Category: Design

Clear Photoshop’s Swatch Palette

The Photoshop swatch palette

Everybody wants a rainbow, apparently.

Whether you're trying to save a specific set of colors for later use, or simply want a palette with only your colors on it, you'll likely have encountered a problem that has been plaguing Photoshop for as long as I remember, and still hasn't been addressed in CS5 (or CS5.5, that I know of): how do you clear the swatch palette?

The only things you can do from Photoshop's own menus are:

  1. reset the swatch palette to the default colors
  2. replace the palette with a new swatch palette by selecting "Replace Swatches."

Anyway, there are two ways to clear the swatch palette completely. Actually, there are three, but one of those is to manually right-click each swatch and select Delete swatch." If you've got way too much time on your hands, this would be the way to go. For the rest of us that would rather get on with our lives, there are two better methods of clearing out the palette.

The first method is to do it manually, only with the help of a keyboard shortcut. While holding your mouse cursor over the swatch palette, hold down Alt ( Option on Mac). Your cursor should change to a scissors icon (). Click any color in the swatch palette to delete it. You'll have to do this over a hundred times to clear out the palette, but if you're a furious clicker like me, you can have this done in under 10 seconds (I play Starcraft, so...yeah).

The Alt/ Option clicking works fairly well, but is still somewhat labor intensive. If you want to clear it even faster, you can download this (mostly empty) swatch file. It includes only one color, black, so you can simply delete this single swatch and begin filling the palette with your own colors.

Download the file below: (50 bytes)


Adobe Shadow: Speed Up Design on Mobile

Adobe Shadow, not to be confused with DJ Shadow.

Lee Brimelow (evangelist for Adobe) has just posted a link to a new product released in Adobe Labs called ShadowAdobe Edge Inspect. This is an application that sits both on your development machine, and as an app for Android or iOS devices (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad), enabling you to quickly debug the rendering of websites.

Basically, once you are running Shadow on both your development machine and your mobile device(s), the app will then pair the devices. You then browse websites using your development machine, and your devices browse along with you. No touching, no turning on, and no fiddling with mobile browsers.

Remote inspection of pages is another pretty amazing feature of Shadow. In the same vein as Firebug and Chrome/Safari's Developer Tools, the DOM can be inspected and edited directly on the device from the development machine.

While this is all very cool, the one downside (yet somehow an upside from Adobe's point-of-view) is that each device is actually making separate requests to the server for each URL. While this does keep the navigation of pages consistent with how they would actually be browsed, I can't imagine this working very well for sites that rely heavily on POST requests.

For designers, it seems to be quite an elegant solution to the problem of testing multiple variations on a single site design.

Check it out at the Adobe Labs.

Edit: This is now called "Adobe Edge Inspect" is now included with Creative Cloud subscriptions.


Quick Tip: “Permissions” Issue with Adobe Extension Manager

If you receive an error while installing an extension to the CS5 (or CS4) suite like "You do not have appropriate permissions" to install the extension, do the following:

  1. Close Adobe Extension Manager
  2. Through the Windows programs menu, find Adobe Extension Manager and right-click it
  3. Select "Run as Administrator"
  4. Install your extension by double-clicking the .zxp file

WordPress Tip: Adding Custom Menus to a Theme

If you're using WordPress 3.0 or above (which, if you're using WordPress, you really should be), you have the option of adding custom menus to your theme without extra plugins.

In the past, this was managed via plugins such as "Page Links To" and "Exclude Pages." Now, this can all be managed within the WordPress admin console and in your theme, with a decent amount of customization.

In this tutorial, I'm assuming you know the basics of PHP (enough to create your own theme, at least).

To tell WordPress that this theme supports menus, add the following code to your theme's functions.php file:

// I want to add a header and footer
register_nav_menus( array(
        'header' => 'Top Navigation',
        'footer' => 'Top Navigation',

To use a menu in your theme files, you will need to add a line similar to what's shown here. I added this in my header.php file for the top navigation, and added a similar line to footer.php:


There are many more options available for how your menu is displayed; see the WordPress Codex page for wp_nav_menu.

To create your new menus in WordPress, go to the admin console, click Appearances > Menus. This screen is fairly self-explanatory. I was able to replace three plugins and some custom header and footer code using only this method, in about 10 minutes (including research on wp_nav_menu).

