Software Review:
Adobe Photoshop 7.0

Adobe Photoshop 7.0
Adobe Systems, Inc.
$609; $150 upgrade. Upgrade requires serial number and previous version of product on same platform as current purchase.

With the release of Photoshop 7, the last major piece of the OS X puzzle has fallen into place. This OS X-native version of Photoshop (it also runs in OS 9.1 and 9.2) promises to precipitate a mass operating system migration among graphics professionals and others for whom Photoshop is the pivotal productivity program. (Try saying that three times fast!)

But OS X compatibility is just the beginning. New tools, new features, and an astonishing new brush help make this the most exciting Photoshop upgrade to date.

The workspace will look familiar to Photoshop 6 users, but subtle enhancements have been made. Two file folder-style tabs now occupy the Palette Dock, the previously empty space at the right of the Options bar that runs across the top of the Photoshop window. One is the File Browser, the other is Brushes. Both will change the way you use Photoshop.

The File Browser improves on a feature first introduced in Photoshop Elements. This customizable version offers multiple approaches for browsing through graphics files on any mounted disk from within Photoshop. Clicking on the File Browser tab brings up a folder-based heirarchy of your hard drive(s) which can be navigated by pop-up window, double clicking icons for drives and folders, or by list view with triangles to expand or contract folders.

Once you locate and open a folder containing images, each image opens as an amply-sized thumbnail in a scrollable list. Clicking once on a thumbnail displays file data; double–clicking opens the file and closes the File Browser. You won’t believe how much this one feature can streamline your work until you try it.
With the new painting engine, you can simulate traditional painting techniques such as wet and dry brush effects, charcoal and pastels. The Brushes options palette allows you to choose from dozens of presets, which include leaves and grass along with a multitude of more traditional brushes. You can also adjust a wide range of settings and save as custom brushes. Each preset brush is illustrated as both a dab and a stroke of the brush. You can also choose different canvas textures, or scan in your own.
Two new tools, the Patch tool and Healing Brush, are nothing short of miraculous. The two new tools occupy the space formerly taken by the Airbrush (now incorporated into the Brushes option bar). The Healing Brush works similarly to the Clone tool, but removes wrinkles, blemishes, scratches and dust while preserving the lighting, shading and texture of surrounding area. Photo retouching that used to take infinite skill and patience now happens almost effortlessly. The Patch tool allows you to perform similar healing functions on an area selected using the standard selection tools. Watching these two tools at work really is amazing.

New tools call for an updated tools palette. Tool icons now have shading and subtle dimension and - surprise! - moving your cursor over a tool changes it from gray scale to color.

ImageReady, the bundled software that handles web graphics, has been bumped up to version 7 to bring its numbering in line with Photoshop. ImageReady now supports transparency, offers better handling of rollovers, and includes a new, unified and simplified rollover palette.
Photoshop 7 incorporates enhanced security and automation features, including support for Applescript. A new Auto Color command removes color casts from photographs without adjusting contrast. The Pattern Maker plug-in, which I found initally confusing to use, is designed to create repeating patterns of elements like rocks, sand or grass from a selection of an image. Picture Package finally supports printing multiple images on one page, allowing you to print several different photos on a single full-sized sheet of photo paper. Finally, Photoshop 7 includes a built-in spell checker that works in multiple languages, corrects on one or all text layers, and allows for search and replace.

Minimal requirements for Photoshop 7 are a G3 with 192 MB available RAM and OS 9.1. It works well, albeit slowly, on my 266 MHz beige G3 with OS 9.1 and 320 MB RAM. But on my G4 Powerbook running OS 10.1.4, it flies. Photoshop 7 is a splendid upgrade to an incomparable application.

– Elsa Travisano
Adobe Photoshop 7.0
System Requirements: PowerPC G3, G4 or G4 dual processor; Mac OS 9.1, 9.2 or OS X 10.1.3; 128 MB of available RAM (192 MB recommended); 320 MB of available hard drive space; color monitor with 16-bit color or greater video card; 800x600 or greater monitor resolution; 1024x768 recommended; CD-ROM drive.

Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This article originally appeared in the May 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.