How to Use Photoshop Tool Presets

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Open the Tool Presets Palette

Photoshop Tool Presets Palette
Photoshop Tool Presets Palette.

Creating tool presets in Photoshop is an excellent way to speed up your workflow and remember your favorite and most-used settings. A tool preset is a named, saved version of a tool and specific related settings such as width, opacity and brush size.

To work with tool presets, first open the tool presets palette by going to “Window > Tool Presets.” Depending on the current tool you have selected in the Photoshop toolbar, the presets palette will either display a list of presets or a message that no presets exist for the current tool. Some Photoshop tools come with built in presets, and others do not.

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Experiment With Default Tool Presets

Crop Tool Presets
Crop Tool Presets.

You can set up presets for almost any tool in Photoshop. Since the crop tool comes with some simple presets, it’s a good starting point. Choose the crop tool in the toolbar and notice the list of default presets in the tool presets palette. Standard photo crop sizes such as 4x6 and 5x7 are available. Click on one of the choices and the values will automatically populate the height, width and resolution fields of the crop toolbar. If you click through some of the other Photoshop tools, such as the Brush and Gradient, you will see more default presets.

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Creating Your Own Tool Presets

Photoshop Tool Presets

While some of the default presets are of course helpful, the real power in this palette is creating your own tool presets. Select the crop tool again, but this time, enter your own values in the fields at the top of your screen. To create a new crop preset out of these values, click the “create new tool preset” icon at the bottom of the tool presets palette. This icon is highlighted in yellow in the screenshot. Photoshop will automatically recommend a name for the preset, but you can rename it to fit the use. This can come in handy if you are often cropping images to the same size for a client or project.

Once you understand the concept of the preset, it is easy to see how helpful they can be. Try creating presets for a variety of tools, and you will see that you can save any combination of variables. Using this feature will allow you to save your favorite fills, text effects, brush sizes and shapes, and even eraser settings.

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Tool Presets Palette Options

Photoshop Tool Presets

The small arrow in the top right of the tool presets palette, which is highlighted in the screenshot, gives you some options for changing the palette view and your presets. Click to arrow to reveal options to rename presets, view different list styles, and even save and load sets of presets. Often, you would not want to display all of your presets all of the time, so you could use the save and load options to create preset groups for specific projects or styles. You will see there are already some default groups in Photoshop.

Using tool presets consistently can save you a great deal of time, avoiding the need to enter detailed variables for each use of a tool, especially when you are repeating tasks and styles.

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