Choosing a Color Theme in Photoshop CC

There are four “Color Themes” or levels of brightness that you can choose to display Photoshop’s interface. By default, the second-to-most dark theme is selected. You can change the theme by clicking on the color swatches in Preferences > Interface > Appearance, or use the shortcut Shift + F2 to move to a lighter color theme or Shift + F1 to cycle to a darker theme. Note: depending on your keyboard, you might have to add the function (fn) key). 

I prefer the default interface as it allows me to focus more on the image and not the interface. Plus, it’s easier on the eyes to look at a darker screen all day.  

My free video from LinkedIn Learning (Customizing the Photoshop Interface), steps through changing the Color Theme (starting at 1:35).

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Customize the Appearance of Screen Modes in Photoshop CC

Tapping the F key cycles through Photoshop’s three screen modes: Standard Screen Mode, Full Screen with Menu Bar and Full Screen Mode.  To change the background color in any of the screen modes do any of the following:

  • Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) in the area surrounding your image and choose a color option from the context sensitive menu.

  • Select Preferences > Interface and customize the Appearance menus. Note; the Border can also be customized to Drop Shadow, None, or Line. 

  • Use the nostalgic (I had to walk uphill in the snow – both ways!) legacy method: select your desired color as the foreground swatch and Shift-click in the area surrounding your image with the Paint Bucket tool.  : )
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Quick Access to Document Information in Photoshop CC

By default, Photoshop displays the Document Size at the bottom of the document window in the Status Bar.

Click the arrow to the right of the Status bar to choose from additional options to display (such as Document Profile, Document Dimensions etc.).

Click and hold in the information area to display the documents width, height, channels and resolution (except while a Save is in progress). 

5:01 AM Comments (0) Permalink

Lightroom Classic – Import: Compact View

In the Import dialog, tap the Backslash (\)  key to display the window in it’s “Compact” format for ease of use on subsequent imports. Tap it again to toggle to Expanded View or, click the small triangle in the lower left of the Import window.

The Import dialog’s default “Expanded” view.


The Import dialog’s streamlined  “Compact” view.

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Lightroom Classic – Single -Click Expand / Collapse All Panels

Command -click (Mac) | Control -click (Win) a panel header to expand/collapse all panels with a single click. Or, Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) on any panel header and choose Expand All / Collapse All from the list.

Note, the Navigator, Histogram, and Preview panels are exceptions to this rule. 

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Lightroom Classic – Using Presets when Importing

To help minimize mistakes, set up your preferred settings for importing files in the Import dialog and then save them. For example, select your source on the left (select your device, navigate through connected drives, or use the arrow to select from common/recent locations). Then, select how Lightroom should import the files (Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add), and choose the options that make sense for your workflow on the right (File Handling, File Renaming, Destination etc.). When finished, at the bottom of the import window, click on the Import Preset drop down menu.

 Select “Save Current Settings as New Preset”, give it a name, and click Create. You can create as many different presets as you need for your workflows.

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Lightroom Classic – Hiding Unused Panels 

To toggle the visibility of a panel, Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) on the panel header and select/deselect them from the list.

There are a few panels that can’t be hidden ((although their contents can still be collapsed using the disclosure triangle). The exceptions are: 

• Library and Develop Modules: Navigator and Histogram Panels

• Map Module: Navigator and Metadata Panels

• Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web Modules: Preview Panel

In the Develop Module, Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) on any panel header on the right of the screen (except the Histogram panel), and select Customize Panels Option to toggle visibility as well as reorder the panels.


Drag the grabber handle to reorder panels. Use the checkbox to toggle visibility.

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Lightroom Classic – Working with Panels: Solo Mode

To only display the options for one panel at a time, Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) on any panel header and select Solo Mode. While in Solo Mode, clicking on a panel header expands the contents of that panel while collapsing any other open panels (which can be especially useful when working on a laptop or smaller display as it eliminates the need to scroll through several open panels to access options). 

You can also Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the disclosure triangle on the panel header to quickly toggle Solo Mode. Note: the disclosure triangle icon is solid gray when Solo Mode is disabled and changes to dots when enabled).

To display more than one panel while still in Solo Mode, Shift -click an additional panel’s header. 

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Resetting Dialog Boxes in Photoshop CC

Holding the Option key (Mac) | Alt key (Win) while in a dialog box will change the Cancel button to Reset for a quick way to reset all of the values.


In dialogs that have a Done button (Save for Web, for example),  holding the Option key (Mac) | Alt key (Win) will change the Done button to Remember (click Remember to save the current setting as your default).

5:06 AM Comments (1) Permalink

3, 2, 1, Photoshop! Duplicate and Copy Smart Objects in Photoshop CC

In this episode of 3, 2, 1, Photoshop, you’ll learn the difference between duplicating a Smart Object and copying a Smart Object in Photoshop.

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Entering Values and Navigating Text Edit Field in Photoshop CC

After selecting a tool, tap the Return key to quickly highlight the first text edit field in the Options bar. For example, selecting the Brush tool and then tapping the enter key will select the Opacity option.


When working with panels, dialog boxes, and the Options bar, clicking on the icon or text next to the desired text edit field will highlight it (which can be easier than clicking and swiping within the text edit field to select the value).


