If you use filters in conjunction with Smart Objects a lot in Adobe Photoshop, I have a tip you’re going to love. It’s one that you probably didn’t even know you needed, but when you realize what it does, you’ll thank me. It’s so silly, but so easy and powerful.
In today’s post, I’d like to show you two different aspects regarding the filter menu in Photoshop. First, I’ll show you how the default menu appears. Then, I’ll make one small change in the Preference area that will open things up inside the Filter menu and allow you to view a lot more of what you’re working with.
After that, I’ll explain how the change I made affects the named filters listed under the Smart Object mask in the Layers panel. You really need to read this post to determine which view you like the most. Some folks prefer a clean streamlined (default) look, while others prefer to see everything at once. Personally, I like to have as much in front of me as possible. If I can’t see it, there’s a chance I’ll miss it.
I’ll be applying some filters in this post as examples, so I thought I’d show you the photo that I’ll be using to apply those filters to. It could have been any photo, but I found this one interesting.
The Default Filter Menu View
Okay, let’s get going. To start things off, I think I’ll show you what the default view of the Filter menu looks like in Photoshop. This is what you’ll get if you make no modifications to the menu in any way.
If you’ll notice the primary (largest) section of the menu, you’ll see that there are currently 11 items in it. I was a little surprised by this a few years ago because I seemed to have remembered a few more items in there. I wondered where they went. You know which ones I’m talking about. Colored pencil, cutout, dry brush and so many more. Where were these items? I remember them being nested under primary headings, but I couldn’t find them. But really, this was the least of my problems.
Take a look at this. I’m first going to change the background layer into a Smart Object because I’m going to be applying filters to it and then I’m going to head up into the Filter menu and click on Filter Gallery. Let’s see where that brings me.
Okay, well I guess I just found where all the filter items I was looking for went. I think Photoshop decided to hide all the top level filter groupings that held these filters and placed them all under the heading of Filter Gallery. This palette contains the filters that were missing. I guess that makes sense if you enjoy having a cleaner interface. One click gets you straight to everything you might want.
I’m going to go ahead and click on Colored Pencil and then on OK to apply this filter. I want to check something out. First, I’ll show you what a colored pencil picture looks like.
I’m not sure I told you this, but I enjoy working in a descriptive environment. Since I deal with a zillion things a day, I need everything labeled and easily identifiable. I’m going to now head over to the Layers panel to see how this colored pencil filter was labeled under the Smart Filters mask.
Really? I just applied the Colored Pencil filter and all I get is a label that says Filter Gallery in the Layers panel? Yes, it’s true. That’s what you get these days. I’d like to let you know that if I went ahead and applied more of these types of filters, they’d all say the same thing – Filter Gallery. So let me ask you something. How in the heck am I going to identify the one I may want to double-click on to edit in the future? Do I have to double-click on all of them? There has to be a better way.
Expanding the Filter Menu
Luckily, there is. To bring the Filter menu back to it’s glory days so I can see a few more options, I’m going to head to the Edit > Preferences > Plug-ins menu item and click.
Doing this will open up the Preferences palette, where I’ll check the box that says Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names.
I’ll click on the OK button and then I’ll return to the Filter menu up top. I’d like to see if what I did had any effect.
It did have an effect. I can now see some groupings for those filters that are held in the Filter Gallery palette. The top level groups are Artistic, Brush Strokes and Sketch. While each of these headings contains items that will bring me right back into the Filter Gallery palette, I’ll be brought straight to the section that’s related to the menu item I clicked on. If you aren’t aware, the Filter Gallery is fairly huge and it takes some time to navigate. Landing right in the section I’m working on is a big help.
This isn’t the best part though. If I open the Filter Gallery again and apply another filter, I should see something change in the Layers panel. For this example, I’ll apply the Artistic > Cutout filter.
First, let’s see how this filter affects the photograph, just for fun.
Next, I’ll head over to the Layers panel to see if this filter is labeled differently under the Smart Filters section.
Ah, would you look at that. Instead of this filter description simply saying Filter Gallery, which isn’t very descriptive at all, it now says Cutout, which is much more descriptive. I like this a lot more.
To wrap up, there are two benefits to altering your preferences in this regard. First, you’ll have the ability to see more in the way of filters under the Filter menu and second, you’ll have more descriptive filter labels in the Layers panel. I really hope this helps.
I hope I clearly explained how to expand the filter menu in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!