How To Backup Photoshop Settings Like A Pro:

by Gavin Seim: I had a call recently from a photographer who lost all her preferences, settings and actions because of a crash. For some reason Photoshop lost all it’s preferences and went back to default. The thing is, PS is not meant to hold all our settings permanently. You need to have them backed up. The key is being prepared so when something’s lost, you can take it in stride. Today I’m going to tell you how to do it. Remember that once you’ve stored these settings, re-loading them is as simple as double clicking the file. Click the images to get larger illustrated views as we go along.

1: Give Them A Home:
First, decide where you’ll be backing up your settings. Be it a folder on your hard drive, a CD/DVD or an offsite storage service. Wherever it is find a consistent place that will be separate up from your main computer should you have a total crash.

2: Archive your actions:
Photoshop is not a place to store actions. When you download a new action don’t just load it in the actions palette and expect it to stay there. PS will retain the actions so long as the preference to keep it loaded remains. Also deleting an action in PS does not actually delete the file, it just removes it from the action palette. As long as you have your action files safely stored you’re good. But, if you load an action, and then delete the file expecting PS to retain it forever, your doom is sealed.

I like to make a “favorite actions” set that I store with my other actions. This way all my commonly used actions are in one set that I can load fast. I keep it in PS all the time, but it’s backed up should I have a crash. My other actions are nearby as well, but I load them only occasionally since all my favorites are in one set. You can do this by making a new action set (folder) within PS, then drag your favorite actions into it from other sets, then save your favorites set in a safe place.

2: Saving Brushes & More With Preset Manger.
In PS go to Edit/Preset Manager. A window will pop up that contains a dropdown to select your brushes, swatches, gradients, styles, contours, patterns, custom shapes or tools. If you have any custom settings for any of these it’s as simple as going to the manager, selecting what you want to manage and saving the set to your backup location.

3: Backing Up Keyboard Shortcuts:
Keyboard shortcuts can save a ton of time, and once you set up custom ones you’ll want them to be there.¬† I for example set CMD+F to flatten since I use it so often. If I get on a machine that does not have the setting, I quickly miss it. All you need do is go to up to the menu and choose Edit/Keyboard Shortcuts. Slick the save icon, and save the current shortcuts in a file. Now you can easily load it on any machine by simply loading the saved file.

Power User Tricks:
There’s more you can backup than what’s on the surface of PS. Workspaces¬† for example control the location of your palette’s and menus. Most know that you can save workspace by simply going to Window/Worskpaces. Thing is, there’s not really a built in method of exporting those workspaces for backup. To do this we have to talk about the Power User method.

Outside of Photoshop, go to your application (programs) folder and find Photoshop. We’re using CS3 for this, but it should be similar with other versions. Inside the PS folder look for the Presets folder, and inside that you’ll find stuff like Workspaces, and all kinds of other settings. You can just copy and paste things from here, to your backup and be good to go.

Photoshop CS4 Notes: (UPDATE)
Most locations are the same in CS4. At the moment it looks like the only difference if the Workspaces location. Rather than being inside the folder that contains Photoshop it’s found in these locations. Location information for other settings in CS4 can be found here.

Mac… Users/[Username]/Library/Preferences/Adobe Photoshop CS4 Settings/WorkSpaces
Vista… Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4/Adobe Photoshop CS4 Settings/Workspaces
XP… Documents and Settings/[Username]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4/Adobe Photoshop CS4 Settings/Workspaces