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15 Useful Photoshop Plugins You Should Not Miss

15 Useful Photoshop Plugins You Should Not Miss

Anybody who is into image editing probably knows their way around Photoshop. Indeed, it is one of the most ubiquitous names in the design industry, especially for those who are graphic artists or otherwise in the business of creating fantastic pieces of art for one reason or another.

I myself have not been a heavy user of Photoshop since CS2. Still, I have kept up with it as it has evolved over the years, and thus am familiar with most of its capabilities. The current version is incredibly powerful, capable of doing more than I could ever imagine when I used it for graphic design purposes in 2006.

That said, there will still be times when the vanilla version of Photoshop won’t do exactly what you need it to do. This is where plugins come in. Plugins are, for those unacquainted, essentially small bits of additional software that add to Photoshop’s functionality.

Here are fifteen that should be particularly useful in almost any project.

1. CSS Hat ($34.99)

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    CSS Hat is, to put it succinctly, the web designer’s dream. What it allows you to do is take one of your layers, and transform it into CSS3 code. This basically means you can copy your designs from Photoshop and paste them into your website.

    2. Flaticon (free)

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      If you need to insert some sort of vector-based icon into your designs, Flaticon is for you. It is essentially a database of free-to-use icons, which you can access in Photoshop by downloading the plugin.

      3. Pixel Dropr ($19)

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        Pixel Dropr is great if you are working on a project that requires the use of many of the same assets. So, for instance, if you are working on five separate projects in Photoshop, you can use Pixel Dropr to transfer up to 100 “icons, buttons, UI kits, or photos” from one project to another. As you might imagine, this saves a lot of time in the long run.

        4. Silver EFEX Pro 2 (free trial)

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          Silver EFEX Pro 2 is great if you want a simple, non-time consuming way to create beautiful black and white images. It’s like an advanced version of a filter you might find on Instagram. As such, it comes packed with a number of advanced controls that experts can use to get the best black and white images possible.

          5. Fractlius ($39.90)

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            Fractalius is a plugin that allows you to easily create interesting works of art out of normal everyday images. What it does is extract the “hidden fractal texture” within a picture, allowing you to reveal certain eccentricities that weren’t visible before.

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            6. Exposure 7 (free trial)

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              Exposure 7 is a straightforward plugin with a single purpose: to make digital images appear as though they were originally captured in an analog manner. As such, you have several options to add film-esque effects, such as scratches, grain, and other finishes.

              7. Machine Wash Deluxe ($99)

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                Machine Wash Deluxe accomplishes a simple task: it takes your clean designs and applies a kind of weathering effect, giving it a more aged and worn-in look. It works best when used with basic typography, but can also be applied to more complicated works of art as well.

                8. Blow Up 3 (free trial)

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                  Ever find an image you want to use but discover that it’s too low of a resolution, causing weird graphical artifacts to show up when you try to enlarge it? Blow Up 3 tries to solve that problem by making it so that images maintain their graphical integrity as you enlarge them.

                  9. Noiseware ($79.95)

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                    Noiseware is a powerful tool used to clean images that are contaminated by an unusual amount of “noise,” which are basically elements within an image that reduce its clarity. This plugin lets you remove these, giving you a sharper final product.

                    10. Portraiture ($199.95)

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                      Portraiture is a plugin that’s targeted towards smoothing skin. What makes it special is that it is able to remove blemishes like acne scars without tampering with details like skin texture and hair. The end result is that you get a much more realistic image than if you tried to manually remove acne with something like the clone-stamp tool.

                      11. Cut & Slice Me (free)

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                        Despite its lighthearted name, Cut & Slice Me is quite useful for those of you who need a free and easy way to transfer your Photoshop designs to your website. As its name suggests, you can direct the plugin to cut out layers of your design, and export those assets to wherever you need them online.

                        12. GuideGuide (free)

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                          GuideGuide is a free plugin that allows you to create an Excel-like grid in Photoshop, making it easy to design web layouts. What it really does is ensure that your creations are mathematically proportional.

