Files and Managing
efore you start a project, take a few minutes to get organized. This
Save Time By
may seem like a waste of time — you’re excited and you want to get
Maintaining projects started — but a little organization now goes a long way in helping
you work smarter, not harder.
Navigating the File
Browser Some projects can consist of one or two image files, while other projects
can be made up of hundreds. Even if you don’t think you’ll end up with a
Organizing your images
ton of image files, many projects created in Photoshop CS and Image-
Adding virtual notes and Ready, Photoshop’s sister program, end up involving literally hundreds
voice messages of files. How do you organize all this?
Thankfully, Photoshop CS comes with a great organizing tool, the File
Browser. The File Browser is more than just a window showing thumb-
nails of your image files. It is a pretty complete asset management system
that you can use to, well, manage your assets (image files). With the File
Browser, you can create a folder system to organize image files, search
for images using thumbnails, move and rename images, flag and rank
images, and much more. This technique covers the ins and outs of how
to use the File Browser and includes tips for organizing image folders to
help your workflow.
In addition, this technique shows you how to add virtual sticky notes or
vocal annotations to an image and gives you a few tips about which
image files you should save and which ones you should discard.
Managing Your Projects
If you take a few minutes to organize folders and files before embarking
upon a project, you’ll be more organized, be able to find the image files
you want to work on, and reduce the possibility of deleting files that may
When I start on a project, I create a master folder that contains all the
folders and files for that project. Usually, I give this folder a name that
refers to the project and helps me find it quickly (especially when I arrive
at the computer in the morning bleary-eyed because my little son has
kept me up all night!).
10 Technique 1: Organizing Image Files and Managing Projects
Inside this master folder are more folders that divide
the project into parts. For instance, if I’m working on Using the File Browser
a new series of images that I’ve scanned, I create one
Scans folder that contains the original scanned The File Browser is your place for one-stop shopping
images, another Working folder that contains all the when you need to find image files, open them, save
files I’m working on, and a third Finished folder that copies, rename them, flag or rank them, and so on.
contains only completed image files. I never save The File Browser is a large window, which you can
over any of the original scanned images in the Scan open by clicking the Toggle File Browser button on
folder; instead I save a copy in the Working folder. the Options bar, choosing File➪Browse, or pressing
That way, if I make a huge, tremendous mistake, I Ctrl+Shift+O (the letter)/Ô+Shift+O (the letter).
always have the original available.
The File Browser, shown in Figure 1-1, is divided into
This is only one way to go about it. You can have two sections. Four palettes are on the left side of the
folders within a Working folder that are dated so that window and a Preview pane is on the right:
you know what you were working on when; you can
also divide up a project by its pieces — if you’re The Folders palette shows you a branching, hier-
working on a brochure, for example, you could have archical view of all your folders and files. The
tree structure lets you dig around in folders to
Front Flap, Panel 1, and Back Flap folders. What I’m
find your image files.
suggesting is to take the time to think about your
project before you start working on it. Take a good The Preview palette shows you a thumbnail
old-fashioned piece of paper and a pen or some 3 x 5 image that is selected in the Preview pane. If you
cards and block out the process of your project. If double-click the preview image in the Preview
you take the time now to think about what you’re palette, the image opens.
creating and how you’re going to create it, you save The Metadata palette displays information about
a huge amount of time in the long run. the currently selected image file, including file
size, date created, image height and width, reso-
Deciding which files to discard lution, color mode, camera data, and other
important info. The Metadata palette also
Another workflow issue is what I call housekeeping — deciding includes a GPS section that you can set to the
which files are valuable and need to be kept, and which exact position on the earth where you took the
images can head toward the virtual circular file. photo (just in case you want to return to the
Because my computer has a large hard drive, I tend to keep exact spot!).
more than I probably should. I always have that lingering The Keywords palette displays keywords
thought in the back of my mind, “What if I need that layer
assigned to an image. You can group and organ-
mask, or need this technique again?”
ize images by these keywords.
My best advice for deciding which images to delete is to
The Preview pane shows thumbnail previews of
carefully consider where your project is heading. Is a partic-
ular image file one that you used to test a specific technique the image file types that Photoshop CS supports.
that didn’t work? Then, fine, delete it. Be careful, though,
because after an image file is gone, it’s gone. Take a look at
Technique 7 for tips about creating backups and snapshots.
Also, if you have a CD-R or CD-RW, you can archive your
files on a CD-ROM disc. This saves you precious hard drive
space and still saves any files you might want to keep “just
Using the File Browser 11
Flag an image To navigate through your folders in the Folders
palette, on a PC click the plus sign next to a folder
Click to view palette menu Delete Preview pane name to view all the subfolders inside that folder.
