156 Really Useful Windows Run Commands

I came across this list and thought I’d share it with my readers. Its a really useful list of RUN COMMANDS

To Access… Run Command
Accessibility Controls access.cpl
Accessibility Wizard accwiz
Add Hardware Wizard hdwwiz.cpl
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl
Administrative Tools control admintools
Adobe Acrobat (if installed) acrobat
Adobe Designer (if installed) formdesigner
Adobe Distiller (if installed) acrodist
Adobe ImageReady (if installed) imageready
Adobe Photoshop (if installed) photoshop
Automatic Updates wuaucpl.cpl
Bluetooth Transfer Wizard fsquirt
Calculator calc
Certificate Manager certmgr.msc
Character Map charmap
Check Disk Utility chkdsk
Clipboard Viewer clipbrd
Command Prompt cmd
Component Services dcomcnfg
Computer Management compmgmt.msc
Control Panel control
Date and Time Properties timedate.cpl
DDE Shares ddeshare
Device Manager devmgmt.msc
Direct X Control Panel (if installed)* directx.cpl
Direct X Troubleshooter dxdiag
Disk Cleanup Utility cleanmgr
Disk Defragment dfrg.msc
Disk Management diskmgmt.msc
Disk Partition Manager diskpart
Display Properties control desktop
Display Properties desk.cpl
Display Properties (w/Appearance Tab Preselected) control color
Dr. Watson System Troubleshooting Utility drwtsn32
Driver Verifier Utility verifier
Event Viewer eventvwr.msc
Files and Settings Transfer Tool migwiz
File Signature Verification Tool sigverif
Findfast findfast.cpl
Firefox (if installed) firefox
Folders Properties folders
Fonts control fonts
Fonts Folder fonts
Free Cell Card Game freecell
Game Controllers joy.cpl
Group Policy Editor (XP Prof) gpedit.msc
Hearts Card Game mshearts
Help and Support helpctr
HyperTerminal hypertrm
Iexpress Wizard iexpress
Indexing Service ciadv.msc
Internet Connection Wizard icwconn1
Internet Explorer iexplore
Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl
Internet Setup Wizard inetwiz
IP Configuration (Display Connection Configuration) ipconfig /all
IP Configuration (Display DNS Cache Contents) ipconfig /displaydns
IP Configuration (Delete DNS Cache Contents) ipconfig /flushdns
IP Configuration (Release All Connections) ipconfig /release
IP Configuration (Renew All Connections) ipconfig /renew
IP Configuration (Refreshes DHCP & Re-Registers DNS) ipconfig /registerdns
IP Configuration (Display DHCP Class ID) ipconfig /showclassid
IP Configuration (Modifies DHCP Class ID) ipconfig /setclassid
Java Control Panel (if installed) jpicpl32.cpl
Java Control Panel (if installed) javaws
Keyboard Properties control keyboard
Local Security Settings secpol.msc
Local Users and Groups lusrmgr.msc
Logs You Out Of Windows logoff
Malicious Software Removal Tool mrt
Microsoft Access (if installed) msaccess
Microsoft Chat winchat
Microsoft Excel (if installed) excel
Microsoft Frontpage (if installed) frontpg
Microsoft Movie Maker moviemk
Microsoft Paint mspaint
Microsoft Powerpoint (if installed) powerpnt
Microsoft Word (if installed) winword
Microsoft Syncronization Tool mobsync
Minesweeper Game winmine
Mouse Properties control mouse
Mouse Properties main.cpl
Nero (if installed) nero
Netmeeting conf
Network Connections control netconnections
Network Connections ncpa.cpl
Network Setup Wizard netsetup.cpl
Notepad notepad
Nview Desktop Manager (if installed) nvtuicpl.cpl
Object Packager packager
ODBC Data Source Administrator odbccp32.cpl
On Screen Keyboard osk
Opens AC3 Filter (if installed) ac3filter.cpl
Outlook Express msimn
Paint pbrush
Password Properties password.cpl
Performance Monitor perfmon.msc
Performance Monitor perfmon
Phone and Modem Options telephon.cpl
Phone Dialer dialer
Pinball Game pinball
Power Configuration powercfg.cpl
Printers and Faxes control printers
Printers Folder printers
Private Character Editor eudcedit
Quicktime (If Installed) QuickTime.cpl
Quicktime Player (if installed) quicktimeplayer
Real Player (if installed) realplay
Regional Settings intl.cpl
Registry Editor regedit
Registry Editor regedit32
Remote Access Phonebook rasphone
Remote Desktop mstsc
Removable Storage ntmsmgr.msc
Removable Storage Operator Requests ntmsoprq.msc
Resultant Set of Policy (XP Prof) rsop.msc
Scanners and Cameras sticpl.cpl
Scheduled Tasks control schedtasks
Security Center wscui.cpl
Services services.msc
Shared Folders fsmgmt.msc
Shuts Down Windows shutdown
Sounds and Audio mmsys.cpl
Spider Solitare Card Game spider
SQL Client Configuration cliconfg
System Configuration Editor sysedit
System Configuration Utility msconfig
System File Checker Utility (Scan Immediately) sfc /scannow
System File Checker Utility (Scan Once At The Next Boot) sfc /scanonce
System File Checker Utility (Scan On Every Boot) sfc /scanboot
System File Checker Utility (Return Scan Setting To Default) sfc /revert
System File Checker Utility (Purge File Cache) sfc /purgecache
System File Checker Utility (Sets Cache Size to size x) sfc /cachesize=x
System Information msinfo32
System Properties sysdm.cpl
Task Manager taskmgr
TCP Tester tcptest
Telnet Client telnet
Tweak UI (if installed) tweakui
User Account Management nusrmgr.cpl
Utility Manager utilman
Windows Address Book wab
Windows Address Book Import Utility wabmig
Windows Backup Utility (if installed) ntbackup
Windows Explorer explorer
Windows Firewall firewall.cpl
Windows Magnifier magnify
Windows Management Infrastructure wmimgmt.msc
Windows Media Player wmplayer
Windows Messenger msmsgs
Windows Picture Import Wizard (need camera connected) wiaacmgr
Windows System Security Tool syskey
Windows Update Launches wupdmgr
Windows Version (to show which version of windows) winver
Windows XP Tour Wizard tourstart
Wordpad write