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                          13. CSS3PS (free)

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                            CSS3PS uses cloud computing to take your layers and turn them into segments of CSS3 code. This means you can easily transfer certain works, as well as any effects you may have applied to them (like drop-shadows), to your website. This tool is far easier to use than the export tool included in Photoshop, and, best of all, it is free.

                            14. Wire Worm (free)

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                              Wire Worm accomplishes the the incredibly useful task of removing distracting telephone cables from your pictures. Thus, it makes it much easier to appreciate whatever it is you captured on film without having to deal with a jungle of wires obscuring your vision.

                              15. SuperPNG (free)

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                                SuperPNG makes up for one of Photoshop’s deficiencies, which is that it has a hard time processing PNGs in a timely fashion. This plugin allows you to manage your PNG images in a more hands-on manner, allowing you to edit them so that they are rendered by Photoshop much more rapidly.

                                Are you a heavy Photoshop user? Did these plugins help you accomplish tasks in a more effective manner? Let me know in the comments!

                                Featured photo credit: Using Photoshop To Remove Acne/ Bark via flickr.com

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                                Published on October 9, 2018

                                Evernote vs OneNote: Which Improves Your Productivity Better?

                                Evernote vs OneNote: Which Improves Your Productivity Better?

                                Note-taking is useful in helping improve your memory and increase your productivity at work. By writing down notes, you have something tangible you can refer back to, remember what needs to be done, and regain control of your work throughout the day.

                                There are thousands of different note-taking apps you can use on your desktop or mobile device. The two most popular are Evernote and Microsoft OneNote because they are incredibly efficient and effective that each has a following of extremely loyal users and advocates.

                                So if it comes to Evernote vs OneNote, how do they improve productivity?

                                An overview of Evernote and OneNote

                                First, an introduction to the two platforms. Evernote is an app that lets you store content, take down notes, write lists, and organize all of them. While these are stored in Notebooks, the whole concept behind this productivity app is more like a Universal Inbox where you can save everything you’ve collected so you can quickly find it when you need them through the use of tags.

                                Microsoft’s OneNote, on the other hand, works very much like a digital version of the notebooks you used to carry around in school. Aside from storing all your notes and different types of content you’ve collected, you can also organize them into sections, pages, and containers.

                                Each of these apps offers their users a host of features to help them improve their productivity and memory. Also, because no app is perfect, each also has their strengths and limitations.

                                To get a better idea of which app will be your best choice, we’ll be comparing the two based on three key features most used by their users: collecting information, note-taking, and mobility.

                                Collecting information

                                Both the OneNote and Evernote come with their own web clipper extension that allows you to quickly collect and store information from different websites as you find them.

                                Both give you the option to choose whether you’d like to save the entire web page as is, a simplified version without the ads, or just a section of the page. You can also add some notes before saving them to make it easier for you to remember why you “clipped” that particular resource.

                                Since OneNote gives you more structure to organize your content, its web clipper allows you to choose not just which notebook to save the details, but also what section within the notebook.

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                                  Source: OneNote.com

                                  Evernote gives you the option to add tags to your web clippings before you save it, so it’s easier for you to search for it later.

                                  Premium users get access to Evernote’s Related Results feature located in its Options section. When you search on Google, Evernote will launch a secondary search that will show all the notes related to the keyword you used in searching for information.

                                    Source: Zapier.com

                                    This feature, according to Jeremy Skillings, President of Youcanbefound.com, is beneficial because it lets you know what information you already have stored in your notes.

                                    “In some cases whenever I do my research, I find out through this feature that I already have the exact information I need stored in my Evernote account. That alone cuts back a significant amount of the time I spend on projects.”

                                    Note-taking

                                    Both of these productivity apps allow you to create and format your notes to create rich documents. Among these features include changing the font size and color, adding tables, and inserting media files.

                                    Evernote’s note-taking features are very similar to a Word document in that it’s very structured concerning how you input your notes.

                                      Professionals who need to be able to build and access well-structured docs in the field make up much of Evernote’s loyal fanbase. One such 2-year user in the real estate field, Anthony Gilbert of RealFX.com, liked the formatting options, but admitted that there were still some downsides to the rigidly formatted approach.

