Aperture Tip - Interface Customization.

full.jpgI was actually working with Aperture on my beautiful new Macbook Pro unibody yesterday and rediscovered one of the joys of using the software. I never really forgot about it, I just had a renewed appreciation for it's wonderfulness. I thought I would share and reintroduce some of the subtle but really useful touches that Aperture provides that allow you to work more productively while we are all waiting for that Aperture 3/Aperture X goodness.

One of the things that I use all the time even on my giant displays is the ever useful "I" key. While nice on a giant monitor, it is a godsend on a laptop. Just hit the I key and the inspector panes go away. Hit "I" again and they are back. Really wonderful but wait there is more. Shift "I" moves the inspector panes from the left side of the screen to the right side and back. Not terribly useful but if you like it better on once side or the other you have a choice. Never underestimate the power of "liking it better", it can be the difference between one of the little things throughout the day that doesn't have to go against your grain. Sort of a feng-shui kind of thing.

A couple of other really nice touches that you may have forgotten about but can come in really handy are the ever not so popular Shift-W and Option-W. Shift-W, officially known as rotatehorz.jpg browser position takes the browser strip and swaps it from running horizontally to running vertically. Option-W, swap browser position, flips the browser strip from left to right or top to bottom. These two features in combination with the "I" and Shift-I work wonders on a laptop and are actually very useful on just about any monitor when maximizing screen real estate vert.jpgfor the job at hand - along with a healthy dose of personal preference.

Of course never forget the unsung heros of screen real estate maximization, "D" and Shift-D. The D key hides and shows the  "control bar". That way it isn't taking up any screen space when not in use, but more importantly it is not there bugging the living crap out of me. Even if you love the control bar, that doesn't mean it has to be there when you are not using it. Shift-D toggles the control bar between rating functions and keyword controls. Depending on what I am doing some times I use keyword controls andswap.jpg sometimes I use pre-assigned function key groups to keyword my images. When I am not key-wording it is not there taking up space and cluttering things up. I almost never use the rating function control bar, I use shortcut keys.

I have used the shortcut keys to describe some of Aperture's subtle but very nice UI customization features but they are also available under the View->Browser menu and the Window menu. I really like that this stuff is available via shortcut keys, it makes it really fast. Here is a tip that I have mentioned more than a few times to get to know the keyboard shortcuts - go to the menu and look at the shortcut. Instead of using the menu item actually use the key. This may cost you a little bit of time the first three or four times but the amount of wasted motion that it saves for the next 85,394 times will pay you back in a big way.

One other thing to remember about Aperture and the UI customization features, all the customization features for that matter. They are not checkboxes in the preferences dialog and they have shortcut keys for a good reason. This is not a matter of set it and forget it. You can really benefit both productivity wise and enjoyment wise by very very quickly tailoring Aperture to what you are doing right here and now - dynamically. When other more casual Aperture users see me use Aperture on my laptop using the "I", "W", Shift-W, etc they really  don't see me using the keys they just see Aperture transform itself to suit my desires in the blink of an eye. Without fail they ask me "how'd ya do that, I didn't know you could do that, cool"


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