Credit goes to MyPcHell

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[How To] Samsung Apps Error 4002 – After You Flashed A ROM – Obviously On Rooted Handsets

I recently upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S 2. I was a long time HTC fan but their recent move on bootloader locking made me jump ship. The Galaxy S 2 is an amazing device. Anyway, maybe I’ll write more on that again..

Of course, the first thing I did with my phone is root it. Which Samsung has made easy for the developers to create the tools needed.

The second thing I did was start flashing ROMs and I ran into one irritating problem. Once I flash the ROM the Samsung Apps threw an ERROR 4002 up. I had no idea what this meant. However, from some searches I found out that it needed a file called CSC in order to determine you region and DRM rights etc.

So, what I came up is this..

I restored the original ROM and used root ability to find the CSC files and copy them to the SD Card, then restored my new ROM and copied these in the ROM. Bang.. it all works as its supposed too..

WARNING: ROOT REQUIRED – Dont bother commenting below that “It needs root!.. this article is crap.. blah blah

Disclaimer: Any damaged caused to your phone is your problem… If you lack confidence, buy a nokia :P This may work on any Samsung

Step By Step

  • Buy/Download Root Explorer
  • Go to the ROOT of the file system.. keep pressing back or up.. till you see /
  • Scroll Down to SYSTEM
  • Inside here copy the CSC Folder and the two files that follow ending in CSC to your SD CARD
  • Flash your new ROM or Restore the New ROM from your Nandroid backup
  • Open Root Explorer
  • Navigate to are you saved you CSC files on the SD CARD
  • Copy them and navigate back to the root / and then to /system
  • Switch the system at the top so that it is in MOUNT R/W
  • Paste Files

All done

Let me know if you want my CSC files. I am in Ireland on o2 so that may make a difference, I have no idea…..

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Set Up A BOSS Key To Protect Yourself From Wandering Eyes(The Boss)

They come under many names, boss key, panic button or anti boss to name a few. Computer users can make use of these applications to quickly switch from their current desktop view to one that is hiding specific windows, applications or everything.

That’s helpful for instance while visiting websites during work that are not work related. A click of the button displays a Word document, Excel spreadsheet or another window that looks work related.

This article lists the majority of free boss key applications available, each with a short summary of what they are offering. Only free programs and extensions have been considered for this list.

Windows Software

Blind Bosskey Lite – professional application that makes use of “hide-lists”. The user can add windows, process and executables to the hide list, to hide all selected items with a hotkey or a click on the system tray icon.


BossKey – A 7K application which can create up to ten virtual desktops that are accessible via hotkeys.

clicky goneclicky gone

Clicky Gone – Open Source software that is offered as a portable version and an installer. Can hide all or selected applications, lots of hotkeys and settings. May take a bit longer to get used to.

Dad’s Around, a portable solution that can minimize all windows by pressing a hotkey, silence the audio, blacken the screen and even kill the foreground process.

dads arounddads around

Don’t Panic – Requires initial configuration, namely applications that should be hidden when the panic button is clicked on or activated via hotkey. Offers additional features like clearing recent files and the Internet history.

Hide My Browser Free – has been specifically designed to hide web browser windows.

hide browsers listhide browsers list

Magic Boss Key

magic boss keymagic boss key

Has lots of options. Windows can be hidden by pressing the left and right mouse buttons at the same time, or by pressing F12. The application mutes the sound when the windows are hidden, and can furthermore hide all desktop icons and the taskbar if configured to do so.

Plancoin hides windows based on keywords, option to configure an exclude or include listing. Supports hotkeys.

VicMan Boss Key, commercial application that is now offered as freeware. Can hide the active window with a hotkey.

