Fourth Annual Layers 100 Wicked Tips

, / 4429 7

It seems like only yesterday that we were working on the “First Annual Layers 100 Hot Tips.” Now here we are three years later with our Fourth Annual installment of one of our most popular features. After all, who doesn’t love tips? Those little nuggets of wisdom that make you say, “That was really cool. I can’t wait to fire up my computer and give that one a try.”

This year we decided to try something a little different. In the past, we’ve invited some of the best designers and trainers in the industry to share their top secrets. This usually took a lot of bribing and just a little physical coercion—okay, a lot of physical coercion. Most of them just didn’t want to give away their most-guarded secrets.

This time around we decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth: the Senior Product Managers at Adobe. We have never seen so many people so eager to share all of their favorite tips. They were almost breaking down our doors. (In fact, we’ve had to request a few restraining orders, but that’s a story for another time.) And not only that, everyone on their teams wanted to get involved, as well: Product Managers, Evangelists, and even the janitors. We’re glad to report that we’ve survived their barrage of tips, and we’re proud to be able to share those tips with you. Please enjoy.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

By Tom Hogarty

Get smart with your collections
Create a Smart Collection in the Library module to automatically gather a set of images. Just click on the plus icon in the Collections panel on the left and choose Create Smart Collection. The criteria you set to dynamically create the collection can range from keywords to star rating to capture time. It’s a quick way to view all of the images you’ve captured in the last 90 days or all the images you haven’t tagged with keywords yet.

Quickly navigate to recently viewed folders
The filmstrip at the bottom of the Lightroom interface includes a number of navigation tools that are accessible in all modules. The left and right arrows above the images on the left side of the filmstrip behave like a Web browser’s back and forward buttons to visit recently selected folders or collections. You can also click anywhere on the folder path next to the arrows to bring up a pop-up menu where you can view and visit recently selected folders or collections.

Turn from the dark side
In the Develop module, Control-click or (PC: Right-click) on the background that surrounds the image to change it from medium gray to another value such as light gray. The background density affects your perception of the brightness of the image you’re editing. If the background is too dark, you may find that the images you’re editing end up darker than you intended because your eye is using the background as a reference point. I actually prefer light gray because it gives me more consistent results when I view the images in other applications.

Profiles for your camera
Now with Lightroom 2.2, new camera profiles are available natively in the Camera Calibration panel of the Develop module. These profiles are specific to each camera that Lightroom supports, so try them out and see if one of them gives you a preferable starting point for RAW rendering. You can then set it as a default for that camera by choosing Develop>Set Default Settings.

Post-crop border effect
In the Develop module, set all of the Post-Crop sliders in the Vignettes panel to the far left to create a black border effect around your image that many find attractive.

Choose your background color
In the Slideshow module, you can select a color directly from one of your images to use as the background color. In the Backdrop panel, click the Background Color checkbox to turn it on, then click on the Background Color swatch to open a color picker. Click in the color picker, hold your mouse button down, and then drag the Eyedropper onto the image. Hover over a color in the image that you would like to use then release the mouse button.

Creative compositions
Create two virtual copies (Photo>Create Virtual Copies) of an image, then select all three when using the Triptych template in the Print module. You can find the template in the Template Browser panel on the left. Adjust the position of the image in each cell to create a unique composition.

Relaunch and optimize your library
In the Catalog Settings dialog (Lightroom [PC: Edit]>Catalog Settings), click the Relaunch and Optimize button at the bottom to let Lightroom perform some housekeeping on your Library. It’s a good way to optimize the performance of larger catalogs.

The Lightroom Exchange
Visit the Lightroom Exchange by opening the Plug-in Manager (File>Plug-in Manager) and clicking the Plug-in Exchange button. This website lists a number of exciting additions to Lightroom, including presets, Web galleries, and export plug-ins that help you connect directly to various Web services such as Flickr. Many of these extras for Lightroom have been rated and commented on by other Lightroom customers.

Panels only when you want them
I often hide my left and right panels in each of the modules by tapping the Tab key. The panels will then automatically move back into view when you hover near the left or right edge of the Lightroom window. I’ve talked to a number of photographers who don’t like that automatic nature of that behavior. Luckily, it’s quite easy to change. Control-click (PC: Right-click) on the small triangles at the left or right edge of the Lightroom window and choose Manual as your default instead of Auto Hide & Show.

Adobe Photoshop CS4

By John Nack & Bryan O’Neil Hughes

Bird’s-eye view (a.k.a Bye-bye Navigator panel)
Photoshop CS4 leverages the power of your graphics card (GPU) to enable fast, smooth panning, zooming, and more. If you’re working with high-resolution documents, try zooming in, holding down the H key, and then clicking-and-holding your mouse button. You’ll see that Photoshop instantly (and temporarily) zooms out to show the whole document. You can then reposition your cursor, using the little rectangle under the Hand cursor as a guide, to see what’ll be on screen when you release the mouse button.

Spring-loaded tools
In CS4, you can temporarily jump from any tool to any other tool by pressing-and-holding the other tool’s shortcut. For instance, to jump from the Brush tool to the new Rotate View tool, just hold down R, click-and-drag the canvas to rotate it, and then release R to jump back to the Brush. Although it saves just one click at a time, those clicks can add up.

