IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE TWEAKS TEXT
There’s an old rule among software developers that says the average person uses only 20 percent of the features in a typical application. The 80 percent of features left untapped can be divided into two types: the ones that folks just don’t need, and the ones that they might love...if only they knew about them.
I’ve used Adobe’s Photoshop for around a decade. For most of that time, I called on maybe five percent of its features—basic photo-tweaking tools such as ones that let me crop, resize, and rotate images. It was a pretty inefficient way to work with such a potent piece of software. But Photoshop isn’t just famous for being powerful; it also has a reputation for being pretty impenetrable.
Then one day I stumbled on Photoshop’s Layer Styles—not just one feature, but a rich collection of options that I hadn’t known about. (They were tucked behind a cryptic icon I clicked by accident, in a toolbar I’d been ignoring.)
Layer Styles turned out to be the key to making Photoshop into a powerhouse type-manipulation tool for me. They let me apply gradients, shadows, borders, and other fancy effects to headlines, logos, and other bits of text for my website. Once I found them, they were remarkably easy to use, and soon became so essential that I mostly forgot I hadn’t known about them all along.
Today, I don’t think of Photoshop as a photo editor. I consider it as a typographical toolbox first and foremost. It’s among the few pieces of for-pay desktop software that I can’t imagine replacing with a free Web-based service. And I learned a lesson that has stuck with me: a lot of the products I own are useful in ways I don’t at first realize.
Oh, and I still use no more than around ten percent of Photoshop’s features. But they add up to a much bigger deal than the way I used the package in the past.