The Small Stuff
The rest of Photoshop 7's changes are minor modifications. Some are intended to address user complaints and suggestions; others advance Adobe's mission to expand promising technologies. Here are a few of the new Photoshop's highlights:
Spelling Checker If you create a lot of text in Photoshop, you'll appreciate the addition of the Check Spelling command, which is identical to the same command in other Adobe applications. In addition, you can now search for and replace text.
Liquify Introduced in Photoshop 6, the Liquify filter lets you distort an image by twisting or stretching its pixels. Version 7 brings some nice improvements to this filter--for example, the ability to zoom and scroll inside the Liquify dialog box, save a distortion grid for use on another image, and take advantage of unlimited undos. To get a better sense of how your distortion will fit in with the rest of your image, you can view other layers within the Liquify dialog box.
Auto Color The quick-fix commands Auto Levels and Auto Contrast correct the lightest and darkest colors in an image, but they scrupulously avoid the midtones. In Photoshop 7, Adobe introduces the Color command, which attempts to automatically correct an image's gamma values and remove color casts.
Blend Modes Photoshop 7 offers five new Blend modes, which let you mix the colors in brushstrokes and layers to create custom dissolves and other effects. To help minimize confusion, Blend modes are now organized more logically than they were in previous versions, with all modes that lighten an image in one group and all that darken an image in another.
Renaming Layers To rename a layer in Photoshop 6, you had to option-double-click on it. Photoshop 7 finally lets you rename a layer directly inside the Layers palette simply by clicking on it. The same is also true for channels and paths.
Better Eyedropper You can now sample any color visible on screen by dragging it from the image window into the background. This means that you no longer need to copy and paste a color from, say, Adobe Illustrator; you can sample it without ever leaving Photoshop.
Visible Transformation Handles When you applied a transformation to a very large layer in Photoshop 6, the transformation handles sometimes extended outside the visible area of the window, meaning that you had to zoom way out to see what you were doing. Transformation handles now behave as they did in the old days; they're always visible inside the window.
Pattern Maker Photoshop 7 lets you use repeating patterns as textures, useful for emulating paper or canvas effects. The program will ship with predefined patterns, and you can use the Pattern Maker filter to create your own. This filter saves time by automatically generating multiple complex patterns from a selected portion of an image, but there's no way to paint or edit the patterns.
Picture Package Whereas previous versions of the Picture Package command let you print multiple copies of a single photo on one page, Photoshop 7 lets you combine multiple photos--great when you're trying to make the most of expensive coated ink-jet paper stock. You can also label the pictures, although you have little control over the label's position on the page.
PDF Passwords When saving Photoshop documents as annotated PDF images for viewing in Adobe Acrobat, you can now assign passwords and disable printing or copying. This is particularly useful when you are distributing photos from a Web site for approval.
WebDAV Like many of Adobe's applications, Photoshop 7 lets you check out and edit files from a WebDAV server, even if that server isn't located on the local network.