For even more hardcore customization using custom walkers (a feature described in the Codex), check out Christian Budschedl's excellent post, Improve Your WordPress Navigation Output.

Happy blogging!


Adobe Creative Suite 5.5: Worth the Upgrade?

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5: Make Adobe Money Edition

Note the "CS5.5" tag, because it's the exact same box as CS5.

Adobe has recently released version 5.5 of its Creative Suite packages. Having recently upgraded to CS5 from a mixed CS3/CS4 environment, I had to ask myself if it's worth both the trouble and expense to upgrade at this point.

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After Effects: Fullscreen Preview

If you actually bother preemptively reading your software documentation, you may have already known this, but this is a huge time-saver over having to render test movies for my HDTV.

At work, I'm using a 27" 1080p monitor/television as my secondary monitor. We use a model that has a similar color profile for presentations, so using this screen as a preview screen is essential. Otherwise, we'd have to keep our presentation displays unpacked and hooked up to a computer, transfer files, and so on. I won't get into (more) details, but suffice to say it would be a royal pain.

You can stretch to the edges, but there's still a border.

Even with this setup, I've been rendering drafts to an mp4 file and running a video player fullscreen on the HDTV (which matches the production environment). This is still a step I'd rather not have to do, so finally today I did some searching.

'Lo, and behold! There is a way.

According to Adobe documentation, Ctrl+\ (+\ on Mac) does the following:

Resize application window or floating window to fit screen. (Press again to resize window so that contents fill the screen.)

Since my composition window is on the second monitor already, I pressed Ctrl+\ twice.

Ah, fullscreen goodness.


Fix the Photoshop Clipboard (All Versions)

Situation #1: You are taking a series of screenshots and pasting them into Photoshop. Suddenly, you keep getting the same image when you paste, despite taking updated screenshots.

Situation #2: You copy an image to the clipboard from your browser, paste it into Photoshop, and all subsequent paste operations from your browser result in the same damn image.

Situation #3: You are working in Photoshop, and try to paste an image from any external program, and end up getting something you copied in Photoshop earlier.

What do these situations have in common (other than being annoying)? They're all instances of Photoshop's clipboard thinking it's smarter than you.

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Adobe Photoshop CS Under Windows 7

I installed Photoshop CS on my home machine because Photoshop CS4 runs like a dog, even on my quad-core machine beast. I do still use the rest of the CS4 applications, because their enhancements are actually worth using. But, that's a whole different story...

Anyway, if for some reason you're using Photoshop CS in Windows 7, you might find your layer dragging going quite slowly, and things generally not working at full speed.

To fix this, go to your Photoshop shortcut and right-click it. Select Properties, then the Compatibility tab. Check the box marked "Disable desktop composition" and press OK. When you start Photoshop, Windows will go into "Basic" color mode, which looks like crap, but your Photoshop will now run smooth as silk.


On a side note, I also had to do this for 3ds max 9. I don't remember the exact issue, but it also required old-school access to the screen drawing.


New Must-Have iPad Peripheral

Based on a conversation with a buddy this morning:

Michael: (after reading this iPad review) could you imagine walking into someone's house where they used their ipad as a $500 picture frame, all the time? I think I'd punch them in the face
Steve: I wouldn't - I would sell them a iPad stylus for $100 (it would be a standard #2 pencil)
Michael: LOL sure to put shiny black plastic on it
Steve: $150 for for the "distressed" stylus (chewed up pencil)

The iStylus

iDistressed: Only $149.99!


Dual Monitors:Wallpaper Techniques

You've just gotten your computer set up with dual monitors. You're sporting the true sea of information, baby! Only problem is, you don't want to see the same crappy image on both:

Double your wallpaper, halve your coolness.

Double your wallpaper, halve your coolness.

...and you definitely don't want to stretch a wallpaper intended for a single monitor onto two.

Stretching the desktop image is for losers, not designers.

Stretching the desktop image is for losers, not designers.

I'll present a few different ways of getting your monitors to show independent pictures on each desktop, and as a bonus, you will learn how to span a single dual monitor wallpaper onto dual monitors. Then you can use the high-quality dual monitor wallpapers I've created for you.

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