Once a text edit field is active, tap the Tab key to move between fields. For example, with the Brush tool selected, in the Options bar, tap the Tab key to move between Opacity, Flow, and Smoothing. Shift + Tab moves in the opposite direction.  


In addition, once the contents of a text edit field is highlighted, the up/down arrow keys increase/decrease the selected value by one unit. Add the Shift key to increase/decrease the value by 10 units. 

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Photoshop CC’s Application Frame

By default, the Application Frame in Photoshop is enabled. On the Mac, it can be toggled off by selecting  Window > Application Frame, but I prefer  to leave it enabled for three reasons:

  • First, with it enabled, Photoshop hides other applications that you have open making your work area less cluttered. Because you will not be able to see other open applications, use the shortcut Command + Tab to quickly switch between applications.
  • Second, if you want Photoshop to be displayed on a smaller portion of the screen (in order to view Photoshop and another application simultaneously for example), position your cursor along the edge of the application (the cursor will change to a double headed arrow), and drag. The application – including any docked panels conveniently resize as a single unit). 
  • Third, you can easily move Photoshop to a second monitor by dragging the Application Bar (at the top of the application) to the desired monitor.

This free movie on Lynda.com (Customizing the interface in Photoshop) demonstrates how to resize the application frame.


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Scrubby Sliders in Photoshop CC

Positioning the cursor over the text or icon next to a numeric entree field in the Options bar (and in most panels and dialog boxes) displays the “Scrubby Sliders” icon (a hand with small arrows pointing to the left and right). When the Scrubby Slider icon is visible, clicking and dragging decreases/increases the value as you drag left/right. Option -drag (Mac) | Alt – drag (Win) increases/decreases the values more slowly while Shift -dragging decreases/increases the values more quickly.

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Changing Lightroom Classic’s Default Develop Settings

To change the default processing settings in Lightroom Classic, use the following steps:

1) Select a raw file taken with your camera and remove any settings by clicking the Reset button in the lower right of the Develop Module.

2) In the Basic panel, select the desired profile.

Note: changes are not limited to profiles. You could, for example, also enable the Lens Corrections options or customize the amount of Noise Reduction applied in the Details panel – just remember that your new default settings will be applied to ALL future images imported from this camera.

3) Choose Develop > Set Default Settings > Update to Current Settings. Note: Although the dialog says that the changes are not undoable, it only means that the shortcut Command + Z (Mac) | Control + Z (Win) won’t undo the settings – at any time you can return to the dialog and choose Restore Adobe Default Settings if needed.

Once the defaults are changed, any images taken with that camera model will automatically have the profile applied when the are imported into Lightroom (any images that are already in the catalog remain as they were). 

Additional Tips:

Option (Mac) | Alt  (Win) toggles the Reset button to Set Default (in the Develop module) to quickly access the dialog.

If you are using multiple camera models, you will need to customize the default settings for each model (by following the above steps for each camera model).

It is also possible to save different setting for each camera based on serial number and ISO settings (Preferences > Presets). This can be useful when using custom camera profiles for example.


If you choose to enable Lens Corrections, if you change lenses, Lightroom will automatically look for and apply the appropriate lens correction profile based on the EXIF data in the photo. If you import 1000 images but will only end up using 10 of them, applying lens corrections to every file that you import will increase the amount of time it takes to render previews (how much time depends on your system, file size etc.). If you notice a significant decrease in performance,  you might prefer to create a preset to apply lens corrections, and apply it to only your best images.

5:32 AM Permalink

Using the Amount Slider with Creative Profiles in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Most Creative profiles in Lightroom and Camera Raw have an Amount slider which can be used to vary the strength of the profile. (I say “most” because the creator of the profile has the option to disable the effect of the Amount slider).  Note: the Raw profiles that Adobe ships do not have an Amount slider.

Using the slider is intuitive -moving the Amount slider to the left decreases the strength of the Creative profile: moving the slider to the right, amplifies the strength of the profile. But I was curious as to what was happening under the hood – so I went direct to the source and asked my teammate Max. It turns out that when working with raw files, as you decrease the Amount slider, the Creative profile is being blended with a “base” profile – within the Creative profile. The Creative profiles that Adobe ships with Lightroom and Camera Raw all use the Adobe Standard profile as their base profile, but other third parties could choose to use a different base profile (in which case, their Creative profiles would blend with their custom base profile). This means that if the Amount slider is set to zero, the result would be the same as applying the base profile.

Here are three examples of different profiles applied to a raw file. This first image has the Artistic 03 Creative profile applied and the Amount slider set to 100. The second image has the same Creative profile applied, but the Amount slider  is set to 0 (zero). The third image has the Adobe Standard profile applied and is identical to the previous image with the Artistic 03 Creative profile set to 0 (zero).

There are a few exceptions – when working with a non-raw image such as JPEG, because there is no base profile for a JPEG, when you apply a Creative profile and decrease the Amount slider, it will blend with a generic “Color” profile. And, there is a small subset of raw and DNG files that don’t use the Adobe Standard profile as the base profile (if your image falls in this category it will show “Embedded” as the default profile). If this is the case, decreasing the Amount slider when applying a Creative profile will blend with the default, “Embedded” profile.  

  The SDK info for creating custom profiles can be downloaded from this link: http://www.adobe.com/go/profile-sdk

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