Photoshop: Bizarre inconsistency selecting Tool Presets via Actions (all versions)

  • 1
  • Problem
  • Updated 4 years ago
  • (Edited)
(NB I addressed this once, years ago, on another forum, only to be met with answers such as "why would you want to do that?" or "it was never meant to work that way". Fortunately, that sort of childishness never happens here, right?)

For each tool, there's usually only one or two things I do with it 'most of the time'. So, I write an action that will select a tool preset called "Default", and another to select a preset named "AltDefault". Then for each tool I want to use this on, I create correspondingly named presets. Assign both actions to a function keys, and presto! No matter what tool I'm using, I can quickly switch to my most-used settings right from the keyboard.

Unfortunately, that's not what happens. It'll work on one or two tools, but not others. Sometimes it'll only work with the brush I created the action with, sometimes it'll work on that tool and one other, but then stop working on the original tool, sometimes it'll only work on a brand new tool preset, sometimes it'll only work on a pre-existing preset...

In case that wasn't clear, here are some real-life examples:

I'll create the action using the Clone Stamp tool, and it works fine on the clone tool. It won't work on the Brush tool at all, failing with the error: "The command "Select" is not currently available". Then I'll try it on the Healing Brush; it works. Then I'll use it on the Clone tool again, and now I get the error message.

If I rename the preset and re-record the action with the new name (using Clone), it will work again. Rename the corresponding Healing Brush Preset, that works too. Go back to the Clone Stamp, it's stopped working. The Smudge tool will only work on old presets, Brush too. Clone will only work temporarily, and only on fresh presets.

Saving the action set and opening in a text editor reveals no clues. Troubleshooting this will take someone with an intimate knowledge of how PS executes actions.

Right now, it's working gloriously, but on a single tool. I'm using it to toggle between "Current Layer" and "Current & Below" on the healing brush, so if it's easier to add keyboard shortcuts to the toolbar, I'll gladly take that instead, just saying...

PS Mac OS X, all versions, PS all versions.
Photo of 9 Stitches Images

9 Stitches Images

  • 107 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes

Posted 4 years ago

  • 1
Photo of 9 Stitches Images

9 Stitches Images

  • 107 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
Bueller?
Photo of Jeffrey Tranberry

Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

  • 14049 Posts
  • 1735 Reply Likes
Hi Joel,

Sorry for the late reply.

I think what you want to do is "Enable Tool Recording" in the Actions panel flyout menu.

Then, record selecting the tool prior to tool preset.



Can you let me know if that works as expected?
Photo of 9 Stitches Images

9 Stitches Images

  • 107 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
It didn't seem related, but I tried anyway and there's no difference. It worked for some tools, and not for others (the same as before). If I understand correctly, Allow Tool Recording is there to record brush strokes etc.

I tried the above example, and it works, with or without Allow Tool Recording, which may be a red herring in this situation.

What I now suspect is that each tool preset needs a unique name, regardless of what tool it's associated with, and if two or more have the same name, the action will only work on the tool that had that preset first. Or something.

Also, certain tools don't have the necessary ID or whatever to call them with an action: lasso, patch, crop, move, marquee, but they're not so preset-dependent anyway.

I don't think what I want to do can be accomplished with actions.
Photo of Jeffrey Tranberry

Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

  • 14049 Posts
  • 1735 Reply Likes
Your observation is correct. Sorry. I was thinking "Allow Tool Recording" was necessary to record tool selection changes.

Presets are tool specific, and the tool needs to be active prior to selecting the preset. That's why I was suggesting adding the step to select the associated tool prior to selecting the matching preset. You'd need to assign a separate keyboard shortcut to each tool + preset you need.

To get to the default setting, you could use the command "Reset Tool" generically across all tools to reset the currently selected tools defaults - but you can't have 'generic default' preset that works with all tools.
Photo of 9 Stitches Images

9 Stitches Images

  • 107 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
Well, obviously, only the preset's name was generic, as my preferred clone stamp settings are not germane to the smudge tool, etc.

Apparently, although photoshop will allow you to reuse preset names, the tool preset architecture can't really make sense of it. Unfortunately, my idea is useless unless it can use a generic name; I'm already running short of F-keys as it is, so I can't devote an action to each tool. From the outside, it seemed like it should work, but I'm getting a better idea of how preset information is actually stored.

My current workaround is to give each preset a unique name (CloneDefault, CloneAlt etc.), and have a single action call up each brush and it's default, and a corresponding action for the alternate brush. Although this isn't likely a high priority to anyone but me, I can always hope that it's solved by accident with some future version of conditional actions or something. Reset Tool would be more useful if I could save my own defaults.
Photo of Jeffrey Tranberry

Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

  • 14049 Posts
  • 1735 Reply Likes
I'll pass along your use case to folks who work on tool presets. Perhaps it's something we could support in the future.
Photo of 9 Stitches Images

9 Stitches Images

  • 107 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
Thanks. I trust anyone who saw merit in the idea would think of a less clumsy solution than I would...