June 10, 2010

Adobe Configurator – finally customizable Photoshop!

Every now and then I come across a program that makes it feel like I’ve won the lottery. I had heard about Adobe Configurator and had even watched quite a few videos on it, but at the time I was using Photoshop CS3 and it does not work with anything before CS4. Myself, I usually upgrade about every other version and when CS5 was released I upgraded within the first week or so.

I spend a lot of time in Photoshop editing and manipulating photos and graphics, so anything that makes it quicker and easier I definitely like. I immediately went out and did some more homework on the Configurator. You can download it online for free at Adobe Labs

At home I’ve got a two-monitor set-up and most of the time I would just put my panels on the other screen. I’m a big fan of Wacom Tablets and I’ve been using them for about 4 yrs. When I’m in Photoshop I rarely ever use a mouse so I’m using my pen to navigate and edit. I’ve been using Photoshop since 6.0, so I already knew tons of shortcut keys and commands, but even so, sometimes I had to use two hands to hit some of the shortcut keys and it would be much easier to just tap a button. If you are like me, you don’t use half of the items in the menus anyhow? I know that you can customize the menus and create your own shortcuts, but some times you still have to go hunt for certain tools and then you have to dig through menus or scroll through dialog boxes just to activate them. For years I thought that with all of Adobes technology that they should come out with a program that would let me create my own panels and add just the things I use daily, finally Configurator is that program!

The Adobe Configurator is a utility that lets you create custom panels (palettes) for use in Adobe Photoshop CS4 or CS5. It also works in Adobe InDesign CS5 for those who work with that program. Think of Configurator as a box of Legos--an application that lets you drag and drop all the tools and menu items in Photoshop, and then even lets you add actions or scripts, and even add various widgets complete with images or videos. Adobe Configurator makes it all this pretty easy to do. You can create your own panels in the Configurator panel and them just export the results into Photoshop or InDesign, nice huh?

I know it sounds pretty complicated, but seriously, I sat down with a cup of coffee (or two) and played around with it for a couple hours. But I finally created just the perfect panel for me. One of the biggest obstacles for me was making the panel the correct size. I wanted mine to look exactly like it was built into the program at the factory. I had to play around with it for quite awhile until I got the exact measurements for my own personal panel. The one I have in the photo is 230 wide by 372 height, but you can change yours to fit your own layout. You can also change the size of the buttons or re-arrange them to get just the right look. Once you get the hang of it, you can go back in anytime and easily edit your panels in minutes. Another nice feature is that if you have another PC (maybe a Laptop) you just download Configurator onto it and then you can just export the panel or panels you just created and instantly load them on that computer too! Through trial and error, I created the panel that works for me and now I have a custom panel that has all my favorite tools and actions loaded on it in one spot and I can control them all with the simple click of a button. One of the only obstacles was when creating or loading a Configurator Panel, you had to sign into Photoshop as the administrator. Believe me, it took quite awhile to overcome that problem. But, now I've got a Panel that does everything I want it to do and don't have to go hunting for a tool or remember the shortcut keys........Nice huh?

If you’re a trainer or you teach Photoshop or InDesign, you can also add video panels or text panels with buttons for any of the commands. Configurator will let you create as many panels as you’d like and set them up exactly the way you want. Load one at a time or load all of them, its up to you. I’ve included a few links to videos, grab yourself a coffee and check them out. One of these is narrated by John Nack of Adobe online and you might want to check that out. If you’re like me, you’re going to love Adobe Configurator too! I'm sorry to say that Configurator will not (at least I can't figure it out) on the Cloud, but if you've got a full version of CS4, 5 or CS6 your all set. I hope you enjoy this article. And remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography