Photoshop: Must-Do Preferences for Easy Scrapping

PREFS Photoshop: Must Do Preferences for Easy Scrapping If you're new to Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements), or if you've recently upgraded to a newer version, there are a few settings you're going to want to look at before you get started. Some are settings you set and forgot so long ago you don't remember what you did, and others are newer options that make the program work differently than before. Either way, it can be confusing and frustrating when your settings aren't set the way you're accustomed to. Here are the things that I always have new students check and change:


In the Menu Bar, go to Edit> Preferences> General.Prefs1 300x219 Photoshop: Must Do Preferences for Easy Scrapping
  • Check the Zoom with Scroll Wheel box (if you have a mouse with a scroll wheel). This is my favorite thing; it makes getting around on layouts so much easier and faster.
  • Check the Zoom Clicked Point to Center box. This will make it zoom in to whatever you last clicked on. Very handy and less scrolling around!
  • UN-Check the Place or Drag Raster Images as Smart Objects. Smart Objects are useful when you are going to resize them up or down a lot, as they maintain a good look. But there are a lot of things you can't do with a Smart Object, like erase part of it. For that reason, I un-check this box, and if I want to make something a Smart Object, I can right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Now click on Interface in the menu at the left of the Preferences window.Prefs2 300x148 Photoshop: Must Do Preferences for Easy Scrapping
  • UN-Check the Open Documents as Tabs box. This will open files each in their own window, like the program used to do. Of course, if you like tabbed windows, keep this checked.
  • UN-Check the Enable Floating Document Window Docking box. This will keep you from inadvertently re-tabbing your windows when you drag them around.
Now click on Type in the menu at the left of the Preferences window.Prefs31 300x148 Photoshop: Must Do Preferences for Easy Scrapping
  • At the bottom where it says Font Preview Size, choose a size that's comfortable for you. I prefer Large, but I know people who want Extra Large or even Huge. This will change the size of the font names when you pull down the font menu to choose a font. The older I get, the larger I make my font previews.

Photoshop Elements

Go to Edit> Preferences> General.
  • UN-Check the Allow Floating Documents in Full Edit Mode box.
  • Check the Zoom with Scroll Wheel box.
Now click on Type in the menu at the left of the Preferences window.
  • Click on the pull down menu by Font Preview Size and choose the size that works for you.
What settings do you prefer? Is there something you know that would make my life better? Share in the comments!    Send article as PDF   
  • Chelle

    I CAN SEE!!! LOL! Most of those I’ve already adjusted, but I didn’t know about the type size. Woot!

    • Jennifer White

      isn’t the type thing great? Best thing that happened to middle aged ladies yet!

  • Malinda

    Wowza!! Thanks for the tips!!

  • Connie

    Thank You.. its gonna be easier to zoom…Thanks , I feel like I just discovered something..

    • Jennifer White

      Connie, you did! You’re a superstar now :) Glad you like the zoom tip, that’s my favorite, I can’t function if that’s not turned on!

  • mum2gnt

    I have just gone through all this for CS6. There are a few other things I do as well:
    Save workspace. I have 2 – one for photo editing and one for digiscrapping.
    Amount of undoos – CS6 can undo up to 999 times (not sure abouyt previous versions) – the more undoos though the slower the system. I set at 50
    You can also change the BG colour too to anything you like.
    You can change the ruler line colours.
    Oh and lets not forget the toolbox – change it to suit your personal needs!
    The one thing I would like to change but haven’t figured it out yet is the drop shadow colour – it’s always defaulted to black. I want to change that. I should look into it one day!
    Thanks so much for the reminder though.

    • Jennifer White

      Ooh, I forgot about the undo!! That’s excellent. And I never mess with my toolbox, though I should. I tend to leave the visible things they way they are because I record learning videos, but I could set up a separate workspace for that. I feel another post coming on! Thanks for the good tips. I don’t know about the drop shadow color, I’ll look into that. At one point I finally figured out how to change the default on my stroke, maybe it’s the same (if I can remember what I did!).

  • Marilyn

    I’m just learning PS, so this is helpful. Thanks.

  • Lahni

    Just a warning to anyone using PSE 9 on a mac. DO NOT even go to the file save preferences window. You can play with any of the other preference areas but there is a bug (which I discovered after reading this article) in PSE 9 for mac – if you even go to that window (even if you don’t click on anything at all) it will change your save setting to never attach a file extension and it will stick there. The only way to fix it is to restart and hold command, option shift which will delete all your settings. This has apparently been fixed in PSE 10 but there is no fix for 9.

    • Jennifer White

      Wow, Lahni, that’s good to know! I’m so sorry if I caused you trouble. It’s good for everyone to know how to delete their preferences file on startup like you did, I’ll have to put that into a blog post sometime. Often when things go wrong in PS or PSE, deleting that file will fix it. Time for an upgrade I guess! I have to say, I like PSE10 much better than 9, so maybe you can move up to it sometime soon!

      • Lahni

        I’m trying to decide between PSE 10 and the full version – that’s why I haven’t upgraded yet. :)

        • Jennifer White

          Oh lucky you! If you can afford it, get the full version! If only for the ease of installing actions and styles :) Either way, you’ll be happy!

          • Lee

            Hello, I too am comparing PSE to PS for scrapbooking purposes on a Mac Mini and can you please tell me what you mean by “for the ease of installing actions and styles.” Does that mean that in PSE, one can’t use either styles or actions? If it is not too much of a bother, can you also tell me some other major differences between the two (in terms of scrapping.)

            Thanks so much in advance for any help! :)

          • Jennifer White

            Lee, I don’t know much about Macs, but the programs function about the same on PCs. To install a style or action in PSE you have to go into the program’s data folders and copy the files there then restart the program. There’s more than one file for each thing. In PS, you can load them right from inside the program as you’re working just by selecting a menu item. MUCH easier. I think it really comes down to how you work. If you like to make stuff yourself, and will make use of the ability to draw vectors (like text on a path) and use a lot of styles and actions, AND you can afford it, PS is the way to go. But if price is a concern, or you’re just using things you got in kits without wanting to change them much, then PSE is perfectly adequate. PSE 10 lets you do layer masks and lots of great stuff, we recommend it for our new digiscrappers. I use it when I don’t want to wait the longer time for PS to boot up, or I just want to scrap something fast. HTH!

  • Robin Sampson

    THANK YOU!! Great tips. Love the scroll zoom.

  • Lee

    Thank you So Much Jennifer for taking the time to give me such an informative answer! :-)

  • Mary(Catlady)

    Oh WoW!!! So happy I found your awesome Tip! I love it…… Super Bigggg Thank you! You made my life easier!