Window Hide Tool

windows hide toolwindows hide tool

A sophisticated tool that can be configured extensively. It is for instance possible to group applications and set hotkeys for those groups, define system wide hotkeys or password protect the program so that it cannot be accessed without supplying the password first.

WinHide.SB – Can be used to hide specific windows from appearing in the taskbar and on the desktop. Supports hotkeys and controls via the system tray.

Web Browser

Boss Key and Buttons [Firefox] – Press F12 to minimize browser windows, or both mouse buttons for the same effect. Also available for Google Chrome

Minimize Chrome to tray.

minimize chromeminimize chrome

Simple Boss Key [Firefox] – Maps the F12 key to minimize the browser. Suggests to open a harmless site in the first tab, as this is shown in the taskbar. May interfere with other add-ons that have mapped the F12 key (like Firebug)

Panic Button [Firefox] – Adds a Panic Button to Firefox that can hide all windows, minimize all windows or quit the browser. Maps F9 to the panic button so that a press of the button will invoke it as well.

Panic Button [Userscript], works in both Firefox and Google Chrome. Displays a Panic button on every page, which when clicked on changes the site to a harmless one.

Work Folder – Not a boss key application per se. It is a gaming site that looks like a folder on the local hard drive.


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Automate Mouse Control With GhostMouse

Ghost MouseHave you ever wanted to automate some of your regularly used mouse and keyboard actions? If yes, you can try out GhostMouse, a freeware tool to record and play mouse and keyboardactions. GhostMouse Win7 is a tiny program that lets you record and playback a series of keyboard and mouse actions, and saves operation records as script files for later use. You can record actions and then play them whenever you want to repeat a set of actions you have performed.


Record OptionsThe interface is dead simple, click on the red button to start recording and when you want to play click on the play button. While recording, you can set what all actions need to be captured by the tool.


PlaybackFor playback, you can set the speed and also repeat it using the settings.



  • Compact and easy to use
  • Windows automation software
  • Record all mouse and keyboard events
  • Convenient settings interface
  • Using recorded files anytime, anywhere

The app is perfectly compatible with VistaWindows 7, and 64-bit systems.

Download GhostMouse


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WizMouse Enables Mouse Over Scrolling on Any Window

WizMouse is a free and lightweight Windows application that enables a simple but effective trick: the ability to scroll the contents of a window that is under your mouse cursor without shifting the focus to that window.

It may not seem like much, at first glance, but the ability to scroll a window without having to click on it and shift the focus of your current window is a huge time saver. Once WizMouse is installed simply mousing over any open window and engage your scroll wheel for instant scroll with no additional click or shift in focus necessary. You’ll get so used to it you’ll forget that it wasn’t built into Windows from the start.

Hit up the link below to grab a copy of WizMouse, a free and Windows only application.

WizMouse [Antibody Software]

via HowToGeek

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First Steps To Troubleshoot Software Errors

Windows Task Manager

Image via Wikipedia

Computer software—be it your operating system, your word processor, or your favorite game—is prone to different types of problems, such as unwarranted crashes and confusing error messages. These error messages unnecessarily hamper your work and cause frustrations. Most of the time, when a software error occurs we panic and are tempted to seek the help of external technical support. But, this method is not only time-consuming, but can also be quite expensive.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that you can perform to resolve (or at least narrow down the causes of) software errors yourself. Some of these steps are listed below. So, the next time you encounter a software error, you may use these steps to troubleshoot your problem.

  1. Close all open programs to free up RAM

    All programs running on your computer need to access Random Access Memory (RAM) to perform various functions. Now, as RAM is expensive, we have a limited amount of it on the system. So, if you are running a large number of software on your computer, your system may slow down and generate errors. If this happens, close all open programs to free up RAM space and then launch the application you want to work with.

    At times, there might be a problem with a software that might cause it to eat up a lot of memory. To identify this software, open Task Manager, and then on the Processes tab, check the Memory Usage column for the application that is consuming the maximum memory. You can ‘End Task’ this application and then repair it—usually by updating or reinstalling it—to resolve the issue.

    Many times, errors such as error code 1311 may generate during a program installation when you are trying to install a new software on your computer. Your antivirus software may be causing this problem. So, if this happens, you must turn off your antivirus software and then continue with the installation.

  1. Restart your program

    In case you face problems even after closing all running applications, then you must close and restart your program. If your program is in conflict with some other running application then, restarting the program quite often resolves these issues.

    For instance, ActiveX problems may occur if there is a problem with your Internet Explorer. If this happens, you must try to restart the Web browser and then try to open your Website again. Here, you must also ensure that you allow the particular ActiveX control to run.

  1. Reboot your PC

    If you are unable to resolve the error by restarting your program, try to reboot your computer and then relaunch your application. Many program conflicts are conditional and are resolved when you restart the system.

  1. Uninstall any newly installed programs or hardware

    If you start encountering software errors soon after installing a new hardware or software, then this new hardware/software might be causing some conflict. If this happens, remove this new product then relaunch your application to see if it works.

