Looking For Free Help To Speed Up Your Production Workflow? Look No Further Than Adobe Exchange

Looking For Free Help To Speed Up Your Production Workflow? Look No Further Than Adobe Exchange Whenever I lead a training even related to some type of Adobe application, I always end with a lesson on how to download free scripts, plug-ins and other helpers from Adobe Exchange.

Adobe Exchange has been around for a long time. It seems like it used to be called Studio Exchange in the old (longer than three years) days. But whatever you call it, it’s a great resource for anyone who uses an Adobe product and, let’s face it, that’s just about everyone.

To get to Adobe Exchange, go to Adobe.com and click on the “Downloads” menu at the top of the desktop. Once in the Downloads area, move to the bottom right corner, near the bottom of the right sidebar, and click on Exchanges.

- Inside Adobe Exchange -

Once you enter the Exchange area, you will be greeted with a list of Adobe products. You’ll find all your favorites. Click on InDesign, Photoshop or one of the other application names and you’ll be taken to its corresponding page on the Adobe website.

Once there, notice the list of options on the sidebar. Select “Scripts” or “Plug-ins” in the InDesign Exchange or “Actions” or “Filters” in the Photoshop Exchange. You’ll see other choices as well, but these are the ones that interest me the most.

Once you’ve selected a category, look on the left side of the page and find a “License Type” button. Click on it and select “Freeware.” This will save you from looking at the commercial software which is also found in the Exchange areas.

Finally, just above the License Type button, you’ll see options for “Staff Picks,” “Most Recent,” “Most Popular” and “Highest Rated.” Select either “Most Popular” or “Highest Rated” and you will be greeted with a list of free plug-ins, scripts, actions and filters for both Macs and PCs.

Below are a few of my favorite downloads from Adobe Exchange:

- Film Machine is a Photoshop action that produces six different flat and curled filmstrips using an image. It’s a quick and fun way to create a different look for a photo.

- Calendar Wizard may be my favorite InDesign script on Adobe Exchange. With Calendar Wizard, the user simply draws a text from and double-clicks on the script in the Scripts palette. Several options are available to create just the calendar you want. Begin weeks on Sunday or Monday. Include government holidays or thoseassociated with various religions. Create a calendar with one to 12 months. So many options.

- Proper Fractions is an InDesign script that creates great fractions for most fonts without any tweaking. While Open Type fonts have the ability to create nice fractions on the fly, Proper Fractions creates these fractions using Open Type, Type One or TrueType fonts.

- Tab Utilities is a handy little InDesign script that speeds up the process of creating perfect tabs, when an ordinary tab won’t do.

- Touch-Up is a Photoshop Plug-in that will help you get a grasp on Adobe’s Configurator. Configurator is an application that works with Adobe Air, which is part of the CS4, CS5 and CS5.5 suites. Touch-Up is a Photoshop panel, one of those windows we used to call palettes. Touch-Up combines many of the tools we use in Photoshop into one simple panel, which means you won’t be spending all that time working your way through the menus on your desktop. This one only works with Photoshop CS4, CS5 and CS5.5, however.

- Heck, I even got so excited about all the downloads available on Exchange that I submitted my own in the midst of writing this column. Look for my name to find “Kevin’s Tools PS,” a panel (the new name for palettes) with buttons for most of the tools newspaper designers use on a regular basis in Photoshop. For users of Photoshop CS5 and higher, this “Flash Panel” can be installed and placed with the other panels on the right side (or any other area) of your screen. You’ll need to use Configurator, the application mentioned earlier, to install the panel. Once installed, Kevin’s Tools PS is a permanent addition to your Photoshop application.

Kelli Bultena, publisher of the Tea (SD) Weekly, was my first guinea pig. After installing Kevin’s Tools on her system, she said the new panel works great. Thanks, Kelli.

As you can see, I get a little excited about Adobe Exchange. After all, who doesn’t get excited about free stuff. And all of us use some Adobe products. For more information about Exchange, go to Adobe.com and click on the Downloads menu. If you’d like a copy of Kevin’s Tools PS before it is available on Exchange, contact me by email and I’ll be glad to send you a copy.

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