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                                      While he enjoyed the features, his personal experience with using it in the field revealed that the formatting features,“mean that if you need to change parts of your notes around, it can get tedious”. He continued, “the formatting features are quite finicky, so you may need a bit of patience to get the end results you are looking for.”

                                      Professionals who need to be able to build and access well-structured docs in the field make up much of Evernote’s loyal fanbase. One such 2-year user in the real estate field, Anthony Gilbertof RealFX.com, liked the formatting options, but admitted that there were still some downsides to the rigidly formatted approach.

                                      Structuring your notes properly from the get-go can have an effect on your productivity. A blank slate can sometimes be puzzling. Evernote allows the ability to use battle-tested templates and workflows that save you time. They can provide inspiration and structure on what’s possible.

                                      On the other hand, OneNote gives its users more versatility and flexibility in the way notes are created. You can click at any area of the page and begin typing. If you need to move things around, you can drag and drop sections of your notes to the right place.

                                      On the other hand, OneNote gives its users more versatility and flexibility in the way you create your notes. You can click at any area of the page and begin typing. If you need to move things around, you can drag and drop sections of your notes to the right place.

                                        Source: Lifehacker

                                        Also, it gives you the option to create Templates that you can use to layout your page properly, so all you’ll need to do is to fill in the information.

                                          Source: MakeUseOf

                                          This is a particularly handy feature that stood out to many of the people who shared their love of OneNote with me. Steve Lionais, longtime user and Co-Founder & CEO of Dr-Bill.ca, claims that this feature helped him build his business by affecting his memory in a powerful and helpful way.

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                                          “This [feature] is what makes OneNote great memory retention app,” he said of the templates. “I find that I remember things more when they are arranged in a certain way. OneNote allowed me to do that for my meeting and presentation notes, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find the next point!”

                                          However, what really makes OneNote the winner of this round is its ability to allow you to embed media files from other sources like Youtube. In addition to including the link, OneNote launches a media player, allowing you to watch the video or listen to the audio file directly from the page where you saved it.

                                            Source: Windows Central

                                            Mobility

                                            Evernote and OneNote can be used both on desktops and mobile devices. At the same time, they provide their users with the ability to sync the content from one device to the other.

                                            Judging which of the two productivity apps is best here is quite tricky because it greatly depends on several factors. One of these is the operating software you use.

                                            Many of the power users we asked were using iOS, and that put some points toward Evernote. Greg Reese of AmeriEstate.com found himself frequently using the built-in camera option (and other iOS integrations) to manage his daily duties as President.

                                              Evernote’s camera also integrates with Post-It, Moleskin notebook pages, and business cards. When you take a photo of any of these, the camera will capture the information and format this for Evernote so that it’s quick to find it when you search.

                                              OneNote, on the other hand, dominates the Android environment. In addition to the app, Android users will also find a OneNote floating badge on the side of the home screen. So you can take notes on the go very quickly.

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                                                Source: MS Power User

                                                Another factor to consider is the cloud storage you use. For you to sync OneNote across different devices, you’ll need to first set up an account with OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage service.

                                                “This is something that Evernote users like me don’t have to worry about,” according to Matt Willens, Head Attorney for Willens Law Offices. “Whether you use a free account or one of their paid plans, you can immediately sync your devices without having to get a separate cloud storage account.”

                                                The drawback here is the amount of storage and number of devices that you can sync. Free users are only given 60MB of storage space and can sync up to two devices. If you need more storage space, you’ll have to get the paid plans.

                                                Which app is better for improving memory and productivity?

                                                The honest—and most straightforward—answer is:

                                                It depends on you.

                                                While Evernote and OneNote have their strengths and weaknesses, how well it will help improve productivity and memory greatly depends on what works best for you.

                                                If you find that you’re able to work best and remember things more using visual cues, OneNote will be the best productivity app to use. However, if you consider the speed and ease of finding the information you need as your top priority, Evernote will be your best option.

                                                Since both productivity apps have free versions, you can give both a try and see where you’re most comfortable. In the end, the right productivity app to use is one that complements the way you work and do things rather than dictating to you how you should get them done.

                                                Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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