Photoshop improvements list

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  • Updated 6 years ago
I made a list of improvements and fixes for PS. Here I try to change PS evolution path, turn it to web and graphics designers who feels everyday pain because of a lot of annoying things and missing opportunities. It was huge work and I really hope Adobe will see it!

PS impovements list. In random order, presented within a few logical parts.

Layers, Smart layer and Blending Styles

⦁ In free transform mode (whatever you transform - text, smart layer, maked layer) when you try to pull square handle on transformation frame it changes absolutely unexpectedly. It cause major inconvenience and wrong transformation all the time you do it. It happens even when you transform text layer. Espetially it is the problem when you have a large layer hidden by mask mostly. Sometimes handles and the frame go far outside the working space trying to represent size of layer by itself so it's impossible to operate. It is really stupid problem. SOLUTION - Layer frame in both regular move and transfromation mode must remain the same size! Also on masked layer Photoshop must take mask center as layer center.

⦁ + When we have rotated layer it's frame is not rotated too. It cause inconvenience when you try to select layer underneath. Solution - rotated layer frame must always apperar rotated too.

⦁ There is a way to distribute a number of layers by their centers. But there's no way to achieve more common for web-designers task - distribute elements with constant margin. It must be there)

⦁ Often have to deal with a lot of smart layers, which, in fact, should not have to be so, but had to because of the need to change the filter or distort it, retaining the ability to edit it. We have to work with it as a separate document, blindfolded, which is often very uncomfortable. Why not add the ability to edit it in isolated mode, as in Illustrator, in the same document in which it is located? Or give an option to apply smart filters to not-smart objects. Please, concider this change, it's one of most significant changes have to be done to this program. The way it is now is not smart enough)

⦁ Blending (layer) styles. Why are they limited so strange? Why can't shadow be wider than 255 pixels? It's too strange. + when you make huge-huge banners you have to make elemnts smaller, turn them to smart layers and scale up to acheve effects size as needed. Strange. And must be solved.

⦁ When you work with layer styles you must see everything as it is, without any overlays. In CS6 something always interfere you to see object you are working with!

⦁ When you transform object that has layer styles those styles transform too. Where is an option to let them remain the same as before transformation???

⦁ The only way to crop layer is to make a mask and hit delete. But if layer goes outside the borders of document there will be areas that will remain after this. Solution - we need layer crop tool. Really need

⦁ Why we can add as many raster masks to the layer but can't do the same with vector masks? Why?

⦁ in CS6 adding adjustment layers and their editing are on two different tabs. It's very, very uncomfortably! Better make it as it was before.

⦁ When you transfer layer to the group, simply draggin'n'droppng it on the group icon - why, why does it falls all the way down to the very bottom? Where is logic???

⦁ Guides and notes. When we create multi-layered designs (each page of site in own group) both guides and notes are global (are not linked to certain group or layer) and in process of designing we have a mash with a huge amount of rulers and it's already impossible sometime to decide - what page is this guide related to? Solution - Illustrator-like guides represented by spetial kind of layer. I think one such layer must hold a few rullers (as well as notes) at one time.

⦁ About guides again. When you graw a shape with pen and hold down control to move a point near guide cursor starts to move guide. Stupid? Definately. Solution - whatever tool му are working with when you hold down control button coursor must not move guides.

⦁ When you deal with layer styles you can't pick color from the object you are working over. No, you can, but you'll pick the color of object by itself, excluding blending options. Strange behavior

⦁ Why when we undo actions hiding and showing layers are not recorded as a step in history? It's pretty strange often, when you see something wrong, but can't remember that you hid a layer) I think we have to include this action in history or create separate hotkey for that , Shift-z/Shift-y, maybe

⦁ Very, very frustrating when you select a layer, do something and undo than. Selection goes back to previews layer! It's intorelably!!!

⦁ When you copy png from Firefox, for example, and paste it to photoshop the black color appears instead of alpha channel. Very boring...

⦁ Working with text tool. When you click with this tool over text layer hidden by other layer you go strait to this hidden text layer. Why????? It's horribly stupid. If layer is overlaped with other, it may not be selected this way. Must be fixed

⦁ same happens with rotated text layer. You click outside of it, but inside it's frame, and... You select it and enter editing mode. Annoying.

