PI5 Quick Command Panel

The Quick Command Panel (QCP) is a great way to automate frequently performed tasks. Choose from preset tasks (like opening a file or the Image Optimizer), or create your own. Similar to a word processing macro, you can record a sequence of tasks, save them, then play the task anytime you want to. One mouse click does it all! PI 5.0 has added some awesome new preset tasks to the QCP that you'll want to try, too.

This tutorial starts by showing you how to display the QCP in the work space. Then we'll record and play several increasingly complex tasks so you can see for yourself how useful (and powerful) the QCP can be. The tasks we'll create include automatically opening a 200 X 200 pixel new image, creating and saving a custom JPG preset in the Image Optimizer, and a two-step task of resizing and focusing a large image. Then just for fun we'll try some of the fabulous presets already created for you by PI 5.0! 

Before we get started, it's important to know that you must have an image open in the work space for the QCP options to be available.

I'll be using this photo of my kids and nephew, shown in reduced size at left. You can use your own photo, or use this one at full size.

half size image

To display the QCP, choose View, Toolbars & Panels. When the dialog box opens, select Quick Command Panel.  I leave it open all the time in the work space. When you need room, just double click on the blue title bar to minimize it, then double click to display it again.

The QCP has two tabs. The Task tab contains a number of preset tasks. Components of the preset tasks can be deselected. The red dot is the Record button, the right arrow is the Play button, and the the small square next to it (grayed out) is the Stop recording button. You can add your own custom-created tasks to this tab.

QCP, Task tab

The Cache tab contains commands you have used recently. Click in the square next to a task to "lock" it, so that it will remain in the Cache. For example, often I copy selections into the Clipboard to create new images. Instead of having to choose Edit, Paste, As a New Image, I can just double click on the "As a New Image (Edit/Paste)" task. The Clipboard contents will open immediately in a new window in the work space.

QCP, Cache tab

Let's start by creating a simple task, opening a new 200 X 200 pixel image with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch and a white canvas.

From the Task tab, click on "Task Menu Commands," the little icon with the checkmark. From the dropdown list, choose New.

Creating a new task

When the New box opens, enter a name for the new task (e.g., "New200"). If you want to, add a Comment to remind you of what the command does.

Click on the Record button to begin recording the task.

naming the new task

Stay focused on what you're doing because every command you select now will be included in the task. Choose File, New. When the New box opens, in the User-defined section make a 200 X 200 pixel image. Select white for the canvas color and 72 pixels per inch for the resolution. Click OK. The new 200 X 200 pixel image will open in the work space. In the QCP, click on the Stop button (the small blue square) to stop recording.

The "New200" task should be at the top of the list of tasks in the Task tab, as shown below.

task added to QCP

To see how it works, make sure the task is selected and click on the Play button. The new 200 X 200 image will open up right in the work space, automatically.

preset properties selectedIn the screen shot above, you'll notice the little symbol shown at left with a line through it. It means that the options associated with this task are preset, e.g., set to 200 X 200 pixels, white canvas, 72 dpi.

preset properties deselectedIf you wanted to open a new image 300 X 300 pixels, you could right click on the symbol to deselect "Use Preset Properties." Doing so opens the New box and you can enter different options for the new file.

Now that you understand the basics of recording a task, or macro, we can make one that's a little more complex. Something I often do is save JPG images at 75% Quality, in Standard Optimized mode. It's a lot of steps to set all of the options exactly as I want them each time I open up the Image Optimizer.

To create a macro that will automate this task, first let's create our own Image Optimizer preset. Make sure an image is open in the work space and choose Web, Image Optimizer. When the dialog box opens, set the Mode to Standard Optimized, Quality=75. Now click on the Add button.

adding your own preset

After clicking Add, a dialog box will open. Give the preset a name you'll remember easily, in my case "SBTPreset," as shown below. Click the Add button to create the preset.

naming the preset

After doing so, the preset will appear in the Image Optimizer's JPG Preset dropdown list.

custom preset added

Let's create a task, or macro, in the QCP, so that we can open the Image Optimizer and have the preset selected automatically.

In the QCP,  click on "Task Menu Commands," and choose New. When the dialog box opens, enter a name for the task (e.g., "JPGSave75"), and a description that will help you remember what the task does.

creating another task for preset

With an image open in the work space, click on the Record button. Choose Web, Image Optimizer. When the dialog box opens, use the JPG option and select your preset. Click Save As and save the image to your Desktop, or somewhere else where you can find it and delete it easily later. You have to follow through on actually saving the image for the task to work. After you name and save the image, click the Stop button in the QCP.

The JPGSave75 task should be at the top of the task list. To see how it works, click on the Play button. The Image Optimizer will open with the custom preset already selected. Click Cancel.

playing the JPGSave75 task

From now on, any time you have an image you want to save as a JPG at 75% compression, all you have to do is select the JPGSave75 task and hit the Play button to open the Image Optimizer with your custom settings selected.

One thing that I do over and over again is reduce the size of very large images by half. Then I have to re-focus the image to restore detail. Let's create a task to automate this process.

In the QCP, click on the "Task Menu Commands," and choose New. When the dialog box opens, enter a name for the task (e.g., "Halfsize&Focus"), and a description that will help you remember what the task does. Click the Record button.

making a two step task

Choose Format, Dimensions. When the Dimensions dialog box opens, choose "User-defined." Select "Keep aspect ratio" and make the Width and Height 50%. Click OK.

step 1: resize

Now choose Format, Focus. When the Focus dialog box opens, either choose one of the Quick Samples thumbnails, or click the Options box to do some fine-grained tweaking, as I did below. Click OK.

step 2: focus

Click the Stop button in the QCP.

The Halfsize&Focus task appears at the top of the task list. To see how it works, return to the image in the work space. Choose Edit, Undo To, Dimensions. Doing so will restore it to its original size.

playing the task

Make sure the Halfsize&Focus task is selected, then click the Play button. You'll see the Dimensions and Focus processes applied to the image automatically. Leave the image at halfsize for the next step.

Finally, let's try out some of the presets already created for you in the PI 5.0 QCP.

One that is truly amazing is the Painting On The Wall preset. It performs all of the commands shown at left. Remember, when there's a little icon with a line through it, you can right click to edit the preset properties.

picture on the wall preset

Select Painting On the Wall from the dropdown list. Right click on the Expand icon and choose Properties. You'll see that the default Expand is 300 pixels in all 4 directions, with a white canvas. That expansion a bit large for this reduced-size image.

Enter a value of 150 instead. Since the expansion is "locked," you only have to put the number in one place and it will be added to all 4 sides. Click OK.

editing expand properties

In the QCP, click on the Play button. Before your very eyes, all of the steps in the t

Just for fun, let's try one more of the presets. Go to your original image and choose Edit, Undo Before, Select All to cancel out the Painting On The Wall task you just applied.

In the QCP, choose Pointilize Effect. Click the Play button and watch what happens!

Pointilize Effect preset

ask will be applied without your lifting a finger! The incredible results are shown below.

Painting On A Wall preset

This task works best with images that have lots of darks, creating a posterized, sketched effect. Be sure to try the rest of the presets, too!

One last thing you should know about the QCP is that you can use Batch Task to apply a task, or macro, to an entire folder full of images.

original image, full size


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