It's always a bonus to uncover a shortcut or program enhancement, and here we bring you 100 tips and tricks that we hope will make your computing experience quicker, simpler or more rewarding. From Windows to security, ergonomics to photo-imaging, PC Authority gives you inside information on how to make the most of your IT assets.
All about image
1 If you have to resample a photographic image to increase its size, you can increase the final quality by breaking down the enlargement into smaller steps and, if possible, switching to 16-bit image mode.
2 Remember that your final image is built up of red, green and blue channels. If your application lets you work with these separately, it's much easier to make a selection on the colour channel in which the object stands out the most.
3 JPEG images lose quality each time they're edited and re-saved. When working extensively on a JPEG photo, first save it to a lossless format such as TIFF or PSD. To rotate your portrait digital camera shots, use a utility such as CompuPic Pro (www.photodex.com/products/pro/index.html) or IrfanView (www.irfanview.com), which offers dedicated lossless JPEG rotation.
4 When applying filters in Photoshop, you can immediately lessen an over-strong effect with the Edit | Fade command <Shift-Ctrl-F>. Alternatively, you can achieve the same effect in any program by copying your image to a new layer, applying the filter and then changing the layer opacity.
5 Managing layers in a photomontage in Photoshop or Elements can be tricky. Using the Move tool (V) you can automatically select the current foreground pixel's layer by Ctrl-clicking on it, while right clicking lets you choose from a list of all underlying layers. To select the layer contents, simply Ctrl-click on the layer name in the Layers palette.
6 The pen tools lie at the heart of vector drawing, but nobody's perfect so it's often handy to be able to fine-tune the anchor points of your line as you're drawing it. With CorelDRAW's Bezier tool, you can simply click on an existing node to temporarily switch to the Shape tool. To do the same in Illustrator, you need to select the Direct Selection tool (A) before selecting the Pen tool (P) and then use the Ctrl key toggle to temporarily switch into editing mode.
7 With vector graphics, you often want to repeat the same effect to a number of different objects. With CorelDRAW, you can use the Edit | Repeat command <Ctrl-R>. The nearest equivalent in Illustrator is to repeat the last transformation with the Object | Transform | Transform Again command <Ctrl-D>.
8 Double clicking on the Zoom tool in CorelDRAW zooms the display to show all objects (F4). Double clicking on the Zoom tool in Illustrator sets the display to 100 percent <Ctrl-1>, while double clicking on the Hand tool zooms to show the full page <Ctrl-0>. In both programs, the keyboard shortcut Z selects the interactive Zoom tool.
9 Macromedia Flash takes a unique approach to drawing, in which overlapping objects of the same colour automatically, and often undesirably, join into one. You can avoid this by adding objects on their own layer or, most easily, by grouping <Ctrl-G> any object that you want to protect.
10 Don't just accept the Flash defaults when publishing. If your movie doesn't use recent features, make sure you set the Flash version as low as possible to prevent your site's visitors being asked to upgrade their player unnecessarily. Also explore the HTML Template presets, which let you set up player detection, alternative graphics and enhanced support for browser bookmarking and navigation.