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7 tips in Photoshop that are insanely useful, that are hiding in plain sight

7 Hidden Tricks That Change the Way You Use Photoshop

Hey everyone! This week I’m going to share a few Photoshop tips with you. These are huge productivity tips, concerning areas of Photoshop that you deal with everyday. They are so obvious that they are easily overlooked. Because we are using these tools and not really looking at them (they are second nature), I’m saying that they are hiding in plain sight! I do have a whole page full of Photoshop tips too if you are into that sort of thing 🙂

1. The Information on the Document Tab

Okay, the very first thing is when we look at a document  tab. Have you ever REALLY looked at the tab and wondered what all the information means?

First up, there’s your Filename, then the @ symbol that shows you the magnification level, we are currently at 32%.
Tip: You always want to be at 100% for sharpening or doing any

Next up, it tells us what layer is currently selected (or layer Mask).

Next is Color Mode:  We’re in RGB at 16 bit and what does that little star mean? That little star means that we’ve changed something and we haven’t saved it yet. That means that if you close this document without saving, you’re going to lose something.

Press Ctrl S to save and notice that little star goes away.

2. Recent Documents

If we choose File> Open Recent, you’ll notice that Photoshop shows the 25 most recent documents. But, very often, a document you’re looking for might have actually happened before that.

Here’s how you can find a recent document past the recent 25. You go under Photoshop>Preferences>File Handling> Recent List Change it to 100

Click OK

Now we choose File>Open Recent and, boom, we’ve got our last 100 documents in there.

(Note: 100 is the maximum that Photoshop will allow)

3. Manage your Presets

When you’re working in Photoshop, you’re going to end up with a lot of Presets.

Photoshop Presets Include:

  • Brushes
  • Swatches
  • Gradients
  • Styles
  • Patterns
  • Contours
  • Custom Shapes
  • Tools

You can find all of Photoshop’s presets in one place.  Edit>Presets >Preset Manager

If you want to work on your preset collections, organize them and build them the Preset Manager is your one stop shop. You can also back up and migrate your presets from the Edit>Preset family of tools.

4. Reset Tool Presets

When speaking of presets, I mentioned Tools. These aren’t actual tools, but tool Presets. Tool Presets are a way to save settings that we have painstakingly applied to a tool. We can use it again, without having to keep re-entering the same settings over and over and thus wasting a lot of valuable time. All time is valuable, but you know what  mean 😉

The other side of that coin is that you are trying to use a tool, and it seems to be acting a bit weird. The usual thing for people to do is to fly off the handle and blame Adobe! “It’s a bug, it’s a bug!” Woah, there, slow down a second. Sometimes, it’s just that a setting has changed and the tool isn’t behaving in the way that you are used to.

To save a lot of trouble-shooting, Right-click on the top left corner of the Photoshop interface and choose Reset Tool and that will put everything back to its default settings and work the way you expect.

The other thing you can do is right-click and choose Reset All Tools, and all the Tools inside the Tool Box (that panel on the left of Photoshop) will  go back to their factory settings.

5. Resetting the Preferences in Photoshop

Sometimes things get really messed up in Photoshop, the DEFCON level stuff when you are ready to re-intall. Before reinstalling Photoshop or even calling Tech Support, try this last line of defense. Reset your Photoshop preferences. It’s a secret that veteran Photoshop users have been doing for years. It used to be a lot harder than it is now, and this is where this tip is going to come in.

When you go to launch Photoshop, as you click the icon, hold down Shift+Alt+Ctrl  (Shift+Option+Command on Mac). A  pop up will appear, saying  “Delete the Adobe Photoshop Settings File?”

If you click Yes, that will reset your Preferences and launch Photoshop exactly as it was when it was first installed.

Be aware that some of your presets may not be loaded anymore (sometimes the problem is a bad preset), which is why you’d go to my previous tip on Preset Manager.

6. The hidden reset button in dialog boxes

Sometimes you are working inside a Photoshop modal dialog box (the pop-up dialog boxes, yeah, that’s what they are really called. “model” boxes. I’ll refrain from calling them that in the future, it’s way too nerdy.)  You’ve made a lot of adjustments and it’s not going well, in fact, the image may be looking worse than when you started. You want to reset and start again.

You  could hit Cancel and then go back in again, as most people do, or hit the Reset button. “Where’s the Reset button”, you ask?

Hold down the Alt/Option key and the Cancel button will turn into a Reset button. Click and it resets to the settings that were then when you first opened the box. (Notice what I did there? I just called it a box).

7. Display different Photoshop Document information

One last one, on the first tip, we started at the top. Now, just for fun, why don’t we finish at the bottom?

How many times have you done this? You want to see how big your file is, so you choose Image>Image Size and then we can see the document size and resolution. Good news!  You don’t have to do that anymore.

There’s a lot of information  available down the bottom of the Photoshop Document Window (there we go, official names again). You can choose  Document Dimensions and see the size and resolution of your current document. Maybe it’s 20 x 8 inches at 240 ppi.

Well, what if you want to see it in pixels? Press Ctrl/Cmd+ R to turn on rulers. Right-click on one of the ruler and see all the options,  change it to pixels. Now your display down the bottom will show pixels. Theres a lot of goodies hiding down here.  One of them is Layer Count,  you can instantly see how many layers in your current document.

There were a few useful Photoshop tips for you. I’m going to have tons more of these with my weekly tutorials here at PhotoshopCAFE. You can see all my Photoshop tutorials right here. 

Let me know what you think. Are any of these new? Did you know all of these or were these new to you? Just add them into the comments underneath.

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14 responses to “7 tips in Photoshop that are insanely useful, that are hiding in plain sight”

  1. Colin,

    I think all of your tutorials are excellent, but I’ve never been able to find the like button…is it hidden in plain sight also??

    Thanks for all you do!

    Vita Parker

    PS – I’m already signed up for your free tutorials and discounts.

    • LOL, the like button is on youtube, its not displayed on the page here at PhotoshopCAFE, sorry for any confusion!

  2. thank you for all of your wonderful tutorials. i am interested in learning the norman rockwell look in photoshop. i can’t find any helpful tutorials on that effect. can you please make a tutorial on that? thank you, fran

  3. Some of these were completely new to me. Thanks! One of the best was the re-setting of Photoshop. I’ve been wondering how to do that as I’ve been having issues with my camera raw filter for ages so I’m going to try this and hope it works!

  4. Well that was very helpful. I may use only a few of those options you showed. But I now know about them. So thanks for that!

  5. Literally love your tutorials – easy and fast and not too much info – just enough to digest. I anxiously await the new lesson weekly.

    Thank you
    Carole Werling

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