⦁ I prepose to add setting to make Smart guides visible all the time, not only when we move something. Like in Illustrator.

⦁ After raster layer transformation it MUST NOT be resampled immendately. Another words, Photoshop must save in memory original image and when we decide to transform it again it will transform original image, not resampled. There still are a lot of designers who does not understand that after each transformation image looses quality.

⦁ I think it will be pretty useful - linking parameters. For example, I have a few layers that represent one element of design and they are distributed in document separately so I can't group them. I want to hide them all (or show). If we will be able to link them there will not be such question.

⦁ To the point. In After Effects there is pretty handy feature that can be called "color-variables". It allows you to choose some color or a few and link color of certain elements to this variables. It gives a quick and super-easy way to quickly recolor your artwork, design an so on... I think Photoshop looses much without this great feature. Every change to big, multi-layerd design is a big problem...

⦁ Elemen-variable or instance copy. Yes, yes). Emagine - we have 10-pages site in one psd. On each page we have such a common for all the site elements as menu, footer, ui-elements and so on... Client wants to change something little in one of those elements, and.... You have to perform HUGE work replacing all this elements on all the pages... Scared?) So I think instance copies of layers and groups will become must-have in serious designer's arsenal as well as color-variables

⦁ Free-transform tool. It's not too useful now. I see at least two big downsides - resempling algorithm destroys image quality. And most important - when you get out of presets to custom mesh you have no any option to customize it. Moving corners does not affect their handles. Operating with this mesh is very uncomfortable.


⦁ Every time you choose font for text you can't guess does this font support Cyrilic and hieroglyphic symbols. So you can choose font that does not suport this and you'll see nothing is changed, excluding kerning. I think it would be handy if font properties will be shown in drop-down list.

⦁ Font preview. When we hover over font in drop-down list the text we are working with must be displayed in the font we hovered. Like in ms word. Fast and easy method to preview what we want

⦁ + I think it's necessary to have ability to change regular "sample" preview text with something different. I think also that when we select a pice of text and change the font "sample" must be swapped with selected text. No sure it will work well and fast, but it would be a nice feature

⦁ In all Adobe programms we have some fonts that has no Cyrilic and hieroglyohic sybols, but there are avilable even for free vertions of those font with this symbols. For example Stencil. I think it have to be fixed.

⦁ In text parameters we have no ability to add dashed underline to text, change it's color. In Web it's very common task, so why isn't it here?

⦁ Anti-aliasing. There are a lot of browsers, each has own anti-aliasing filter. But when you design anything in Photoshop and after see it in real life you see something different! Fonts are smoothing differently, and Adobe has no any anti-aliasing model that will emulate any of browser's real-life anti-aliasing. It must be concidered as a thing to change.

⦁ + we have the same with underline! Very often we see fat strange underline where in browser it must be thin 1 pixel line. Not good...

⦁ Pixel-perfect text. I said about it already, but... We really need it, I repeat)

Shapes and vector.

⦁ Symmetry tools. We really need it)

⦁ While editing one point's handles on bezier curve you can see only handles nearest to this point. Why isn't there an option to show them all?

⦁ Custom shapes. I understand why they are separated buy setst, but why does dialog this stupid annoying "do you really want to replace this set with another" appears every time you change the set??? And why can't we review all the sets in the same time?

⦁ Procedural shapes. When you create a shape you often see that wrong paremeters were chosen, but you can't change it already. You have to delete that shape and draw another. We need a posibility to chage shape parameters after creating figure.

⦁ Scaling shapes and moving points. It's a pain when you scale a shape that's exactly (for example) 50*50 px, but because of pixel snapping the size is dancing about 30+31, or 31*30... It currupts the shape.

⦁ + you will have the same behavior while moving point. Sometimes it's must-have options, sometimes it really get a nerves.

⦁ BUGGEST fail with paths and shapes. If a point of the shape is placed initially it the middle of pixel you'll not be able to snap it to the pixel grid at all!!! It will always move at least 1 pixel in any demention, but will never be snapped properly. Fail, really)

⦁ When you select a shape layer and try to do a region selection over point on the path, and accedentaly click on shape layer below that, you will be switched to layer below immendately! It's ****ly annoying!

