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Help with Remembering Things in Photoshop

No doubt about it — Photoshop is a complex program that requires you to learn a great deal in order to use to its full potential. Most users develop or collect various tricks and techniques to achieve what they are after, but remembering all that can be a challenge sometimes. Adobe thoughtfully provides a Help system, but it doesn't always have everything you wish it did. Thankfully, the let you add your own content. Here's how.

First, find your Photoshop installation folder. On most Windows systems, this will be at "C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2." On Mac OS, it will likely be "Macintosh HD:Applications:Adobe Photoshop CS2" Inside this, you should find a folder called "Help" which will in turn contain a subfolder called "additional how to content." If you're following along at home and there are files called Add_001.howto and Add_001.html in the folder you are looking at, you've made it to the right place. The content for each new Help menu entry you create will need to be placed in an html file in this folder and indexed by one of the howto files.

First, create an html file containing the information you want to add to the Help system. You can either create it from scratch or use the existing Add_001.html as a template. Be as creative as you wish.

Next, using your favorite text editor, open the Add_001.howto file. You should see the following text:

"How to Create How Tos" "Create your own How To tips" HowToInstructions.html

Photoshop uses the contents Add_001.howto and any other howto files to render additional items at the bottom of the Help menu. Each new Help menu item is created from each howto file entry.

The format of each line in a howto file consists of three parts, the category, the topic, and the name of the html file that contains the content for the topic — and html file like the one we made above. Thus, if a howto file contains:

"This is my category" "This is my topic" my_topic.html
"This is my category" "This is my other topic" my_other_topic.html

The Help menu will end up containing a new entry called "This is my category" with both of your new topics underneath. If Photoshop is running when you create your new files, you'll need to restart it in order for it to pick up your menu changes.

You can create any number of howto files, each with as many html file references in them as you need. Photoshop will read all your howto files when it starts up and sort everything in alphabetical order to build your Help menu additions.

If this sounds all good and well and you're up for another neat trick, you can actually replace the name of the html file in your howto file with a full URL to a webpage on the internet. For example, you might want to create a file called earthboundlight.howto containing, perhaps among other things, the following line (your web browser may spead it over more multiple lines here, but you should type it all together on one line):

"Earthbound Light PhotoTips" "This Week's Tip"

But only if you really want to of course....

Just a few ideas of what can be added to the Photoshop Help menu
Just a few ideas of what can be added to the Photoshop Help menu

Date posted: July 23, 2006


Copyright © 2006 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Related articles:
Coloring and Customizing Menus in Photoshop CS2

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