Clip adjustment layers automatically
It’s always been possible to “clip” adjustment layers so they target a single layer instead of all the layers below it, but now you can toggle this behavior on as a default. Click the little multi-circle icon in the lower-right corner of the Adjustments panel to set new adjustment layers to be clipped automatically.

Nondestructive perspective transformations
Prior to CS4 you couldn’t easily apply a perspective or distort transformation to a smart object. With the new release, you simply go into Free Transform mode (Command-T [PC: Ctrl-T]) and hold down Shift-Option-Command (PC: Shift-Alt-Ctrl) while grabbing-and-dragging the corner of the object (just hold Command [PC: Ctrl] to distort). Your perspective and distort edits will remain fully editable.

Converting a layer to a 3D postcard
Besides smart objects, Photoshop Extended offers another way to apply perspective transforms nondestructively: Select any layer or layers, then choose 3D>New 3D Postcard from Layer. Photoshop will map your layer(s) onto a 2D “postcard in space.” You can then use the various 3D object manipulation tools (K) and camera tools (N) to change the orientation and appearance of the layer.

3D: Finding “paintable” areas
Photoshop uses a project-based painting model which means that 3D objects need to be positioned parallel to the screen so that paint can be properly applied. Setting the Preset mode (from the 3D panel) to Paint Mask will show you the ideal position/resolution that your model should be in for clean paint to be applied: white areas indicate optimal positioning, blue indicates sub-optimal, and red indicates not ideal. The Select Paintable Areas option (in the 3D menu) will select the areas that are in the ideal position for painting.


3D: Auto-hide layers for better performance
To greatly improve performance while interacting with 3D objects, you can turn on Auto-hide Layers for Performance in the 3D menu to activate direct-to-screen drawing (enabled by OpenGL). This will temporarily hide all other layers while you’re interacting with the 3D object.

Presets, presets, presets
In addition to freeing the power of adjustment layers from a static, modal dialog (via the Adjustments panel), CS4 now supports the loading and saving of adjustment layer presets, such as Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Selective Color. (You can select these options from the Adjustment panel’s flyout menu.) The presets files are very small and easily distributed. To share your own, just copy the corresponding file from the Preset folder (inside the Photoshop Applications folder) and pass it on.

Old behaviors in the new Curves dialog
Curves, long the backbone of image adjustment, continue to grow both more powerful and easier to use. In CS4, the new On-Image control (circled) in the Adjustments panel makes adjustments as intuitive as clicking on the image and dragging up or down; of course, a few keyboard shortcuts are worth noting with the On-Image adjustment button:

• Preview circle on curve: Hover cursor over image (CS3: click-and-hold)
• Add point to the active curve: Click the image (CS3: Command-click [PC: Ctrl-click])
• Delete point on active curve: Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) image in area where Input/Output values of point are the same (preview circle will appear over point in curve)
• Select the next point on the curve: Press the + (plus) key (CS3: Control-Tab)
• Select the previous point on the curve: Press the – (minus) key (CS3: Shift-Control-Tab)
• Toggle through channels: Option-2 through 5 (PC: Alt-2 through 5) (CS3: Command-~ through 3 [PC: Ctrl-~ through 3])
• Preview clipping: With Black or White Point Eyedropper tool, hold Option (PC: Alt) and mouse over image.

Auto-Blend and much, much more
New to the Auto-Blend control in CS4 is the ability to choose between a panorama and a stack of images. Stack Images draws data from however many similar images you give it. With varied depth of field, this can effectively buy you light (several shots taken at a shallow depth of field can be combined into one image, all focused). More unusual still is the ability to have a prominent, focused foreground and focused background with a soft blur between. Prior to CS4, this was photographically impossible. Lastly, the Seamless Tones and Colors option in the Auto-Blend Layers dialog helps balance exposure between images. With varied focus this means countering for the shifts of light between images, but when you take one shot with a flash and another without, the feature can really start to shine.

Adobe Illustrator CS4

By David Macy

The key to aligning
You can easily align a set of objects to a guide. Using the Selection tool (V), select both the guide and all of the objects, and click on the guide again. The guide is now the “key object” with which everything will line up when you use the Align functions on either the Control panel or Align panel (Window>Align). You can do the same thing with any object—the key doesn’t have to be a guide.

Take advantage of document tabs
Spring-loaded document tabs in CS4 let you copy artwork from one file to another, or create symbols, brushes, swatches, and graphic styles from artwork without interrupting your flow. Drag the artwork from the current file and hover over the tab of the document you want to copy it to. The document will pop to the top so you can drop your artwork in place.

Change the style, but keep the color
If you’ve never worked with graphic styles before, you should start now. Graphic styles can save any appearance attribute (color, effects, transforms, etc.) to re-use on other objects, and the new additive graphic styles let you apply these appearances without wiping out what the object looked like originally. Let’s say you’re drawing a set of tree ornaments of different fill and stroke colors and you want to apply a graphic style that has a scribble effect and a drop shadow without changing the fill and stroke. Select all of the circles you’ve drawn for colored ornaments, then Option-click (PC: Alt-click) the style in the Graphic Styles panel (Window>Graphic Styles) to add it while retaining all of the original colors.

Appearance central
The Appearance panel was in last year’s hot tips issue, but now it’s even better in CS4. There are Eye icons for toggling the visibility for every attribute, and now that each attribute is a live link to a panel, dialog, or pop-up menu, you can edit virtually any appearance element directly in the panel so you can use this one panel instead of five or six others.

