Edit General Preferences in Photoshop Elements - Part 2

This is the second and final part of how to edit General Preferences in Photoshop Elements.

If you missed Part One click Here to see it.

In Part One we went through the first half of the Preferences and in this tutorial we'll look at the rest of the Preferences.

Click on the video below to see exactly how they work.

Under the video is an explanation of each Preference beginning where we left off in Part One.

How to get to Photoshop Elements
General Preferences

To get to the General Preferences dialog box press Command+K on a Mac or Control+K on a PC.

The General Preferences dialog window will appear:

The General Preferences Dialog Window in Photoshop Elements 15.

Let's start where we left off in Part One which is the Preference labeled Use Shift Key for Tool Switch.


This Preference is located at the top of the second column in the Options section.

It's off (no check mark in its box) by default. In other words when it's turned off you don't need to use the Shift key for tool switch.

Let's use the Lasso tool as an example. There are actually three different kinds of Lasso tools. There's the regular Lasso tool, the Magnetic Lasso tool, and the Polygonal Lasso tool.

All three Lasso tools share the same space in the Toolbox. You can see them all down in the Tool Options. You can make any of them active by clicking on them down there in the Tool Options.

The three different Lasso tools shown in the Tool Options panel.

But there's also a keyboard shortcut to make any of the three active. It's the letter "L".

For example if the Move tool is currently the active tool in the Toolbox I could press the letter L and one of the three Lasso tools will become the active tool instead of the Move tool. For simplicity lets say the regular Lasso tool becomes active.

Then if I press L again the Magnetic Lasso tool becomes active. And if I press L again the Polygonal Lasso tool becomes active.

Each time you press L it will continue cycling through the three Lasso tools.

Now let's go back to the General Preferences dialog box by pressing Command+K on a Mac or Control+K on a PC. And let's click on Use Shift Key for Tool Switch to but a check in its box and turn it on.

And click OK to close the Preference box and accept the change.

The Preference Use Shift Key for Tool Switch is turned on as indicated by the check mark in its box.

Now if you press "L" on the keyboard the active tool will not change. To make it change and/or to cycle through the Lasso tools you need to hold down the Shift key as you press L.


The next Option is called Zoom with Scroll Wheel.

The name of this Option really describes what it does.

If you make it active by putting a check mark in its box scroll wheel, the scroll wheel or scroll function on your mouse will zoom instead of scroll when you're in Photoshop Elements.

Leave it unchecked and your scroll wheel will scroll as normal.


The next Option is called Enable Soft Notifications.

Soft Notifications are messages that temporarily appear when performing certain operations.

One action that causes a soft notification to appear is when you undo or redo an operation.

A Soft Notification telling me what operation I just undid.

When you choose Undo or Redo and this Preference is checked a notification will appear for a couple of seconds and then disappear.

It will say either Undo... or Redo... and then whatever the action was. In the example above I had dragged another photo from the Photo Bin onto the currently active photo.

Then I pressed Undo to remove it. When I did that the Soft Notification appeared to tell me what I was undoing.

If you don't want those notifications to appear click on the Enable Soft Notifications box in the General Preferences to uncheck the box.


The next Option is called Enable Crop Pre-Selection.

When you have this enabled and you make the Crop tool active Photoshop Elements will overlay a suggested crop on your image.

It actually has four different crop suggestions that you can see down in the Tool Options.

You can hover your mouse over each crop pre-selection to see it in the active image area.

You can hover your cursor over each of the four thumbnails in the Tool Options to see in the Active Image Area what that crop would look like.

Now we've gone through all of the Preferences in the Options section and we just have the last three buttons located at the bottom of the window.


The next Preference is called Reset Preferences on next launch.

If you ever want to set the Preferences back to the default settings that Photoshop Elements had when you first got it you can click this button. Then the next time you launch PSE it will have those default settings.

The General Preferences dialog box set to its default settings.

Just be aware that if you decide to do this, any tweaks you have made to other areas of PSE will also go back to their default settings. For example if you've customized any of the Selection tools in the Tool Options to have a specific Feather amount whenever you use it, those would be reset to zero.

The main reason that I use this Preference is because it fixes a lot of different problems in PS Elements.

If something in Photoshop Elements doesn't work the way that you know it's supposed to or just doesn't make any sense, clicking this button will often fix the problem.

For example if you click on a yellow color with the Color Picker tool (previously named the Eyedropper tool) and instead of the yellow that you clicked on it turns the Foreground Color purple.

But don't forget that the fix won't occur until after quitting out of Photoshop Elements and then restarting the program again.


The next Option is called Reset All Warning Dialogs.

Let's start by identifying what a "Warning Dialog" is.

As it relates to this Preference button it's a dialog box that automatically appears when you give Photoshop Elements certain commands.

For example if you make a Layer active by clicking on it in the Layers panel and then click on the trash icon in the Layers panel to delete that active Layer you'll see the following dialog box:

It gives you a chance to change your mind before carrying out the command.

But what makes it a "Warning Dialog" is that box that is labeled "Don't show again".

You can click on that box to put a check mark in it before clicking on Yes or No. Then the next time you click on the trash icon in the Layers panel to delete the active Layer you won't get the warning dialog again. It will just go ahead and delete the Layer.

That's what a Warning Dialog is and how it works.

Let's go back to our  in the General Preferences dialog box. When you click on that button labeled "Reset All Warning Dialogs" it's like "unchecking any "Don't show again" boxes you have previously checked so that the Warning Dialog will begin to appear again when you execute those commands.


The final Option in the General Preferences dialog box is called Reset Auto Smart Tone Learning.

This Option is related to the Auto Smart Tone feature that you get to by going up to the Enhance menu and choosing Auto Smart Tone....

The rather large Auto Smart Tone dialog box will appear. As its name implies it automatically makes a tonal adjustment to your photo.

You can tweak the adjustment further if you want by clicking-and-dragging the joystick located over your image in the dialog box.

Notice there's a tiny icon that looks like four horizontal lines with an arrow next to it.

It's an Options menu and if you click on it you'll see that there are two different options. Both options are checked by default.

The top one is called "Learn from this correction".

With that Option checked, Photoshop Elements will learn what tweaks you made with the joystick for this image. Next time you use Auto Smart Tone it will base the automatic tonal correction on what kind of tweak you made the last time you used it.

So going back to our General Preferences, if you click on the button labeled "Reset Auto Smart Tone Learning" it will disregard your prior tweaks. And next time it will go back to using PS Elements default algorithm for its automatic adjustment.

Well that brings us to the end of the Preferences in the General Preferences dialog box.

If you missed part one of this tutorial be sure to check it out HERE.

Until next time, this is Rick saying . . . Take care!

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