  1. Uninstall and reinstall your application

    Software errors may occur if there is some problem with the program files of your system. If this happens, you may try to uninstall the application and then reinstall it to repair the damaged files. You must uninstall the application using Add or Remove Programs or a third-party program uninstaller utility. If the application you are trying to remove is very large, you may check for and download its removal tool from the manufacturer’s website. For instance, to remove a Norton product you may download and use Norton uninstaller to completely cleanup all files related to the product you are trying to remove.

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Learning Photoshop, Part 6: Digital Art


For artistic readers, Photoshop offers digital painting options few other painting or photomanipulation programs can equal. Whether you want to draw for a living, or simply want to paint for fun, learning the painterly side of Photoshop is very rewarding.

Getting Started With the Brush Tool


The Brush tool, shortcut key b, is the Holy Grail of Photoshop tools. It is likely the most complex of all the tools in the program, at least in regard to its useage. There are a host of options on the Brush panel, all of which new digital artists should make effort to familiarize themselves with. If you cannot find the Brush Panel, go to Window > Brush to open the panel.


CS5 has yet more options for the Brush tool at the top of the screen, in the options panel. Here you can adjust your opacity and other options—however we’ll return to this in a moment to better illustrate how they work.


You’ll find that right clicking in your workspace opens yet ANOTHER options panel for the Brush tool. For our demonstration purposes, we’ll avoid using the arcane looking brush panel in the first screenshot, and mostly use the options panel and the right-click contextual menu from the last two screenshots. Again, readers are advised to experiment with the complex Brush Panel on their own, and check back for more thorough guides on the brush tool at a later date.

Do I Need a Graphics Tablet?


While they are not absolutely needed for any sort of digital painting, USB Graphics Tablets enhance your Photoshop experience greatly. They are not cheap, although there are some alternate brands or introductory products that cost $100—$200, while the most expensive ones run as high as $2,000.


Many of Photoshop’s best brush features are not usable without a pressure sensitive tablet. The benefit is not simply being able to draw with the pen-like stylus, but being able to draw with pressure sensitivity a mouse does not allow.


WACOM is the most common name in Graphics tablets, but is not the only company that creates them. The tablet illustrated above is the Waltop Venus, from the Taiwanese company Waltop.

Buy (or don’t buy) a tablet according to your needs. If you think you will get a lot of use out of it, then a $100 to $300 investment may be worthwhile to you. There are surprisingly excellent options available, even at the lower costs. In the end, you will know if you will get enough use out of it to justify it; simply don’t be afraid to buy the entry level unit if the more expensive ones are too much of an investment.

Learning the Brush Tool


ctrl shift N to create a blank new file. Walk through this experiment to get a better understanding of the brush tools available to you.


This is a decent setting for your experimental brushwork. Right-click to bring up the contextual brush menu and select the first standard brush, “Soft Round.” You can adjust your size here with the top slider, if desired.


A black color stroke with this setting should look like this.


Look to your options panel and set your “Opacity” down to 50%, as shown above.


The same clicking and mouse dragging will now produce this color stroke, as it is painting a more translucent, see-through black with this opacity setting.


Right-click to bring up your brush contextual menu again, and this time pick the second option, “Hard Round.”


Keep your same opacity setting as before.


Notice the smooth line you’ve drawn. “Hardness,” which scales from 0% to 100% affects the “fuzziness” or blurriness of the lines you draw.


Similar to Opacity, is the setting for “Flow.” Return your opacity to 100% and set your “Flow” to 50%.


You can see immediately the line drawn is different.


Zooming in shows us how this same brush is drawn differently, in this repeating pattern. This is the major difference between the Opacity and Flow, and something that confuses even professional Photoshop painters.


“Airbrush Mode” is another fairly confusing option. Nearly every version of CS Photoshop will have this airbrush icon in the options panel. Click it on and we’ll learn the difference.


This is the correct brush setting to use for this demonstration. You’ll need a “soft” brush with a wide tip at whatever size you care to use.


Click in your image and hold your mouse button down. You’ll notice that with “Airbrush mode” on, your dark pigment will continue to paint as long as your mouse is held down. It will also spill out from inside your cursor area.


With airbrush mode off, however, you’ll find clicking and holding the mouse button only gives you a single blot of pigment, not the continuous stream that the Airbrush mode gives. It can be helpful to know the difference, and to experiment with what works better for you.

Drawing with Pressure Sensitivity


Continuing to use the same brush, we break out the graphics tablet and select this far right option on the top panel, “Tablet pressure controls size.”


A brush stroke with increasing pressure creates this mark that starts small and grows. It is uniformly dark through out.


There is another option, “Tablet pressure controls opacity,” which will change opacity with less pressure, allowing for lighter tones for lighter pressure.


This looks like so, with the grayer tones on the left, and the heavier, harder pressure tones on the right.


Below the first row of “basic” brushes are sets that use pressure sensitivity in more interesting ways.


Some of them are strange and unusual, and react to your paintbrush strokes in weird ways. This one reacted to the tilt of the stylus in relation to the tablet.