Easily select and edit common attributes
Have you ever wanted to select (and edit) all the objects in your file that have a specific effect applied? Select the object and highlight the effect in the Appearance panel, then choose Select>Same>Appearance Attribute to pick up all other objects with the same effect. You’ll see that the Appearance panel now lets you edit items that are common for all of the selected objects.

Expand before erasing
Before erasing objects that use brush or vector effects, select them and choose Object>Expand Appearance. Now the Eraser tool (Shift-E) will erase what you want without re-applying the brush or effect attributes to the path. You can do the same thing for stroked objects by choosing Object>Expand.

Change default font for new documents
Open any of the startup profiles found inside Username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator CS4/en_US (depending on language)/New Document Profiles. Open the Character Styles panel (Window>Type>Character Style), double-click [Normal Character Style], set your preferred font, click OK, and then Save and Close the file. The font you set will now be the default for all new documents created with that startup profile.

Round corners your way
When you want a rounded rectangle, instead of using the Rounded Rectangle tool, create a standard rectangle with the Rectangle tool and choose Effect>Stylize>Round Corners. You can then change the roundness at any time in the Appearance panel. As a bonus, you can use this effect on any shape.

Gradients with style
One feature that has been a long-term headache for a lot of Illustrator users is gradients. The new Gradient tool (G) makes a world of difference with really fun on-the-artwork controls, but that’s not all—when you’re satisfied with the look of your gradient, save it as a graphic style. This will preserve the angle, aspect ratio, and others elements of the gradient that aren’t saved in gradient swatches.

In the black
If you’ve received a file from someone and you need to print it, but you find there are five different types of black, don’t fret—you can convert them all to a single black definition by using Live Color. Press Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A) to select everything, and then go to Edit>Edit Colors>Recolor Artwork. You can reassign the blacks in the Recolor Artwork dialog.

Adobe InDesign CS4

By Michael Ninness

Proportional place
When you click a loaded Place Gun on a page, InDesign creates a frame that’s the same size as the content you’re placing. In CS4, if you click-and-drag with a loaded Place Gun, InDesign draws a frame that’s proportionally sized to the content you’re placing, displays a tool tip that shows you the scale percentage, and automatically fits the content you’re placing to fill the frame. Sweet!

Grid place
In CS4, the multi-file place feature got even better. You can now place all the files in the loaded Place Gun at once, laid out in an evenly distributed grid of frames. To invoke Grid Place, hold down Shift-Command (PC: Shift-Ctrl) and start dragging. After you start dragging, you can let go of the keys, but keep the mouse button down. Then, use the Right and Left Arrow keys to change the number of rows and the Up and Down Arrow keys to adjust the number of columns. Let go of the mouse button, and InDesign will place all the images at once, equally spaced into a nice grid for you.

Grid Place bonus tip
Add the Shift key to the Arrow keys in the above tip to change the amount of space between each cell in the grid.

Lose the guides
Did you know that InDesign has a Preview mode? Switching to the Preview mode is an easy way to hide all the visual clutter of margin, column and ruler guides, frame edges, hidden characters, pasteboard items, etc. Instead of pressing many different shortcuts to hide all of these individual view options, simply press the W key.

Align your drop caps
Often when you create a drop cap in InDesign, the left edge of the character isn’t perfectly aligned with the left edge of the text frame. Instead of inserting a white space character in front of the drop cap and then manually adding negative kerning to it, simply choose the Align Left Edge option in the Drop Caps and Nested Styles section in the Paragraph Styles Options dialog (found by choosing Style Options from the Paragraph Styles panel’s flyout menu).

Better WYSIWYG font previews
InDesign has had the ability to preview fonts in the font menus for quite a while. You can even change the size of the preview in the Type Preferences. I prefer to see my actual text on the page being “previewed” in the typeface I’m considering. To do so, select the text with the Type tool (T), then press Command-6 (PC: Ctrl-6). This will put focus into the Font field of the Control panel. Now use the Up and Down Arrow keys to move from font to font, and see your selected text change on the page.

Notes on frames
InDesign has the ability to insert notes in text. These notes can be managed with the Notes panel (Window>Type & Tables>Notes). Users have been asking for the ability to add notes to objects as well. While it was never intended for this, it turns out you can use the Script Label panel to add notes to objects. Select any object on a page, and then enter your note for that object in the Script Label panel (Window>Automation>Script Label).

Better polygons and starbursts
You can modify the attributes of a polygon (or starburst) as you create it. Just use the Arrow keys while you drag with the Polygon tool. The Left and Right Arrow keys change the amount of inset, and the Up and Down Arrow keys change the number of sides (or star points). These shortcuts work in Illustrator as well.

Kill the stroke!
Did you just draw a rectangle and end up with a stroke on it that you didn’t want? You can quickly change the fill and stroke attributes of any selected frame by pressing the following keys. First, press the X key to toggle between the Stroke and Fill attributes. The Comma key (,) applies the default color to the fill and stroke; the Period key (.) applies the default gradient to the fill and stroke; and the Forward Slash key (/) sets the current fill and stroke to None. These shortcuts work in Illustrator as well.