⦁ While drawing a shape new points don't snap to already existing ones. Same happens when you just move a poit. It seems to me Illustrator-like snapping will be pretty handy in this situation

⦁ + We really miss snap on bezier handles!

⦁ I tried to round a corner of path. And I can say sometimes it's even impossible to do, it's all manual. Maybe add a "chamfer" tool for vector layers?

⦁ We really need an analog of Illutrator's pathfinder. Of cource, Phoshop is not a vector program, but if there are vector tools they must be comfortable and overall.

⦁ I really want to see a way to merge two or more shape layers to one preserving shapes buy themself. I'm sure it's good idea

⦁ There must be an option to preserve handles position of neares point of path when we delete on of them. Now Photoshop tries to preserve shape, but in a lot of cases it currupts whe path we are working with.

⦁ We need more, and different, anti-aliasing models for vector shape. Same as for the text.

⦁ Masks. There's very poor functionality. For example, we can transform selection, but can't transform vector mask applied to layer. We can't add/substruct/do anything alse with it what must normally be able to do.

Additional notes about performance and usability

⦁ Moving canvas. Why when document does not fill all the canvas we can't move it around? It's so stupid and uncomfortable...

⦁ Scroll bars. Who uses it? It's not usefil but takes a space. I think it's better to remove it or make them thinner

⦁ When you save document the path we saved last one must be default.

⦁ Changing extension must be more (much more) fast and easy. When we type extension in save dialog we well save document in psd, and it does not mean whatever we had type - png, jpg or something other. Why so stupid?

⦁ Save for Web dialog is not easy to use at all. Why can't we define a preset for all the slices at once or just apply it to each slice? The default gif preset is to unuseful, and changing it is a pain. I think it really worth to redisign this dialog.

⦁ Placing instrument settings in prefereces dialog (such as "snap vector shapes" or "image interpolation" is very, very wrong idea! All that settings must appear on the tool settings panel, otherwise it's very uncomfotrable to use

⦁ New representation of shape layers is very uncomfortable. Bring it back as it was - just solid color layer and mask on top of it.

⦁ Control-Alt-Z, Control-Z... It's very annoying when you undo with Control-Z, want to return, press Control-Shft-Z and nothing happens. Stupid behavior. Undo and Stap backward commands must be the same, with same hotkey.

⦁ When you try to drag n' drop a layer holding down Alt to copy it, and it's already placed on top of the layer stack you have no ability to copy it on top of original one. I think it must be fixed

⦁ Selecting any layer near selection frame of another layer is impossible, cursor turns to rotation/transformation mode.

⦁ Working with transformation box is a real pain. For example, when we try to move any little tiny layer we can't, becose or you start to move ancor point (that we don't do very often) or you start to transform layer. Very inconvinient.

⦁ When we grag layers from one document to another from layers panel we must always detach one document's windows to be able to do it. If we do the same moving the layers with alt held down we can transfer the between documents in different tabs. I think in both scenarios there must be a possibility to move them without need to detach window.

⦁ I think PS really needs advanced snapping system, much more advanced and smart than now. You'll laugh, but take a look at google's presentation maker, even it's snapping system much more advanced than what we have in Photoshop


Here I want to talk about how to make complex work more logic and easier. It's bold (maybe) concept, but believe me, it worth to make it reality. So...

⦁ Blending options. They have fixed, strict order that may not be changed. That limits our opportunuty to combine them, that makes impossible to acheve some complicated effects we want. I propose you the following:

Blending options, each one, will be represented as an independed effect. We can change their order and amount, copy, delete, add, hide, hide with masks, do anything we want. Exactly the same possibility as with smart objects. And here we go to...

⦁ Layered logic. To be honest, all those blending options and smart filter (remember what I said about their new concept hereinabove) are just sub-layers, but they are represented differently. It makes harder to use and understand. Let's lead it to a common denominator

⦁ Simpiest example - we have a layer with stroke. We want it to cast a shadow. Switching on Drop Shadow we'll see that that shadow is UNDERNEATH the stroke! And we have no way to solve it. Allowing users to reorder blending options filters as sublayers, as we can now reaorder smart objects, well be the indispensable feature! + we will not confuze old-school users leaving old set and old order of those options buy default.