On a Mac, click the triangle next to a folder name
to view the subfolders.
To move a file to a different folder, select the
image file in the Preview pane, and then drag it
to the desired folder in the Folders palette.
To delete a file, you can either select it in the
Preview pane and then press the Delete key, drag
the image from the Preview pane to the trashcan
icon at the top of the File Browser window, or
right-click/option-click on the thumbnail in the
Preview pane and choose the Delete option from
the context-sensitive menu.
Renaming individual files
To rename an individual file, click the filename below
the thumbnail in the Preview pane. The filename
becomes highlighted. Type a new name for the
Palettes Click here to expand the Preview pane image file, and then click the image thumbnail. When
• Figure 1-1: The File Browser makes finding and opening you click the image’s filename to rename it, only the
images easy. filename is selected, not the three-letter file exten-
sion that tells Photoshop CS what kind of file it is
File Browser basics (such as .tif or .pdf). You must drag over the file
extension to change the file type, if you want.
The first step to managing your image files is to
understand the basic functionality of the File If you’re a Mac user and you send files to
Browser — opening files, selecting images in the someone using a PC, remember to add the
Preview pane, moving files to different folders, and three-letter file extension to your filenames.
deleting files. Here’s a list of the basics: You can tell Photoshop to automatically add
the extension to the filename when saving the
To select a file in the Preview pane, just click the image file. Either press Option+K and then
image thumbnail. A larger version of the selected Option+2, or choose Edit➪Preferences➪
image thumbnail appears in the Preview palette. File Handling to open the Preferences dialog
box. Select the Always option from the
To open a file, either double-click the image Append File Extension drop-down list. In addi-
thumbnail in the Preview pane, double-click the tion, select the Use Lower Case option as well.
image thumbnail in the Preview palette, or select This ensures compatibility with other plat-
the image in the Preview pane and then choose forms, including UNIX, and makes any Web
File➪Open from the File Browser menu. graphics you create work on any platform.
12 Technique 1: Organizing Image Files and Managing Projects
Batch renaming 4. Use the File Naming area to select how you
want to rename the files.
When you use the Batch Rename command, you can
rename the files in the folder where they currently You have the option of appending up to six differ-
live or move them to a different folder. (Remember: ent file variables with the drop-down menus,
Moving files does just that — it moves them to a new such as a serial number or letter, or a date
folder instead of creating copies.) Also, you can add (shown in Figure 1-3). For example, I want the
up to six different additions to each filename, such images I selected in Step 1 renamed using the
as a serial number or letter or month/day/year. document name + the date + the three-letter file
extension. For instance, Flower.jpg is renamed
Follow these steps to rename multiple files at once:
1. Select the files you want to rename.
Select a bunch of files from the same folder by
holding down Shift (to select consecutive files)
or Ctrl/Ô (to select non-consecutive files) and
clicking the files. Or you can choose Edit➪Select
All from the File Browser menu to select an entire
folder of images.
2. Choose Automate➪Batch Rename from the File
The Batch Rename dialog box opens, as shown in
• Figure 1-3: You select the filenaming variables you want
to use with the drop-down lists.
5. Select the Compatibility check boxes at the bot-
tom of the Batch Rename dialog box.
This ensures the files are named so that they
work on any computer, no matter what operating
system is running.
• Figure 1-2: You select the location of the renamed image
files and set how to modify the image file- 6. Click OK.
names in the Batch Rename dialog box.
Photoshop CS goes to work renaming all the
3. Select whether you want to keep the files in the
folder where they are currently located or
move them to a new folder. Creating a new folder
In the Destination Folder area, select the Rename Creating a new folder for your images with the File
in Same Folder or the Move to New Folder radio Browser is easy. Select the location for the new
button. Click Browse (Windows) or Choose folder with the Folders palette — this can be a hard
(Mac) to locate a folder for a different location. drive or another folder (if you select a folder, the
Get Organizing! 13
new folder appears as a subfolder within the
selected folder). Then, either right-click/option-click
on the selected folder and choose the New Folder
option from the context-sensitive menu or choose
File➪New Folder from the File Browser menu.
You should know, however, that you can’t
delete a folder with the File Browser. You have
to minimize Photoshop CS and go to the desk-
top level to do that. • Figure 1-4: Use the Show drop-down list to select
whether you want to view flagged or
unflagged files, or all files.
To rank images, follow these steps:
Photoshop CS gives you many options to organize
your image files — you can rank and flag them, sort 1. Select the image or images you want to rank in
images, and add and move images around the File the Preview pane.