Scale frame and content at the same time
Say you have a frame that’s five inches wide, and you want to scale it and the picture inside the frame down to three inches wide. If you use the Scale X and Scale Y fields in the Control panel, you can scale both the frame and its image simultaneously, but you have to do the math because the Scale X and Scale Y fields use percentages by default. Don’t want to do the math? You don’t have to. Simply enter “3 in” into the Scale X field and press the Enter key.

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

By Lori DeFurio and Ali Hanyaloglu

Enable commenting in any document
You can allow anyone with the free Adobe Reader 9 to have access to the comment, markup, and analysis tools for any PDF document. Just open the PDF file in Acrobat 9 and select the Enable for Commenting and Analysis in Adobe Reader command from the Comments menu and then save the PDF before sending it out.

Add new layers
To add additional layers to an existing PDF file, first display the Layers navigation panel (View>Navigation Panels>Layers), then click on the panel Options button (it looks like two gears), and choose Import as Layer. If the PDF document to be imported has layers too, those will be preserved if you choose Copy Layers from Source under the Import Options section of the dialog.

Quick content information
An easy way to see information about a piece of content on the page, including text, is to use the Output Preview dialog (Advanced>Print Production>Output Preview) and select Object Inspector in the Preview list. Click on an object on the page, and the dialog will display lots of useful information about it and anything else in the stacking order where you clicked.

Keep commenting tools selected
To keep a comment or markup tool selected once you’ve used it, open the Properties bar (Command-E [PC: Ctrl-E]), click on one of the tools in the Comment & Markup bar, and then check the Keep Tool Selected option in the Properties bar. You’ll need to repeat this for each comment or markup tool that you want to remain selected after you use it.

Be a movie critic
You can comment on embedded Flash video in Acrobat 9 (or Reader 9 when the document is enabled for commenting). Pause the video at the right point, then comment on it with a tool when you see a green border around the video. Any comment will have a time code associated with it, which you’ll see in the pop-up note. You can jump back and forth to a point in the video that has a comment from the Comments panel.

Clear forms without a reset button
During form template development, you may want to test all the fields in your form. To easily reset all fields, select Forms>Clear Form.

Custom sort files in your PDF portfolio
To re-order the files in a PDF Portfolio, select Modify>Edit Portfolio from the top of the document window. Select Specify File Details from the Edit PDF Portfolio panel on the right. Under Columns to Display, select Number from the drop-down menu, enter a name in the text field, and then click the plus icon to add a new column. Click in the new column for each file to add values to reflect the sort order you desire. Select your new column from the Initial Sort drop-down menu in the Specify File Details panel.

Edit non-PDF files within a PDF portfolio
Once you’ve created a PDF portfolio, if you need to edit any of the files, just Control-click (PC: Right-click) on the file and select Open File in Native Application. Edit the file and when you save and close it, the modified file is automatically updated in the PDF portfolio document.

Overcome email limitations
Many organizations have email attachment size limitations. Both Acrobat and Adobe Reader 9 include a connection to, allowing you to upload and share your document(s) with anyone via a unique URL versus distributing an email attachment. Select File>Collaborate>Share Documents on Sign in using your free Adobe ID and password, and Acrobat will guide you through the process: which file(s) to share and who do you want to share them with. Then Acrobat will upload the file(s) to and automatically send the email with URL(s).

Set default view for video and flash
When you embed a video or flash object in a PDF document, you may want to control how it appears when the PDF document is opened or printed. When you import the multimedia object (using one of the tools under Tools>Multimedia), select Show Advanced Options in the Insert Video dialog and choose an option for the Poster Image. You can use a frame in the video; the default view of the Flash application; or you can specify a PDF, JPEG, BMP, GIF, or PNG file to be the default view.

Adobe Fireworks CS4

By Alan Musselman

Automate repetitive steps
For every action performed on the canvas, a step is generated in the History panel (Window>History). You can then select these steps and click on the Save Steps As a Command icon at the bottom of the panel to save and reuse them in other documents. Type a name in the Save Command dialog and click OK. The new command will be listed under the Commands menu and can also be used during a batch export (File>Batch Process).

Find and replace
Quickly find and replace color, fonts, or even URLs using the Find panel located at Edit>Find (Command-F [PC: Ctrl-F]). When replacing colors, note that not only can Find and Replace affect both strokes and fills but it can also change colors that are within Live Filters (which are applied through the Property Inspector) and even gradients.

Reuse attributes
A very powerful feature in Fireworks is the ability to quickly add the same look and feel of one object to other objects in the document. This can be a pain in other applications because you have to re-apply every property one at a time. You can easily copy-and-paste attributes to new or existing objects by selecting the object with the attributes you’d like to use, going to Edit>Copy, selecting the object to which you want to paste the attributes, and selecting Edit>Paste Attributes. This will retain the line weight, fill, and even Live Filter settings.

Rounded corners
You can change the rectangle Roundness in the Property Inspector from percentages (%) to pixels (px). This is helpful when designing CSS columns and you need to know the exact pixel radius amount for each corner.
Additional Tip: While drawing a rectangle on the canvas using the Rectangle tool (U) and before you let go of the button on the mouse, hold down the Up Arrow key to add roundness or the Down Arrow key to decrease roundness. Let go of the button on the mouse to create the rounded rectangle.

The power of the Path panel
The Path panel (Window>Others>Path) offers access to advanced vector features that make you more productive when prototyping and designing in Fireworks. With one click, you can apply common path operations, such as Union and Punch, eliminating the need to dive into menus to access commonly used options. For example, have you ever needed to sharpen a rounded vector corner to a straight corner? This can be done by selecting the points of the rounded corner with the Subselection tool (A) and applying the Sharpen Points option under the Edit Points section in the Path panel.