Others can create nice, naturalistic marks. You can see the opacity setting layering nicely in these brush marks.


In addition to pressure sensitivity, some brushes can be set to follow the direction of the brush stroke.


Others come set standard with the “Scatter” options. A single brush stroke created all of this effortlessly.


Similar to the stars, this leaf pattern scatters, rotates, and even creates leaves of different opacities based on pressure sensitivity.

Digital Inking and Painting with Photoshop


Rather than scanning, it can be quicker to take digital photographs of drawings for digital inking. Here’s a quick look at how to use these brush techniques to create a quick image.


You should work at good print resolutions whenever possible. Once you have your final sketch image, you can go to Image > Image Size to adjust the dimensions.


300 pixels per inch is a fairly standard print resolution. Enlarging this image to 10 inches in width will create a 3,000 pixel wide image, resulting in something over 12 megapixels. Work at whatever size suits you.


Create a solid color adjustment layer on top of your photograph. Any color will do, although light ones work the best.


Selecting a light pink color, change your “Blending Mode,” highlighted blue above, to “Screen.”


Your image is now toned down and ready to be digitally inked.


Create a new layer on top to draw your ink lines in. Select the Brush tool or the Pencil tool to ink your image.


Pressure sensitivity makes inking quick and easy.


A single brush size easily draws all the various line thicknesses.


To add color to the image, it can be helpful to create new layer with  ctrl shift N, then creating a new group for it. Be sure to create it underneath your digital ink layer.


The bucket fill combined with the brush tool quickly fill areas of the image with colors or solid blacks.


If you use the bucket fill with multiple layers, you’ll want to check “All Layers” on the right side of the options.


Add new layers for each new color or work in a single layer, depending on your preference.


Sloppy painting while working in layers is easy to work around.


Moving sloppy painting below other, tighter layers can quickly clean them up and save you the effort of being neat.


With flat tones complete, we can move along to painting in shading and a value range to the image.


Reducing the flow and setting the pressure setting to “Opacity,” we can brush on some colors onto each of our layers.


While similar painting can be done with a mouse, the time savings of quick, pressure sensitive brush movements are immense. The entirety of this painting and inking was done in shortly over 20 minutes.


At this point, simply work as you see fit, adding shadows, then highlights.


Some quick brushwork can make the foreground and background feel more complete together.


While she’s hardly perfect, this quick study is a fair showcase of the kind of painting Photoshop is capable of—except this is hardly the extent of what can be done. Experiment with the brush tool for yourself, and find what works best for you.

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Learning Photoshop, Part 5: Beginner Photo Editing


Photoshop is named “Photoshop” for a reason; it’s for editing photographs.  Take a look through some basic photo-editing techniques and learn how you can improve your own family photographs.

Cropping Images for Better Composition


Oftentimes, when you take a digital photograph, you’ll end up with a lot of information that you may not want. One of the first things you’re going to want to do is learn how to crop your images, and the most convenient way to do this is using the Crop Tool.


Press the c key to select your crop tool. Use your mouse to click and drag, creating a box inside your photograph.


You’ll notice a tick-box in the corners of your crop-box. You can move and resize your crop area to select the precise area you wish to crop.


You can press the enter key to release your crop. You can undo with ctrl z and redo your crop at any time, if you feel so inclined. Cropping can eliminate areas of your image that you don’t want to see, or can also create a more interesting composition for prints or the web.

Adjusting Contrast with the Levels Tool


Shooting images on overcast days can give you gloomy images that are either too dark or devoid of detail. While the Brightness and Contrast tool is an acceptable way to adjust your images, the best tool to use is usually the Levels tool.


With your photograph open, simply press ctrl L to open your levels dialog box. By default, this is what it looks like.


The three sliders (the sshot-791 arrows illustrated above) represent Shadows (your photograph’s darkest areas), Mid-tones (the middle darkest areas), and Highlights (the brightest areas of your photo). By adjusting them as illustrated above, brighter whites are created, mildly darker shadows, and the Mid-Tone point is moved closer to the shadows, allowing for more space between the Mid-Tones and the Highlights.


Clicking OK will close the Levels and render them. Immediately, we see more detail in the bird, and our sky is less overcast and gloomy. With little effort at all, you can give your photographs a more naturalistic look and bring out detail you might not have known that you even had!

Adjusting Color-Shifted Lighting


One of the biggest problems with taking pictures indoors is that a lot of indoor lighting will be tinted with a yellow, red, or blue cast. Your eyes may not pick up the difference, but your camera “sees” light very differently than our eyes do. Here’s a simple way to remove reduce the color of an overwhelmingly yellow image.


You’ll want to navigate to Image > Adjustments > Selective Color.


Selective Color is a tool that allows you to adjust your image through various primary colors. These are: Red, Green and Blue, the primary colors of light; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the primary colors of printing; and also by Whites and Neutrals.


