forgot all about it. Pretty useful, especially on the Mac.
    Ps. How’s your RAM doing. Did it came back home?

  3. Thanks a lot, that second tip is really great. One more reason for me to migrate to OS X…
    In case anyone is interested: I have compiled 46 similar tips on
    my blog.
    Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but the one thing that really bugs me about the gray background area is that there is no way I can take advantage of it in normal windowed mode when working on big images unless I zoom out really far. The hand tool just blocks when the image edge reaches the window edge. Especially when drawing paths that are supposed to extend slightly over the image edge, this can be really annoying. In fullscreen mode one can move the image freely, so it seems a bit strage to me that this feature is not available in regular windowed mode.

  4. On a Mac, is there any (hide?) way to have a gray (or personalized) background on the Standard Mode, like on PC ?
    It’s very disturbing to compare several images side by side if we have various opened applications below…
    I know that’s the Mac way, but in Photoshop this is pretty disturbing, and the maximized mode doesn’t allow to display several images at a time…
    Am I dreaming ?
    [Nope, it’s not an uncommon request. If we were to do something like what you suggest, it would have to be an option, as just as many Mac users would freak if we took the see-through-to-other-apps functionality away. –J.]

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