Navigate pages at the touch of a button
To easily navigate through your pages, use the Page Up and Page Down keys on your keyboard or use the Page drop-down menu at the top-right on the document window.

Visually resize canvas
You can quickly add canvas to your document. Just double-click the Crop tool icon (shortcut, type C) in the Toolbox to add the cropping boundary to the canvas. Click-and-drag on one of the control points to make the Crop area larger than the current canvas size and press Enter on the keyboard to apply the new size.

Flow text in a path
By selecting a text object and a closed path object and selecting the option Text>Attach In Path, the text block will be placed inside the path and will follow the path contours. This is extremely helpful when you want to simulate CSS and float an image within a text block.

Global styles
Create, apply, or save a style directly from the Property inspector. Click the New Style icon to create a style. This style will be added to the drop-down menu just above the style icons. If you modify the style and the style has been applied to multiple objects, simply click on the Redefine Style icon in the Property Inspector to update all other objects using the same style. This is a handy feature when you need to link other styles in the document to a particular style.

Suite integration
Be sure to take advantage of the tight integration of Fireworks CS4 with the other applications in the Creative Suite. Here are just a few examples:
Dreamweaver: Copy a selection or object in Fireworks and paste it directly into design view in Dreamweaver.
Flash: A button symbol copied from Fireworks and pasted into Flash will retain all states of the button including the hit state.
Photoshop: A bitmap or vector mask created in Fireworks will show up as an editable mask in Photoshop when saved as a PSD from Fireworks.
Illustrator: Opening an Illustrator CS4 document will convert any artboards to Pages in Fireworks. This is an effective workflow when you need to prototype or open design assets into Fireworks.

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional

By Richard Galvan

We’d also like to thank the following members of the Adobe Flash team for contributing to the Flash tips: Sean Kranzberg, Marisa Bozza, Chris Walcott, Quynh Khong, Ian Chase, Jen DeHaan, Tareq Al Jaber, and Erica Guerra.

When you’re hot, you’re hot
Hot text is not just for Property inspectors. (Note: Hot text (a.k.a. scrubby sliders) is any field that contains a measurement where you can click-and-drag to change that measurement.) Throughout Flash CS4, try using hot text controls with these two cool keyboard shortcuts:

1. Command (PC: Ctrl): When used with click-dragging hot text, this will divide sensitivity by a factor of 10.
2. Shift: When used with click-dragging hot text controls, this will increase sensitivity by a factor of 10.

When every second counts
Ever tweaked an animation exactly how you wanted it—only to have it run just a bit short on time? To extend a tween span on the Timeline without moving your current property keyframes (those all-powerful little diamond icons you’ve sweated over), move the cursor to the end of the tween span until you see a double-arrow cursor. Then hold the Shift key and click-and-drag the end of the span until it’s the desired length. Then walk away. Really.

When you have to make hundreds of balls bounce
Applying motion quickly to selected objects has never been faster. First, select an object—better yet, select a few, they’re small. Then select a preset name in the Motion Presets panel (Window>Motion Presets) and click Apply. By default, the current location of the object becomes the initial position of the animation, or you can hold the Shift key while you click Apply to make the current location the end position of the animation.

Yes, you’re hearing things
Unleash your inner Foley artist. Flash CS4 now comes with a collection of sample sounds from Soundbooth. To access them in Flash, select Window>Common Libraries>Sounds. Select from a variety of sounds including barking dogs and gunshots and easily add to your project with a simple drag-and-drop.

Assets can run, but they can’t hide
Flash CS4 can filter Library assets! If you work on projects with “ginormous” numbers of assets to manage, then with the Library panel (Window>Library) open, simply click into the Search field at the top of the Library tree and type in the key words of filenames you want to find. The assets will appear outside of their folder structure in one easy-to-view list. Press the Esc key or click the Clear icon (the x) in the Search field to return to the full list.

Snap to it
When using the Bone tool (X) to create a new armature, the transformation point is automatically set at the location of the mouse release. For more precise placement, first use the Free Transform tool (Q) to set the transformation point at the desired location on the symbol. Then in the Drawing Preferences (Flash [PC: Edit]>Preferences and then select Drawing in the Category list on the left) uncheck the Auto Set Transformation Point option for the IK Bone Tool. Now the bones will snap to the location of the transformation point when drawn.

Got a bone to pick?
Want to edit a specific bone without having to recreate the entire armature? IK Shape bone placement can be edited at Frame 1 immediately after creating the armature using the Subselection tool (A). Simply click-and-drag the head or tail of the bone to a new location. For armatures that are created with symbols, adjust the transformation point using the Free Transform tool (Q). Note: Bones should only be edited at Frame 1 prior to adding new frames and/or poses. Editing bone placement at any other frame other than Frame 1 can lead to unhappy surprises.

One stone—whole flock of birds
Flash CS4 also lets you edit the properties of multiple assets in the Library with one dialog. Just select a set of items in the Library and Control-click (PC: Right-click) on one of the selected items and select Properties to bring up the Editing Properties dialog. The dialog is now smart enough to only show you the properties that are common to the selection. If you choose all image assets, you’ll get all the image properties in one dialog. Choose multiple symbols and you can set linkage and base classes for all the selected symbols.