⦁ + A really crazy thought... What if we'll be able to apply blending option to another blending option? Just imagine - for example, we create a stroke, and above that we create one more. And we can make as much as we want. How complex effects can be that we'll achive!

⦁ And, of cource, each blending option filter (let's call it so) must be able to have own mask. Really great feature, I imagine what a cool effects we'll be able to achive!

⦁ UPD. And (especially since you've dropped suddenly and imprudently dropped Fireworks) Save for Web dialog must be redisigned entierly, from scratch. Now it's about unusable.

Some additional ideas and fixes.

⦁ Per-element gradient. Often we have a layer with a few objects, or text layer with a few strings. If we apply gradient to that it will distribute colors from the very to to the very bottom. Per-element gradient will be handy when we want to apply it each string or character separately.

⦁ Gradient handles. Illustrator has this feature, why not to add it to Photoshop? Also I think the same controls for gradient overlay and gradient layer will be handy.

⦁ Gradient for stroke. The same as in AI.

⦁ What if we'll add a kind of interactive handles to stroke settings? So we'll be able to refine stroke thikness and color right on the shape it's applied to. Good idea?)

⦁ Gradients in such blending option as outer and inner glow, shadow, stroke well be very useful.

⦁ Apply color corection. For example, you have a design with washed out colors. Instead of chaging them all separately we'll add curve adgustment layer. But all the colors will generally remain the same. What if to add a tool that will "bake" those adjustments? A kind of "recolor artwork" from AI.

⦁ When you are duplicating and coping layers the layer panel becomes a horrible mess with dozens on layers with names like "Layer 123 copy 14" and it's very hard to sort it all out. Maybe it's better to copy layer with the same name as it's original?

+ In localazed vertions words Layer and Copy are cocalazed too that's not good, I think.

⦁ Clone stamp tool. It's great, but it's not as great as it can be. Very often after retouching an image you can notice the cloned areas. It's very noticeable and unveils the deception immendately. The main problem here is that the samples photoshop take as source for stamp may not be randomized (rotated and scaled randomly). Also, we can't do it manually. And donig a good healing becomes more complicated task than it could be.

⦁ Stamp again. Very annoying problem - when you heal a layer that ends within document frame Clone stamp starts to allow for "supposed" transperancy that does not really exist on image. So you get transparent areas where layer was ending and where it must not be.

⦁ In Russian Photoshop layer panel is expanded too much because of it's long title...)
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Andrew Orlow

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Posted 6 years ago

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Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

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Please post one idea per topic - so we can discuss, comment, and vote on each one separately.

Also, many of these ideas already exist with separate topics. Please add your vote to those existing topics.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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Apart from what Mr.Cox pointed out your post is so long that I seriously doubt anybody will read it in its entirety.

Still, I browsed a bit and some issues seem to be described unclearly or possibly be non-issues; some examples:

»⦁ + When we have rotated layer it's frame is not rotated too. «
What exactly are you talking about?
Rotated Layers that are not Smart Objects?

»⦁ Why we can add as many raster masks to the layer but can't do the same with vector masks? Why?«
Again: What are you talking about? Currently a Layer can have one Layer Mask and one Vector Mask.

»⦁ in CS6 adding adjustment layers and their editing are on two different tabs. It's very, very uncomfortably! Better make it as it was before.«
Before as in the »modal dialog« or the »non modal Adjustments Panel«?
For the first there are Scripting approaches that can be combined with Keyboard Shortcuts.

»⦁ I really want to see a way to merge two or more shape layers to one preserving shapes buy themself. I'm sure it's good idea«
Isn’t that what happens already when one merges two Shape Layers?

»⦁ When you copy png from Firefox, for example, and paste it to photoshop the black color appears instead of alpha channel. Very boring...«
And you assume the issue must be with Photoshop and not with the data that is passed through the clipboard because ...?

»⦁ Gradients in such blending option as outer and inner glow, shadow, stroke well be very useful.«
»Blending option«? Are you talking about Layer Styles?
Stroke already has Gradient capabilities (not the same as Illustrator, though).