Working efficiently in the Adobe programs?

  1. How do I make sure I’m working as efficiently as possible in Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.? There are multiple different ways to do the same task but I want to make sure I’m using the fastest methods as often as possible. Is just working in the programs more and more and researching the fastest way to achieve a given task the best way to improve efficiency? I’m simply curious if there’s any other advice or tips to improve my efficiency in the applications.

  2. Where can I find the patch notes/what’s new from previous Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop updates? I know how to see the most current “What’s New” updates but is there any way to see additions from previous versions of the applications without going on YouTube?

The only answer to your question, I’m afraid, is experience. As you say, there are often many ways to achieve a similar result. Some are best suited to some jobs and others, other jobs. It also comes down to what suits you. We all have our own way of doing things. You just learn, over time, what works best for a given situation.


… but don’t ever try assembling a 237-page book with Photoshop.

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Oh, you can try it. Just don’t send it to me to print…

My advice would be to move so-called “efficiency” down your list of priorities. Efficiency is a measure of (machine) output over time, so yes, if you’re performing a repetitive series of “production” steps, by all means, find and learn the key combinations, eliminate time waste, etc., but when you’re designing—applying principles, making decisions, questioning yourself—you aren’t a machine, or acting in a machine-like way, hopefully, and the concept of efficiency isn’t applicable. Proficiency with the software helps you avoid wasting time in all aspects, but it could be argued that time spent learning techniques you don’t need would also constitute time wasted.

It always bugs me a bit when forum posters ask, “What’s the fastest way to achieve this?” The smartass in me always thinks, “By taking the time to post that here, you’ve already discarded ‘the fastest way’”. As you mentioned, there is always more than one way to attain a particular outcome, but speed alone shouldn’t always be the measure of favor. An artist can produce a particular effect using any one of 3 different brush types, but chooses the one that will perform best in the context of the work, not the one that will get it done 4 seconds earlier.

You can’t assemble a 237-page book with InDesign. Without blank pages.

I always struggle when explaining to clients why, for example, that extra last-minute paragraph or photo they added will bump up the page count in their saddle-stitched booklet from 16 to 20 and require a complete redo of the entire layout. The obvious doesn’t compute with them for some reason.

Get a new print quote. They’ll understand this.

Works every time.

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