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File Browser Improvements in Photoshop CS

Exploring the File Browser in Photoshop CS

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The Photoshop CS File Browser is much more useful than previous versions. It now has a permanent on-off toggle button on the options bar, and is no longer stuck in the palette well. Unfortunately, on Windows systems, it is still trapped inside the application and can't be moved onto a second monitor.

The File Browser now features a favorite folders section that permanently lists folders you specify, and also keeps a list of up to 30 recently-used folders. If you keep images in a limited number of folders, this means you will rarely need to display the folder palette of the File Browser and can use that space for something else. To add a folder to the favorites list, just right-click in the thumbnail view and choose "Add Folder to Favorites" or choose this option from the File menu. (If the option is disabled, the folder is already a Favorite.)

Speaking of palettes, they can now be docked together, resized, and moved around. I moved my folder palette into the same panel with metadata and keywords since I won't be using it often. Double-clicking any of the palette tabs will collapse it to make more room for other open palettes. If you want more room for thumbnails, click the double arrow icon in the status bar of the browser to toggle the palettes on or off.

Thumbnail size has also been improved. Now you can make browser thumbnails any size by going to View > Custom Thumbnail size (in the File Browser, not the main Photoshop menu). Photoshop installs with a custom thumbnail size of 256 pixels, but you can change this by going to Edit > Preferences. While you're in the File Browser Preferences, you might also want to increase the recently used folders display to the maximum of 30. There are a few other options you can explore here. Hold your cursor over them to get a popup explanation.

The Automate menu of the File Browser is chock full of useful, time saving things. You can rename and batch process many files without opening them first. Use the batch command to run a recorded Action on selected files, or use any of the other Automate commands:

  • PDF Presentation creates a PDF slide show of the images.
  • Contact Sheet II prepares reference pages of thumbnails for printing.
  • Online Services lets you connect to online photo printing and sharing sites. Currently Shutterfly services are offered, but presumably more will be added.
  • Photomerge seamlessly combines several photos into a panorama.
  • Picture Package prepares photos in layouts consisting of multiple size prints on one page.
  • Web Photo Gallery generates hyperlinked Web pages ready for uploading to a server.

When working with these automated commands, the flag tool can be very useful. If you want to work with a subset of pictures in a group, just flag those you want to work with, then you can temporarily remove the unflagged images from view using the Show menu. You can flag images from multiple folders and use the search function to display all those you have flagged, even if they're spread across many folders. The flag and search buttons are both available from the File Browser toolbar at the top.

Previously, you could rank files with a coding system in the File Browser. You still can, but the new Keywords panel of the File Browser gives you a more intuitive way of organizing and searching your images. You can add any number of keywords and keyword sets. Keywords added in Photoshop CS can be imported to Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0, but not vice-versa, unfortunately.

The Metadata palette of the File Browser is where you can view and store all sorts of useful information about your images. The palette displays six types of metadata:

  • File Properties - standard file information such as name, size, creation date, modified date, resolution, etc.
  • IPTC Fields - Editable fields where you can add descriptions, copyright information, special instructions and more. Keywords are also part of the IPTC data, but because they have a palette of their own, you can't edit keywords here.
  • Camera EXIF Data - Stores information about the camera settings used when the shot was taken. This varies by digital camera, but generally contains the camera make and model, exposure time, shutter speed, f-stop, aperture, focal length, flash mode, metering mode, and so on.
  • GPS - Displays navigational information from a Global Positioning System for cameras which include this technology.
  • Camera Raw - Displays data for digital camera files shot in a Raw format.
  • Edit History - Stores a log of all editing functions performed on the image in Photoshop.

By going to Edit > Metadata Display Options, you can control what this panel shows. If your camera does not support GPS data or RAW format, for instance, you can turn those sections off.

By going to File > File Info in the File Browser you can use a dialog box to enter IPTC data instead of using the Metadata palette. From here, you can save a metadata template to apply the same set of information to multiple files in the file browser, saving you tons of time.

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