One way to keep a New Year’s resolution
Flash CS4 makes getting your symbols organized in your Library as easy as drag-and-drop. So after you’ve created a new symbol (Command-F8 [PC: Ctrl-F8]), simply drag the newly created symbol into an existing folder. You can also create a new folder as you’re creating a new symbol in the Create New Symbol dialog (just click on the text next to Folder and choose New Folder in the Move To dialog).

ActionScript goes green
You’ve got options for reusing an animation in your document with code. You can assign an instance name to an animation in the Motion Property inspector, then use this line of code—tweenInstanceName.addTarget (mcInstanceName)—to apply it to another instance in your FLA file. This ActionScript assigns the tween with the instance name tweenInstanceName to a movie clip with the instance mcInstanceName. Or you can simply copy the animation from a tween span as ActionScript: click the tween span and choose Copy Motion as ActionScript 3.0.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4

By Scott Fegette & Devin Fernandez

Code formatting on the fly
Have you inherited some CSS in a project or widget that’s just plain unreadable? Use the Apply Source Formatting feature and reformat it exactly to your specifications. Just click the Format Source Code icon at the bottom of the Coding toolbar (Edit>Toolbars>Coding) and select Code Format Settings to set your preferred formatting. You can then apply it with one click to any open file by selecting Apply Source Formatting from the Format Source Code icon.

Preview dynamic pages
The new Live View mode in Dreamweaver helps you visualize how your webpages will render in a browser—but what about dynamic “views” of a Web application such as WordPress? Select HTTP Request Settings from the View>Live View Options, then enter the GET or POST parameters you need to view your application correctly. Simple!

Design interactively
Another feature of Live View in Dreamweaver CS4 is the ability to freeze JavaScript. If you’re working on a highly styled drop-down menu, or want to design with a particular tab selected, just turn on Live View (View>Live View), interact with your page to get it into your preferred state, then hit F6. Your page is now frozen in place, and you can style that interactive interface with ease.

Widget mania!
Although Dreamweaver CS4 ships with Spry UI widgets for rapidly building Web interfaces, you might need to leverage other third-party solutions. Just click the Extend Dreamweaver icon (it looks like a gear) in your Application Bar and select Browse for Web Widgets. This will take you to the Adobe Exchange where you can find additional widgets from vendors such as Yahoo!, JQuery, and many others.

No-mess text formatting
Many people use Dreamweaver as a way to update content visually, as in a word processor. Before Dreamweaver CS4, this could result in redundant CSS rules like .class1, .class2, and so on. In Dreamweaver CS4, just switch your Property Inspector to HTML mode (click the HTML icon on the left of the Inspector) and you’ll say goodbye to all that redundant CSS, inserting only appropriate HTML markup.

Teleport to your CSS
The Code Navigator gives you access to the CSS code applied to a selection in more than just Design View. You can use Code Navigator in Live View, Code View, or even on the tag selector. To access the Code Navigator, just Command-Option-click (PC: Ctrl-Alt-click) on an item and a pop-up window will show you all CSS rules applied to your selection. Click a rule to be taken instantly to the related CSS source code. (Note: In the tag selector, click on a tag and then press Command-Option-N [PC: Ctrl-Alt-N].)

Visual aids for inspecting your CSS
Turn on the various CSS visual aids (View>Visual Aids) for a visual explanation of the mysteries of the box model, such as the margins, padding, and floats applied to a given page element. The CSS Layout Backgrounds visual aid option helps you sort out even complex layouts with their tricky nesting by applying a unique background color to each individual div tag.

Workspaces with a memory
The new Dreamweaver CS4 interface allows for flexible, configurable panels and inspectors—you can drag them into new positions, into new floaters, and more. But even better, if you’ve found a comfortable layout that works better for you, save it as a new workspace (Designer Compact>New Workspace), give it a name, and then you can recall it—along with many other workflow-specific configurations—with a single mouse click.

Professional forms
Want to validate your form fields like the pros, but worried that you’ll have to rebuild from scratch? No worries. Simply select an existing form element, such as a text field, and apply a Spry Validation widget from the Insert>Spry menu. Then control validation requirements such as minimum or maximum characters directly from the Property inspector.

Dynamic data for the rest of us
The Spry Data Set feature lets you create dynamic content, such as a dynamic table, without the hassle of a database. Let the Spry Data Set wizard (Insert>Spry>Spry Data Set) guide you through defining a data source and placing the data in a dynamic Spry table on your page. To keep things even simpler, use a basic HTML table as your data source.

Adobe After Effects CS4

By Michael Coleman

Your text animation system is a 3D vector graphics toolkit
The After Effects text animation system is very powerful. So why not use it for more than just text? For example, use the airplane character in the Webdings typeface with text animation presets to create a vector graphics animation. To find the presets, open the Effects & Presets panel (Window>Effects & Presets). Twirl down Animation Presets and then twirl down Text for various sets of text animation presets. Double-click on a preset to add it to the text.

Find things much faster now
The Project, Timeline, and Effects & Presets panels each contain search fields that you can use to filter items in the panel. There’s also a Search Help field at the top of the application window, which uses the Community Help search engine to search the online resources most relevant to the application. This search includes Adobe Help documents, technical support documents, forums, and tutorials and articles on other trusted websites—such as the Layers magazine website.

