I’ve got several sets (divided up by their general task—resizing, color controls, special effects, etc.) full of several Actions in each. Consequently, when it comes time to find the right action I need at any given moment, I end up wasting half the time I’m supposed to be saving in search of the right Action. So it was a pleasant surprise when I finally learned about the Photoshop Actions palette’s Button Mode.
Even though I utilize two displays at my workstation, and even though my second display is devoted primarily to Photoshop palettes, there’s not enough room to make every palette as large as it might ideally be. Add to that the several dozen Actions I have in that palette and it becomes clear why Button Mode is so useful.
With a click of the mouse—in the pull-down options menu of the Actions palette—I can switch the palette to Button Mode. Instantly, instead of scrolling through a list of dozens of actions, I’m greeted with all of them in one view, color coded, with speedkey presets still intact.
You may be wondering what’s so much faster about looking at all the buttons simultaneously rather than scrolling through a list. Either way, you still have to find the one action you need out of a larger group, right? True enough, but with Button Mode activated you’re also activating a different part of your brain. The same spatial intelligence that makes the computer’s graphical user interface so powerful makes Button Mode equally effective. Connecting the appropriate button to a particular space on the screen also connects it to a place in your mind—meaning you'll soon find your mouse moving to the right button effortlessly, rather than expending the mental energy and few moments of time searching for the right action in the menu.
It may not sound like much, but it really is one more powerful way that Photoshop allows you to customize your workspace to fit it precisely to your needs. Over time, each of these small efficiencies add up dramatically.