Photoshop File Browser Tweak Pt. II

January 26, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

I mentioned in my last issue that I've been spending some quality time with Photoshop CS's File Browser, trying to get it to work how I want it to work instead of how it works by default. My first tweak — creating one keyboard shortcut that would open and close the Browser regardless of what was open/active in Photoshop — was detailed in that issue:

Here's another tweak that I've found immensely useful: Getting the Browser to just show me folders with pictures in them instead of every folder in my entire dang hard drive.

Taming the Folders Section
The Photoshop CS File Browser window (File -> Browse) is divvied up into four areas of information. The chunk at the upper left corner, Folders, shows all the folders on your hard drive in a Windows Explorer-like hierarchy of collapsed and expanded directories.

You're supposed to use this area to find the folder containing the images you want to browse through. When you select a folder, its contents are displayed in the right half of the Browser window, and any images Photoshop can read are displayed there as large thumbnails.

On a Mac running OS X, the top-level folder is Desktop. If you twirl open the Desktop folder to expand it, you see an alpha list of files and folders of all the stuff on your desktop, including another folder, the name of your hard drive. You have to scroll down to find it, twirl it open, then twirl the Users folder open, then twirl your Home directory open, to get to your actual working folders. My User folder contains at least 50 folders, and buried in there are biggies like Client Projects and Archives and In-House, each of which contains a bazillion folders themselves.

So it would drive me MAD trying to locate a folder of pictures buried on my hard drive somewhere. I would end up only using the Browser when I had to; instead I preferred using the regular File -> Open dialog, which is resizeable and lets me search for folders in Column view.

What I discovered (amazing what you can learn if you just take a moment to explore) is that there's another "top level" directory in the Folders area (right below the one labelled Desktop on a Mac) called Favorites. I never noticed it before because when the hard drive folder's are expanded, it takes too long to scroll all the way down to the bottom, where the Favorites folder lives.

While you're in the File Browser, navigating through your hard drive's folders, you can select one and make it a File Browser Favorite. For example, buried on my hard drive is a folder containing family pictures from my digital camera. I selected this Family Pix folder in the File Browser and chose Add Folder to Favorites from the contextual menu (right-click or Control-click). You could also get to the Add Folder to Favorites command from the Browser's own little menu bar — it's in the File menu.

I took about 10 minutes one day in the File Browser and made Favorites out of the six or seven folders on my hard drive I'd most likely want to use in the Browser — obvious ones like my user account's default Pictures folder, not so obvious ones like the folder containing my web site's gifs and jpegs, and major category ones like the Client Projects folder.

Then I scrolled all the way up to the top of the Folders section of the File Browser and twirled the top-level Desktop folder closed so all the contents collapsed and it just took up one line. This revealed the Favorites entry below it, which I twirled open, revealing the six or seven favorite folders I had added, with plenty of room to add more favorites if I so choose.

Photoshop CS remembers the state of your Folders section in the File Browser every time you open it. So now, when I open the File Browser, I have immediate access to the folders I'm likely to want to browse through. I can just click on one, and its contents appears in the thumbnails section on the right. No more endless clicking and scrolling in that tiny little section of the window (remember, I'm on a laptop).

Try it, you'll like it!

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