Render once
In After Effects, you don’t have to render multiple times to export to multiple formats. You can apply multiple output modules to each render item. (Note: To add a comp to the Render Queue, go to Composition>Add to Render Queue.) To add a new output module to a render item, click the plus sign to the left of the Output To heading of the last output module for the render item.

Hundreds of freebies waiting just for you
To exchange scripts, projects, and other useful items with other users, go to the Adobe Exchange. You can find the After Effects Exchange by visiting and then clicking on After Effects in the Exchanges by Product area.

Your spreadsheet is a keyframe editor
You can copy-and-paste keyframes as tab-delimited text. Just select keyframes for one or more properties on the same layer, then choose Edit>Copy. You can paste the keyframe data in a spreadsheet program—such as Microsoft Excel—to analyze, create, and edit keyframes.

Your right mouse button wants you to work faster
Rather than hunting around in the menus at the top of the application window for a command, try Control-clicking (PC: Right-clicking) on keyframes, layers, and just about anything else to bring up a contextual menu. Most commands that are useful in a specific context are available from the contextual menu.

Your Shift and Arrow keys want you to work faster, too
Navigating nested compositions just got a lot faster. When you tap the Shift key, the Composition Mini-Flowchart opens to show the compositions immediately upstream and downstream of the selected composition. You can then use the Arrow keys to navigate through the nested compositions.

You don’t (always) have to manually set composition settings
When you drag a footage item in the Project panel to the Create a New Composition icon at the bottom of the panel, After Effects creates a new composition with composition settings that match the characteristics of the footage item—including duration, frame size, and pixel aspect ratio. If you drag multiple footage items, you can create one composition from all of the items or a new composition from each. You can even automatically sequence the layers.

Your shape layers want to wiggle
Add a Wiggle Transform operation and a Repeater operation to a shape to randomize (wiggle) the properties of the repeated shapes. (Note: To add a Wiggle Transform and Repeater operation, twirl down the layer in the Timeline, and then to the right of Contents click on the arrow next to Add.) If the Wiggle Transform operation precedes the Repeater operation, then all of the repeated shapes will be randomized in the same way. If the Repeater operation precedes the Wiggle Transform operation, then each of the repeated shapes will be randomized independently.

You don’t need to preserve colors when pulling a key
Sometimes it’s hard to key out a background without messing up the colors of the foreground subject that you’re trying to isolate. Rather than trying to get everything keyed out and looking good on a single layer, try this: Duplicate the layer (Command-D [PC: Ctrl-D]), apply the keying effect to the top layer, and use the top layer as a track matte for the underlying layer. (Note: To apply a track matte, click the Toggle Switches/Modes button at the very bottom of the Timeline until you see the TrkMat column, and then select one of the transparency options from the drop-down menu.) You can use the Levels effect (Effect>Color Correction>Levels) to exaggerate color differences in the top layer before applying the keying effect.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4

By Giles Baker

We’d also like to thank the following members of the Adobe Premiere Pro team for contributing to the Premiere tips: George Lamore, Zac Lam, Dennis Radeke, and Wes Howell

Take it to the max
The Tilde (~) key maximizes the frame of the panel that your cursor is over, not the currently active panel. This makes it very fast to maximize any panel—just move the cursor over it and hit the shortcut key.

Freedom of speech
When exporting a Timeline with speech search metadata, Premiere Pro collects all the speech metadata and puts it in the final exported file. You can exclude speech information from a specific track by locking the track before export.

Hide thumbnails to increase performance
Turning off thumbnails in the Timeline makes performance much faster, particularly when working with stills. To turn off the thumbnails, expand the video track in the Timeline by clicking on the right-facing arrow to the left of the track’s name. This will reveal the Set Display Style icon. Click on the icon and choose Show Name Only.

Leave the audio behind
The Drag Video Only icon (filmstrip) and Drag Audio Only icon (speaker) in the Source Monitor (Window>Source Monitor) allow you to take just video or just audio to the Timeline from the Source panel. This is particularly useful since you often don’t need the audio that’s attached to a video clip.

Fast Timeline zooms
If you find yourself repeatedly zooming in to work on small sections of your Timeline, the Backslash key can toggle between a close-up and a global view of your Timeline. You can also tap the plus (+) and minus (–) keys to incrementally zoom in or out, respectively.

Select just the audio or video in a linked clip
Use the Option key (PC: Alt key) to select video or audio only on a linked clip in the Timeline. To make minor adjustments to sync, select the audio portion and hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) down while using the Arrow keys to nudge the audio forward or backward in the Timeline.

Delete a clip without leaving a gap
Select a clip in the Timeline and then use the Option key (PC: Alt key) in conjunction with the Delete key (PC: Backspace key) to perform a ripple delete. This is a very fast way to remove a clip in the Timeline without leaving an open space between any clips that appear before and after the deleted clip.

Add effects to an entire track
If you’d like to apply an audio effect to an entire track, simply open the Audio Mixer (Window>Audio Mixer) and apply an effect to a specific track. This eliminates the need to work with audio effects on a clip-by-clip basis. To apply an effect in the Audio Mixer, click the Show/Hide Effects and Sends icon near the top-left corner of the panel (it’s a small right-facing triangle). Then click one of the Effect Selection icons (a down-facing arrow) in the gray column for the track to which you want to add an effect.