Browser. If you want to select more than one image, you
can either Shift+click or Ctrl+click/Ô+click the
Flagging files files you want to select.
If you need to quickly sort through many images 2. Right-click/Ctrl+click the selected image and
(suppose you import 50 photos from a digital cam- choose the Rank option from the shortcut
menu or choose Edit➪Rank from the File
era), flagging images in the File Browser is a quick
Browser’s menu bar.
way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The Rank Files dialog box opens, as shown in
To flag an image, simply select the image you want Figure 1-5.
to flag in the Preview pane, and then click the Flag
icon at the top of the File Browser window. A small
flag icon appears at the bottom-right corner of the
image thumbnail in the Preview pane. You can view
either flagged or unflagged image files by selecting
either the Flagged Files or Unflagged Files option or
both from the Show drop-down list at the top right of
the File Browser window (see Figure 1-4). • Figure 1-5: Rank image files with the Rank Files
Another way to sort files is to rank them. Suppose
3. Enter numbers and/or letters in the Rank
you flag 20 photo files, and then just view those
flagged files, which I discuss in the preceding sec- When you sort the files, Photoshop sorts them
tion. You can also line the images up in a specific numerically and/or alphabetically, depending
order. This is where ranking comes in. Ranking lets upon what you enter in the Rank text box.
you control how to sort images in the File Browser.
You can rank one image at a time or give the same
rank to several selected images.
14 Technique 1: Organizing Image Files and Managing Projects
4. Click OK.
To view the image ranks, choose View➪
Show Rank from the File Browser menu.
To sort the images in the Preview pane by
rank, choose Sort➪Rank.
The File Browser comes with more than a dozen
ways you can sort image files. With the Sort menu,
you can sort by filename, by image dimensions, reso-
lution, file type, when you created the images, and
To sort a folder of images displayed in the Preview
pane, simply click the Sort menu at the top of the
File Browser window, and then choose from one of
the many options. The images sort and re-sort the
way you choose. • Figure 1-6: The Toggle Expanded View arrows hide the
palettes and enlarge the Preview pane.
Turning the File Browser into a lightbox Photoshop remembers the positions in which
When working with 35mm slides on a lightbox, I you sort the image files. Even if you close the
move the slides around, rearrange them in the order File Browser and shut down Photoshop, the
next time you view that folder of image files
that I need them in, and then place them in a plastic
using the File Browser, the files will still be in
slide page to keep them in that order. You can do the the same positions you left them in. How does
same thing with the File Browser. Photoshop do this? By creating a special cache
file that saves all the positioning information.
To sort images as you do with a lightbox, click the
Toggle Expanded View arrows at the bottom of the
File Browser, as shown in Figure 1-6. This hides the
palettes at the left side of the File Browser and Adding Notes and
expands the area of the Preview pane.
You can now just drag the image thumbnails around
on the virtual lightbox into the order you want to Another way to organize a project and help to
sort them. Note: When you drag an image file to a remember diddly items about an image that you’re
new position, the other files move over to make working on is to add virtual sticky notes to an image
room, automatically snapping into position. or even record a message.
Adding Notes and Vocal Annotations 15
To add a virtual sticky note to an image, follow these Follow these steps to add a vocal annotation to an
1. With the image open in Photoshop, select the 1. With an image open in Photoshop, select the
Notes tool from the Toolbox (or press N on the Audio Annotation tool from the Toolbox.
Remember: You need a microphone plugged into
2. Click in the image window. your computer’s sound card.
A note window appears, as shown in Figure 1-7. 2. Click anywhere in the image window.
3. Type your message, and then click the tiny Close The Audio Annoation dialog box, shown in Figure
box at the upper corner of the note window. 1-8, opens.
A small note icon remains in the image window. If
you want to open the note, just double-click it.
To delete the note, right-click/Ô+click on the
note icon and choose the Delete Note option
from the context-sensitive menu.
• Figure 1-8: Click Start to begin recording an audio
3. Click Start to begin recording your message.
4. When you’re finished recording, click Stop.
A tiny speaker icon appears in the image window.
If you want to hear the recorded message, just
double-click the icon. To delete the annotation,
right-click/Ô+click the speaker icon and choose
the Delete Audio Annotation option from the
The speaker icon is visible only in the image
window when the image is open in Photoshop
• Figure 1-7: Adding notes to remind you of something. CS. If you print the image, the icon does not
The small note icon is visible only in the image
window when the image is open in Photoshop
CS. If you print the image, the icon does not