Taking Notes in Photoshop
I'm betting that no one uses every feature built into Photoshop, except perhaps a few of the folks who work at Adobe developing or testing it. One of the features I only recently got turned onto is the Notes tool. If you've been wishing for a way to keep track of what you did or perhaps what you need to do to an image, Notes may be just what you're looking for.
With Notes, you can type whatever you need to and stick it to the relevant portion of your image for later reference. This could be details on what you did to part of an image or perhaps notes on something you might want to do to it in the future when you have more time. It could be thoughts on how you shot that image, or what you considered when you reviewed the results of your photo shoot and why you chose to edit this particular image. You might want to use Notes to remember precisely where a location is or what the weather was like, who else was with you on the trip, or just about anything else that strikes your fancy. You can create as many notes as you'd like and easily edit them or move them around later. When you don't need them, you can toggle the display of notes off completely so you can get down to working on your image without them getting in your way.
In Photoshop CS4 the icon for Notes is buried in the Tools panel under the Eyedropper. If you click on the eyedropper with your mouse and drag towards the right, you can see the other tools Adobe stacked on this spot. From the fly-out menu, click on the Notes tool icon to display the Options panel for this hidden gem.
There are only two main options for Notes: Author and Color. Since you will likely be the author of the notes you create, you should enter your name here. You may be tempted to not even bother, but doing so allows you to keep what you write separate from other notes if you ever send your Photoshop file to someone else for review or assistance. Color lets you determine how each Note icon looks placed on your image. At this point at least, I don't create so many notes that I color code them, but the feature is there if you need it.
Unless you do decide to change colors a lot, Photoshop CS4 actually provides an easier way to get on with the business of typing your deepest thoughts without even using the Notes icon in the Tools panel. Once your image has at least one note attached to it, Adobe thoughtfully adds a Notes icon to the Panel dock over on the right hand side of the default workspace. Clicking on it switches to the Notes tool just as surely as the hidden Notes icon in the Tools panel does.
To create a new Note, make sure the Notes tool is active and just click on your image where you want to place it. A fly-out Notes window will appear from the palette dock so you can begin typing. This same window appears if you click on an existing note. If the window seems small, don't worry. If you do fill it, scroll bars will appear when needed or, if you prefer, you can resize the window. As with any docked window you can also drag it out on its own to move it anywhere you'd like and make it as big as needed. If you create lots of notes, you can cycle through them using the forward and back arrows underneath the text area. To delete a note, click on the trashcan icon at the bottom of the notes widow. If you aren't actively using your notes, it's nice to be able to hide them. Adobe thoughtfully provided a menu option to do just this at View >> Show >> Notes. Using it toggles the Notes display of all notes on and off.
Notes aren't new to Photoshop CS4. Even though they gotten little attention, they have in fact been there for years. The layout of the Tools palette changes with each new version and if you're still using CS3 or an earlier release, Notes has its own square rather than sharing one as it does in CS4. Earlier versions also included an audio notes tool although that is gone now.
Notes can come in rather handy for keeping track of important information — much better than hunting for scraps of paper.