Keyboard shortcut spreadsheet
There’s a secret way to get a spreadsheet of all the keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro: Hold down Shift-Command (PC: Shift-Ctrl) as you open the Keyboard Customization dialog (Edit>Keyboard Customization), and there will be a special >>Clipboard button. This button allows you to copy all the keyboard shortcuts, which you can then paste into an Excel spreadsheet and print.

Field order
The Interpret Footage dialog has a new feature in CS4 that hasn’t received much publicity: You can now change the way Premiere Pro interprets the field order of a clip. You can see what Premiere Pro thinks the footage is (upper field first, lower field first, progressive), and override it if necessary. (Note: To access the Interpret Footage dialog, Control-click [PC: Right-click] on a clip in the Project panel and select Interpret Footage.)

Contributor Bios:

Tom Hogarty
Tom Hogarty is the Senior Product Manager for Adobe Systems Professional Digital Imaging Department. His primary product responsibilities are Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in, and the DNG File Format. Prior to joining Adobe, Hogarty worked in New York City as a consultant to professional photographers as they converted film to a digital workflow.

John Nack
John Nack is Principal Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop. Prior to joining Adobe, John was a Web designer and animator at AGENCY.COM New York. He joined Adobe in 2000, working on the Web animation tool LiveMotion. John has been on the Photoshop team since 2002 and has worked on features such as Adobe Camera Raw, Smart Objects, Vanishing Point, the File Browser, and Adobe Bridge.

Bryan O’Neil Hughes
Bryan O’Neil Hughes is a Product Manager on the Photoshop Team and a Product Evangelist for the Lightroom Team. Since 1999, Bryan has helped to test, drive, and demonstrate Adobe’s professional imaging solutions. Bryan speaks worldwide on behalf of Adobe and can often be found leading workshops, seminars, and user groups. Beyond Adobe, Bryan is a published editor, author, and photographer.

David Macy
David Macy is Senior Product Manager for Adobe Illustrator. He has been working in the graphic arts field for nearly 20 years, with a focus on digital printing. Before joining Adobe, he was Director of Product Planning and Design at EFI. David studied Psychology at UC Berkeley and Illustration at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He holds a U.S. patent related to server-based color management systems and is an accomplished steel sculptor.

Michael Ninness
Michael Ninness is the Senior Product Manager for InDesign. He has more than ten years experience as a product manager and user interface designer of software products for creative professionals. Michael is a frequent and top-rated presenter at numerous industry events including Photoshop World, PhotoPlus Expo, PMA, Macworld, FlashForward, Flash on the Beach, Web Design World, and the HOW Design Conference. He is the author of several Photoshop video training titles published by

Ali Hanyaloglu
Ali Hanyaloglu has been with Adobe and involved with Acrobat for 12 years. He’s a Certified Adobe Expert and currently serves as Product Evangelist on the Adobe Acrobat Product Team, helping people everywhere learn, understand, and use this powerful and essential technology. You can find Ali on the Acrobat channel on Adobe TV ( and as the author of the blog “The Same Page” (

Lori DeFurio
Lori DeFurio has been involved with Acrobat during her entire 12-year tenure at Adobe. Currently, Lori leads the Acrobat Enablement team, which involves traveling around the world, speaking at conferences, workshops, and Acrobat User Groups where she teaches people how to get the most out of Acrobat. Lori also writes an informative blog at and an ongoing column at

Richard Galvan
Richard Galvan is the Product Manager for Flash at Adobe Systems. Formerly a senior field evangelist focusing on Flash, Richard has been educating and consulting customers about interactive media and Flash technologies since joining Adobe (formerly Macromedia) in 1999. Richard has presented to thousands of users, developers, and designers around the world, letting them experience what Flash has to offer, and helping grow and support the Flash community.

Scott Fegette
Scott Fegette is the Technical Product Manager for Dreamweaver at Adobe. Before joining the Dreamweaver team, he was both a Flash Video evangelist and an engineering manager on the Macromedia Web team responsible for building the site infrastructure, services, and architecture that delivers today. Before joining Macromedia in 2000, Scott cut his teeth at Web design and development as the director of online services for former Santa Barbara-based software developers MetaCreations.

Devin Fernandez
Devin Fernandez is the Senior Product Manager for the Adobe Creative Suite. He actively engages with the end-user community to better understand the primary design obstacles encountered in Web and interactive design today. In the product development process, he’s the customer advocate, bringing the creative and strategic direction required to define compelling product feature sets that solve real-world design problems.

Alan Musselman
Alan Musselman is an Application Architect for Adobe Fireworks and helps define features, prioritizes bugs, engages the community and is found evangelizing productivity features when he has a chance. He has more than 10 years of Web design and developer experience and has worked at Adobe for the past four years with a strong passion for Adobe Fireworks.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman is the Product Manager for Adobe After Effects, the industry-standard software for visual effects and motion graphics. In this role, Coleman is responsible for product strategy and incorporating customer needs into product plans.

Giles Baker
Giles Baker is the Group Product Manager at Adobe Systems Incorporated, responsible for the professional video editing business, an integral part of Adobe’s Dynamic Media Organization, which provides comprehensive video and Web solutions supporting entire creative workflows from conceptualization through delivery. Baker joined Adobe in 2001 as the Senior Product Manager of Adobe Encore DVD, leading the program from inception through versions 1.5 and 2.0.