Since our image has a yellow cast to it, I select “Yellows” from the “Color” menu box. You can use the adjustments illustrated above, or find the ones that work for your image. The basic premise is to reduce the color(s) you wish to remove (in this case, Yellow) and, in some cases, add color to the opposing primary colors (in this case, Cyan, Magenta, and Black.) That’s basically a complicated way of saying “less yellow, more red, blue, and black.”


Compared to the original image, the lighting on this now appears as clear and white as natural sunlight and the original looks aged and yellowed. If you notice this yellow cast on your images and want to remove it, this can often be your best bet.

Sharpen Blurry Photographs without Damaging Color


Sometimes dim indoor lighting can give a warm and fuzzy effect to your photography. Unfortunately, the “fuzzy” bit is a problem, as dim indoor lighting tends to make images come out blurry. There are many Photoshop filters that can sharpen an image, but many can damage color or heavily distort an image. This surprisingly easy trick can help sharpen shots and keep color intact.


Lab color is an alternate color space, like RGB and CMYK. It is unusual and most digital art files outside of the professional photography world will not use it.

In order to switch your photograph to Lab color, to go Image > Mode > Lab Color, as illustrated above.


Changing images to CMYK will give you a color shift—not so with Lab color. Your RGB image remains identical without any sort of color shift. On to the next step.


Flip to your Channels Panel. If you cannot find it, you can always retrieve it by going to your menu Window > Channels.


Pick the “Lightness” channel, which will look like a grayscale version of your image.


If your image doesn’t change to grayscale, try again. We need to work exclusively in this grayscale channel for this tip to work.


Navigate to Filters > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Unsharp Mask can increase contrast and tighten edges Photoshop perceives in images. The illustrated values are overdoing it somewhat—find values that work well with your own image.


Still in our Lightness channel, enter renders our filter. Oftentimes the Unsharp Mask filter can create to many harsh darks, so for this particular soft image, a round of Level adjustment can help counter the harshness of the filter.


ctrl L brings up the levels tool. Adjusting the Midtones and Highlights (as in the example earlier) can create a softer look without sacrificing the faux-sharpness added to the image.


Our final result is a fair improvement over the soft-edged original. You can return your image to RGB color by navigating to Image > Mode > RGB and save it as a PSD or JPG file. It’s also a good habit to save multiple versions of your Photographs in order to return to the original, effectively undoing your edits if needed.

Photoshop tips left you confused? Start at the Beginning! Check out the previous installments of the How-To Geek Guide to Learning Photoshop.


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Learning Photoshop, Part 4: The Menus Basics


Photoshop has a huge menu system with options even advanced users may ignore. For today’s lesson we’ll take a quick tour through them and learn which of them will help you increase your mastery of photo editing.

The Top Menu


Your menus are laid out as illustrated above. Let’s take a quick look through these and explain the less obvious menu items.

The File Menu

While this is home to obvious things like “Open” and “Close,” there are less obvious items here to look over. Here are some highlights.


Browse in Bridge: Bridge is a program that comes bundled with Photoshop for visual browsing. It allows users to look through their library of pictures rather than looking at empty filenames, similar to Google Picasa. Bridge is a decent program, but it can be annoying to accidentally open it, as it takes longer than you might want to load.

Browse in Mini Bridge: Mini Bridge is a version of Bridge that lives in Photoshop. Easy to use, but loads slowly. Part 2, Panels touched briefly on Mini Bridge.


Open As: A problematic menu item, Open As seems broken and glitchy. The idea is to be able to open one filetype as another, i.e., to open a layered PSD file as a flattened JPG. Any readers that care to comment on this, let me know of your successes or failures. I think it is broken in CS5 as of yet.

Open as Smart Object: Create a smart object from any file simply by opening it. Smart Objects resize and warp from the original file, so if you plan to resize a JPG or other image multiple times, you may want to open it as a smart object. You may want to learn a bit about Smart Objects first, however.

Share my Screen and Create New Review: Adobe CS Live features only available to Photoshop users that choose to register their copy of Photoshop and create an account on


Device Central: Launches a separate program for developing applications for mobile smartphones and other similar devices. Not terribly useful for beginner users.


Save for Web and Devices: A wizard-type program launches that helps you compress your files into web-ready JPG, GIF, PNG, or WBMP file formats. In this case, “Devices” refers to the same mobile smartphones, etc, that “Device Central” refers to.

Revert: Reloads your file from the point it was last saved. You’ll lose all changes and your history. However, this is still often useful.

Place: Insert a separate file into the one currently open. Allows you to resize temporarily as a smart object.

Automate and Scripts: Helpful options for advanced users that have to do lots of repetitive graphic work. Scripts, in particular are quite exciting, and are worth a look, even for basic users. They are both deserve articles of their own, on another day.

The Edit Menu

Another fairly obvious menu, the Edit menu is home to some of PS’s most useful features.


Undo, Step Forward, Step Backward: Undo is a single level of revert you are likely familiar with. ctrl z is a common shortcut, and you’ll find it will undo your last action as well as redo it. Step Forward and Backward move through your history palette, also covered in Part 2, Panels. This is an another simple way to use the history besides the History Panel.

