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Jan 19

Be smart and use Smart Guides

2006 at 11.16 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Another feature in Photoshop CS2 that’s proven handy is “Smart Guides”. It’s actually a feature they borrowed from Illustrator. It may not be Photoshop’s most sexy feature but it can save you some hassle. If you are a pixel junkie like me you want everything aligned, the bills don’t get payed by being sloppy ;-)

Smart Guides in Photoshop CS2

As you can see in the screenshot above you get dynamic snapping guides that pop up as you drag layers or objects around. It allows you to perfectly align things with other objects on your canvas. So no trip to the options bar Alignment Tools needed. You can turn “Smart Guides” on by going to View > Show > Smart Guides.

UPDATE Waow if the Smart Guides would work like in Omni Graffle (a program you get for free when you buy a PowerMac) that would be even better. Look at the screenshot below. You even get to see the distance between 2 objects. Adobe, are you reading this? :-)

Omni Graffle Smart Guides

Hat tip Chris Eidhof ;-)




permalink this comment Nathan Smith Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 12.01 pm

I’m not a Photoshop user, but this feature is one that I make frequent use of in Fireworks. Don’t know where I’d be without it; definitely an invaluable tool.



permalink this comment stijn Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 12.50 pm

I always use guides. I usualy start by laying out a grid with guides and then just fill in the boxes with my design. It really helps to create a basic layout.



permalink this comment paul haine Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 01.43 pm

I discovered Smart Guides by accident, and now I’ve used them for a while I’m addicted. We use Photoshop 6 at work and it’s so frustrating moving between 6 there and CS2 at home…



permalink this comment Mickey Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 03.34 pm

Pixel junkie, what a great phrase.  That so describes me!



permalink this comment Alexander Berglund Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 03.41 pm

Neat, just using CS doesn’t give me the opportunity to check it on in photoshop CS 2 even though I use that feature frequently in Illustrator CS.

Always good to learn something new as it is time to put up arguments why to upgrade or switch programs =)



permalink this comment Peter Costello Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 04.01 pm

Couldn’t agree more.  I discovered smart guides in illustrator 9 or 10.  Hated them at first as they are quite in your face. But once I got past that I fell in love with them. I do only turn them on for precision work though.

I didnt realise they were in PS now.  Thanks. PS CS2 feels like its got enhanced pixel snapping by default too. Overall, I’m loving the CS2 suite.



permalink this comment Phil Balchin Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 04.14 pm

Thats all well and good, but you call your self a pixel junkie, you haven’t mention anything about smart distribution! probably because it doesn’t exist, damm, i wish it did. . .

sorry, nice tip though



permalink this comment Chris Eidhof Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 01.46 am

That looks quite cool. Does it work the same way as the guides in OmniGraffle? OmniGraffle ships with your Mac by default, and it is a really beautiful package. You should try out to place some buttons horizontally en vertically even spaced. It works really nice, imo all smart guides should work like this :). I’m really fond of the OmniGroup programs.



permalink this comment Pat Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 02.05 am

I’m afraid I’m a pixel junkie too… lol! Thanks for the tip!



permalink this comment Bram Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 04.24 am

Yup, it’s not untill I recently I discovered this and became a fan of the feature almost instantly. Is it me by the way, or does the ctrl-disable snap feature not work anymore with smart guides?



permalink this comment Veerle Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 04.41 am

@Chris Eidhof: OMG! This works like a blast. I’m sorry to report that it doesn’t work that intelligent in Photoshop CS2. This would be a super feature for a next update to Photoshop. I updated my article and give you credit ;-)

@Bram: You are right it is disabled but I think it has no purpose there since you are aligning things.



permalink this comment Phil Balchin Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 07.09 am

Kind of like Omni Gaffle, X Code Window Designer shows smart guides when your positioning UI elements, so do the new Microsoft developer tools. They both also distibute to an auto padding value around other elements If only Dreamweaver was this simple, it might make me actually want to use it.



permalink this comment AkaXakA Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 09.35 am

Oh my! I want want want want that Omni feature in Photoshop…smart guides will have to do for now though.



permalink this comment Stephan L. Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 12.59 pm

nice feature veerli! tnx ;)



permalink this comment thinsoldier Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 02.43 pm

you, me, and 9000 other people have blog posts full of wonderfully useful and simple improvements that can and should have been made to photoshop since the time of version 7…but, adobe doesn’t care, they don’t listen to us.



permalink this comment Chris Eidhof Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05.23 am

Yes, I went from a non-user to a fanboy in just 2 minutes while using OmniGraffle. I’ve also bought OmniOutliner Pro, and that program is just as cool as OmniGraffle. Those guys really did think about the users.



permalink this comment Soyuz Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 12.53 pm

I’m a Photoshop user and I’m using CS1. I think this feature is very useful but I don’t know whether I should upgrade to CS2 or stick to CS1. I guess my PC can’t make it since it’s an old AMD Duron 700 with only 256 Mb SDRAM.



permalink this comment matt tolbert Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 02.45 pm

hi veerle,
I’m a late de-lurker. I am a recent college graduate with a degree in art education. I’m looking to freelance design, illustrate, etc. Your tutorials have been more than helpful in my pursuit to be a better more efficient graphics/web person. Thanks very much.



permalink this comment Veerle Sun Jan 22, 2006 at 09.01 am

@Soyuz: You’ll need more RAM to run CS2 smoothly so I would stick to CS1 untill you update your machine.



permalink this comment davey Sun Jan 22, 2006 at 02.14 pm

It’s so frustrating when you find amazing tools like ‘smart guides’ in Omni Graffle but so annoying when it’s restricted to certain packages. Is it a copyright issue or are Adobe not bothered? I wonder….



permalink this comment gb Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 11.40 am

this have been amazingly helpful had I read it the day it came out… crap.

Oh well, next project…



permalink this comment greensurfer Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 12.16 pm

Hello veerle. I read your advice to a guy to take more memory in his machine. So I am wonder if my machine can work on CS2. well I use my nothebook Sony Vaio 1.73 ghz with 512 Sdram memory. I am wonder if i must stick with my version 10 on illustrator and photoshop version 7 or would be fine upgrade to Cs2? What you think?  Many thanks.



permalink this comment Veerle Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 12.41 pm

@Greensufer said:

well I use my nothebook Sony Vaio 1.73 ghz with 512 Sdram memory. I am wonder if i must stick with my version 10 on illustrator and photoshop version 7 or would be fine upgrade to Cs2?

For the CS2 I think you’ll need to add more RAM, 1GB RAM would be good but more is better ;)



permalink this comment Phil Sun Apr 23, 2006 at 10.02 am

@Veerle said:

For the CS2 I think you’ll need to add more RAM, 1GB RAM would be good but more is better ;)

I have 512mb of ram and PS CS2 runs very smoothly. Infact, if you look at the system requirements on The adobe website, you’ll see that 320MB of RAM is the minimum but 384MB is recommended. More RAM is usefull if you will be using many applications at once, but I usually have Illustrator CS2, Photoshop CS2, FireFox with 8-10 tabs open, iTunes and xChat open and it isn’t too bad on 512mb of ram.

I will agree with you that more ram is better though! I can’t wait till I get another 512 to add on to this.

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