Ten Features of Graphic Workshop Almost Nobody Knows About

One of the most mature applications on Earth, Graphic Workshop Professional can trace its ancestry back to 1986. It predates the Internet, iPods, digital cell phones and the births of a considerable portion of its current users.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it has acquired a considerable wealth of functionality in over two decades – so much so that almost nobody who uses it uses all of it.

The following are the ten most commonly asked-for features in Graphic Workshop… that are already there.

  • Folder refresh: If you add files with another application to a folder that Graphic Workshop has a browser window pointed to, your Graphic Workshop browser window won’t know the new files are there, and they won’t appear as thumbnails. You can manually refresh a browser to make it see new files added behind its back – either right-click in the browser in question and select Refresh, or hold down your Shift key and click on the Folder button in the Graphic Workshop tool bar.
  • Add thumbnails where needed: If you have Graphic Workshop configured to maintain its thumbnails on disk, you’ll probably encounter folders in which a few files, having been added by other applications, that don’t display thumbnails. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on the blue Select All button in the Graphic Workshop tool bar. Thumbnails will be created for just those files that don’t current have them.
  • Process files over multiple sub-folders: If you have multiple folders on your hard drive that you’d like to convert graphics from, resize graphics from or otherwise batch process pictures in without having to point a browser to each one, click on the Search button in the Graphic Workshop tool bar. The Search function can be used to search for graphic files in and below a specified folder, and having found them, apply the same batch processes as are available in the conventional Graphic Workshop tool bar.
  • Preview web page background tiles: Graphic Workshop can show you a small graphic tiled over your entire screen, so you can see what prospective web page background images will look like at work without having to build them into HTML documents. Just double-click on the graphic you’d like to check out and select Tile from the Graphic Workshop View mode picture menu.
  • ART file support: Users of AOL – and perhaps more importantly, former users of AOL – often find themselves confronted by graphics in the ART format that they can’t access. Graphic Workshop will convert ART files to more conventional graphic files, such as JPEG and PNG. The only catch in doing so is that the ART functionality for Graphic Workshop is maintained as a no cost downloadable plugin, rather than in the application itself. You’ll need to install the plugin before Graphic Workshop will recognize ART files.
  • Slide show: You can have Graphic Workshop automatically display a selection of images without human intervention, changing its pictures all by itself. Select the graphics you’d like to include in your slide show from a Graphic Workshop browser window, click on the View button in the tool bar – the Binoculars button – and select the Slide icon from the menu that appears. The Slide Show dialog will allow you to configure a number of options for your slide show, including the time between images, the matt color for the slide show window and how the graphic titles should be displayed.
  • Interactive image filters: If you double-click on a graphic to view it in Graphic Workshop, you can also apply a huge library of image processing filters. Click on the Gear button in the View mode tool bar, or select Filters from the Picture menu to access the Filters function. The interactive filters will fine tune your graphics, allow you to rotate them in increments as small as 1/10th of one degree, resize them, color-adjust them or instantly transport them to an alternate universe. Click on Help in the Filters dialog for a detailed explanation of what the filters do. Once you’ve applied a filter to a graphic in View mode, you can save your changes with the Save or Save As functions of the Picture menu.
  • Create textures: Graphic Workshop can create realistic textured surfaces, abstract art and rectangular bits of science fiction – select Textures and Fractals from its Image menu. Most of the texture models supported by the Textures and Fractals function can be seamless – you can use them to create background tiles for your web pages. The Tile function of Graphic Workshop’s View mode, discussed earlier in this post, will let you see how your creations look as tiled surfaces.
  • Windows screen capture: Graphic Workshop comes with an ancillary application called GWS Camera that will capture all or part of your Windows desktop and applications running therein to a graphic file. To activate GWS Camera, select it from the Window menu of Graphic Workshop, or from the Start -> Programs -> Graphic Workshop Professional menu. You can configure GWS Camera to capture your whole screen, the current active window or the client thereof, and to store its captures anywhere you like. It also has an optional timer, such that you can activate it and not have it capture anything for several seconds. This is a useful feature if you need to arrange some menus or other on-screen phenomena that would be disturbed by a key press.
  • Automatic zoom selection: By default, the Graphic Workshop View mode will show you the graphics you double-click on as they really are – what Graphic Workshop refers to as 100 percent zoom. You can zoom in or out with the magnifying glass buttons in the View mode tool bar. If you work with images having a variety of sizes, you might find it easier to have Graphic Workshop automatically select a zoom factor for you whenever you double-click on a graphic, so your pictures always fill the display window. To enable this option, click on the Wrench button in the Graphic Workshop tool bar, select the Display tab and set the Default View Zoom combo to Zoom to Fill.

The most useful of Graphic Workshop’s rarely-used features is the ? button in its tool bar. Click on it to open the Graphic Workshop Manual document and you’ll find all manner of things you never knew it could do.

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