Cut, Copy, and Copy Merged: You are likely also familiar with Cut, Copy, and Paste, which exist in the edit menu of nearly every program going back to MS Word for DOS. “Copy Merged” is extremely helpful, in that it can copy a multi-layer document as if it those layers were merged.

Fill: Often ignored, Fill is an excellent tool. “Fill” will fill a selection, layer, or channel with your foreground or background color, black, white, or texture, regardless of its content, unlike the bucket or flood fill. CS5 also has Content aware fill, which, given the right file, can attempt to recreate part of your image covered by foreground objects.


Stroke: Creates a linear stroke (read: a line) around your selection with whatever color you care to use. You can adjust line thickness or where in or around your selection you want to draw it. Like fill, it ignores existing content and simply strokes around your selection.


Content Aware Scale: Uses the same technology in “Content Aware Fill” to scale part of an image. Photoshop will make it’s best guess how you want your image to look when you resize with this.

Puppet Warp: New CS5 feature is a very complicated warp that allows users to distort images in complex ways.


Transform and Free Transform: Very useful tools for resizing an image, correcting and creating perspective, and distorting images.

Keyboard shortcuts: A menu for editing and assigning a custom keyboard shortcut for every menu item in Photoshop. Absolutely invaluable for any user.

Menus: Allows users to edit existing menus, hiding features they hate or never use, and highlighting the ones they have trouble seeing, but use frequently. Also incredibly helpful.


Preferences: Many of the quirky problems you have with Photoshop have their controllable settings here. More on the preferences menu and making PS behave better in a later article.

The Image Menu

The image menu allows you to change your color depth and do various other things. What are the most useful options here?


Mode: The color mode is where you set your image to RGB or CMYK, as well as various other types like Lab color or Indexed color, an 8-bit color table based file format. You should never use anything but RGB, unless you care to learn more about image formats and digital imaging.

Adjustments: A sub-menu with areas to adjust Brightness and Contrast, Levels, Curves, as well as Hue/Saturation. There are a host of other options here, all worth exploring. Here are a few of the most important:

sshot-754 Brightness/Contrast: A basic way to adjust lights, darks, and contrast in photographs. Good for beginners and easy to understand.

: A more sophisticated way to adjust your value range in photos.

: An even more complex way to adjust values and channels, allowing users to adjust targeted values with greater accuracy. For experts.

: Yet another menu for adjusting lights, darks and contrast, this one largely for digital photographers.

Hue/Saturation: Adjust the colors of your image, as well as how bright and vibrant they are.

Invert: Black is white, white is black. All of your colors are now their opposite value.

Posterize: A filter that reduces your image to a limited number of colors.

Threshold: Another filter that reduces your image to black and white, completely without gray.

Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, Auto Color: Photoshop will attempt to improve your image automatically by adjusting Tones, Contrast or Color. They are likely inspired by Photoshop Elements (and similar basic photo editors); good tools for beginners.

Image Size: Not to be confused with Canvas Size, Image size will enlarge or shrink your entire image file.


Canvas Size: Will increase the size of the file’s “space” without changing any of your image information.


Image Rotation: Turn your image at 90° or 180° angles, or on “Arbitrary” ones like 21° or -5°.

Duplicate: Create a second open file identical to your file’s current state. Your new file does not retain its history.

The Layer Menu

The homebase for editing your layers, the Layer menu has lots of sub-menus and complex options. Beginner users may wish to look over Part 3 of the How-To Geek Guide to Learning Photoshop, and get a basic primer on using Layers.


New: The sub menu here allows creation of new layers, as well as options for turning your existing layers into your “Background” layer, if you need or want one. You can also “group” layers—similar to putting files in a folder in your OS. This option creates the “folder” for layers to be stored in.

Duplicate Layer: Allows users to make a copy of an existing layer, either in the current document, to a new one, or to another open file.

New Fill Layer/New Adjustment Layer: Two alternate types of layers that are dynamic, and can be edited with numerical values over and over again. See Part 3 of the How-To Geek Guide to Learning Photoshop to learn more about Adjustment layers.

Layer Mask/Vector Mask: Tools for “masking” or hiding part or all of active layers. Do you know the difference between Vectors and Pixels? They are the basic difference between these two types of masks.

Clipping Masks: This “clips” a layer or layers to the layer transparency below it. Difficult to understand without experimentation. Expect later articles on Clipping Masks, Layer Masks, and Vector Masks here at How-To Geek.

Group Layers/Hide Layers: Multiple layers can be selected in the layers panel, and grouped or hidden here. This instance of “Group” bundles selected layers, rather than creating an empty group.\


Align/Distribute: Tools for arranging layers within your working space, i.e., centering an layer to your entire image, or spacing seven buttonlike objects out evenly on a page.

Merge Down: Combine the current layer or group with the layer below it.

Merge Visible/Flatten Image: Combine all layers in your document. “Merge Visible” will ignore all layers hidden in your Layers Panel, while “Flatten Image” will throw them away entirely. Merge Visible will also leave any transparency you have, while Flatten Image will create a non-transparent “Background Layer” out of all your layered information. See the illustration below for an example.


