Adobe Photoshop is arguably one of the most versatile image manipulation and digital design tools on the market. It’s an invaluable asset for anyone who produces or shares virtually any kind of content, but there are more features and abilities available than first meets the eye.
Check out my 3 favourite Photoshop Life-Hacks and share this post if you learned something new. Oh, and leave a comment below to share your own favourite Photoshop tricks and tips!
1. Bulk Image Processing
One of the most painfully boring tasks to deal with in Photoshop is editing en masse.
Say you’ve just received an SD card filled to the brim with big, beautiful photos. Yay! The only problem is, they’re all too big to upload to your website. You could drag them all into Photoshop and shrink them down one-by-one, manually saving and renaming each one, but don’t. There is a better way!
With Photoshop’s fantastic Image Processor feature, you can get your computer to do all of that by itself in mere moments. Here’s how:
Make a new folder and place all the images you want to process into it.
Open Photoshop and navigate to File > Scripts > Image Processor…
In section 1, click the “Select Folder” button and select the folder with your images in it from the file browser, then click open.
For section 2, make sure “Save in Same Location” is checked. This will tell the processor to create a folder within your new folder called JPEG and place all the processed copies of the images into it. It will not make changes to the original images.
In section 3, define the parameters to apply to each image. Check “Save as JPEG” and “Resize to Fit”. For my purposes, I like to still keep my pictures relatively large and at a decent quality, but still well under a megabyte, so I set my max dimensions at 1800px and quality at 8 (12 is the highest quality setting and will make your files quite large).
Finally, click Run and the processing will begin. Depending on your computer, your selected settings, and the number of images you’re processing, it may be complete in an instant, or take up to several minutes. During this time, you may notice Photoshop flashing white repeatedly or displaying your images for fractions of a second. This is normal, do not close Photoshop and allow it to run until it stops flashing.
Once the processing is complete, your processed images will all be neatly displayed in a folder titled JPEG within your original folder, ready to go.
2. Scraping Images from PDFs
Let’s imagine for a moment, someone has just sent you a PDF file with lots of great content you want to post on a website, including some sweet photos and graphics. It’s easy enough to copy text from a PDF, but standard PDF readers don’t always offer the ability to save individual images out of the file. What are you to do?
Never fear, Photoshop is here!
Boot up Photoshop and navigate to File > Open…, then select your PDF from the file browser and click Open.
In the Import PDF window, check the “Images” box at the top left to view all the images that Photoshop was able to find in the document.
Shift+Click to select a series of images, or Command+Click on Mac (or Ctrl+Click on Windows) to select multiple non-sequential images.
Once you’ve selected all the images you want from the document, click OK and they will all be opened separately in Photoshop.
Finally, just name and save each image and you’re done!
3. Smart Blur to make graphics Sharper!
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? How can using a blur filter make anything sharper?
Well, the magic of Smart Blur is that it looks for the edges of shapes and smooths out the solid parts. For graphics such as logos or icons that have suffered compression, this is perfect. As long as there aren’t too many tiny details to confuse the algorithm, it should remove compression artifacts and sharpen edges without impacting the shape of the graphic.
You might be asking, “Why not just use the Sharpen filter?“, and that is a very astute question. The issue with Sharpen is that it will actually intensify artifacts, rather than wiping them away.
Keep in mind, this process is finicky and can sometimes get confused by gradients or shapes without clear edges, so watch out that you don’t mess up the image. You should really only use this method as a last-resort if you are unable to find a higher quality version of the graphic.
Open the image you want to sharpen. If it’s a rather small image (say, under 300px wide), you can go to Image > Image Size and increase the size by anything under double its original size. It will become larger (and more blurry), but this may yield a better result after applying the Smart Blur.
Make sure the edges of the graphic are not touching the sides of the document. If they are, go to Image > Canvas Size and increase the width and height by about 20px, making sure that the background colour is the same as the background of your graphic.
Once you’re satisfied with the dimensions of your image, navigate to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur…
In the Smart Blur window, set the quality to High and the mode to Normal, then use the Radius and Threshold sliders to focus the image. Each image is likely to have a different sweet spot on the sliders, so just use the preview box above and test different percentages until the artefacts are gone and the graphic is clear.
Click OK and the Smart Blur will apply to your image! Now all you have to do is save it (be sure that if you are saving as a JPEG, you set the quality to at High or Max, otherwise artefacts will be reintroduced).
Look closely at the two images below. In the image on the left, you’ll notice a lot of fuzzy artefacts around the edges of the text and graphics. On the right, they’ve been cleared away by Smart Blur. Click on an image to get a closer look.
And there you have it, folks: my 3 most favouritest Photoshop Life-Hacks.