Above: Original file with Layers Panel, showing the existing layers.


Above: File after “Merge Visible.” Note the the layer transparency.


Above: File after “Flatten Image.” Note the white background added where the image was transparent.

Other Important Menus

The remainder of the menus in Photoshop are nowhere near as complex as these first ones.


The Select Menu: Menus that work with the Marquee, Lasso, and Wand tools, as well as the layers panel. Select All, Deselect, and Reselect work directly with these. When you have an active selection, Invert will select the part of your image you do not currently have selected. You can also select layers in your layers panel here, as well as adjust your selections with the “Modify” sub-menu. You can also enter the “Quick Mask” mode here, described briefly in Part 1 of the How-To Geek Guide to Learning Photoshop.


The Filters Menu: The toybox for Photoshop users, Filters allow for all kinds of strange and wonderful distortions of images. Some are useful, many are not. Filters are a big topic, and will require at least an entire article to themselves. Until then, experiment with filters to find some that you enjoy.


The View Menu: The View menu is home to a lot of the more unusual parts of Photoshop, like the ability to change the size and shape of your pixels, as well as basic things like “Zoom In.” Here, you can preview your Print Size (roughly) or quickly zoom to 100% zoom with “Actual Pixels.” You can also turn off annoying things like Snap, Rulers (if you dislike them) as well as clearing your Guides or Slices.


The Window Menu: This is where nearly all of your panels disappear to when they are deleted, including the options panel at the top of your screen and your toolbox, by default on your left.  You can also cycle through your open images at the bottom of the Window menu.


The Help Menu: Last but not least, the Help menu is the basic informational menu every good application should have. Check through it to learn about the tools that elude you, or simply come back to How-To Geek for the next installment of the Guide to Learning Photoshop!


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Learning Photoshop, Part 3: Layers


As one of the hallmark features of Photoshop, Layers are the foundation of learning good photo editing techniques. In this article, we’ll go through their basic usage, as well as cover some basic types of layers.


Your layer panel is one of the most important within Photoshop. Whenever you use Photoshop, you’ll work spend a lot of time working in it.


The lasso tool creates a selection in any shape: in this case, the word “Layer” is drawn in. But the lasso does not create a new layer, even though we can use the lasso tool to move our selection around.


New layers can be created by clicking the new layer button in the Layers panel. You can also press ctrl shift N for a blank layer.

You can think of these layers as entirely new image files stacked on top of each other in your layers panel. By default, a new layer is transparent.


A simple Edit > Fill fills our selection with black. We’ve put it in a new layer, which will help us understand what a new layer is.


Our black fill exists in a new layer. We no longer need our selection, so pressing ctrl ddeselects it.


While this may look like a ruined image of the Apollo 11 rocket taking off, the drawn “Layer” text exists in its own separate layer, and is editable.


The Move Tool, shortcut key v , illustrated above, is used for moving the layers selected in your layers panel.


The image of the shuttle still exists beneath the new filled layer. It can be moved to any position without destroying any part of the layer below it.


Individual layers can be moved, rotated, and transformed at your whim.


And again, since layers exist independent of each other, they do not have to affect each other.


Returning to a few older How-Tos, we can very simply add objects that have had their backgrounds removed to our image.


Simply use the Move Tool (shortcut v key) to drag images from any open file to the one you’re working with. Photoshop will create a new layer in your target file with the dragged layer information in it.


This image has quickly become ridiculous. Clicking the hide layer in the side of the layers panel will hide any layer you don’t care to see.


Shortcut key t will give you the Type tool, which can create a different type of layer. Live type is editable, and can be changed at any time without disturbing other layers.


Layers also have “Blending Options,” as illustrated in the contextual menu here. Right click on any of the layers in your layers panel to open this menu.


Blending Options takes us to the Layer Style dialog box. Here, we can add shadows and glows, all editable at any time through this same menu.


After adding a stroke to the text layer, other effects can also be added. A soft, white glow can make the text more legible against the complicated background.


Even with these layer effects, these layers are still editable.


The text can easily be set in a different font, with all layer effects staying active.


The layer effects look something like this in your layers panel.


In your layers panel, you can click the adjustment layer to create a different type of layer, called an Adjustment Layer.


CS5 brings up this “Adjustments” panel. I create a “Photo Filter” adjustment layer to give my image a sepia tone effect.


Adjustment layers also have a position in your layers panel and only affect the layers below. In other words, you can move your adjustment layers to affect the layers below it. I have my text above my Sepia Adjustment Layer, keeping it from turning sepia toned.


There are many options for Adjustment Layers, including the “Gradient” adjustment layer.


Gradients are great as adjustment layers, as they can easily be re-edited and adjusted. You’ll have numerous options for types of gradients, colors, angles, etc.


Adjustment layers can be hidden or edited by double clicking them in the layers panel.


Simple mastery of layers and the layers panel will greatly increase your ability to use Photoshop and get the effects you want to see in your photography.

Via MakeUseOf

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