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Photoshop plugins load into Photoshop\’s Filter menu when Photoshop launches. They add all sorts of extra functions to Photoshop. In the old days Photoshop plugins were just a bunch of weird effects.. Today, however, we find on the market a number of plugins that do very sophisticated image retouching that would otherwise have been difficult or time consuming in Photoshop. Photoshop has since begun to offer functions similar to some of the old plugins, like lens correction and proper black-white conversion.
It is easy to install plugins into Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop installs with a folder called Plug-Ins inside the Photoshop folder. Simply place the plugins there. Next time you launch Photoshop, the menu Filters will have your new plugins as an entry. If you had Photoshop running, when you installed the new plugins, you will have to shut and relaunch Photoshop to see the new plugins. Actually you don\’t have to install the plugin into Photoshop\’s Plug-Ins folder. Follow these guidelines to install plugins in any folder you like:
1. First make sure you have an alternative plugins folder. Create it where ever you like and call it what you will.. 2. Launch Photoshop. 3. Go to the menu Edit and open it. Go to the bottom of the Edit menu to Preferences. This will load the Preferences sub menu. 4. Plug-Ins might be called \”Plug-Ins and Scratch Disk\” depending on your Photoshop version. Go there. 5. Check Additional Plug-Ins Folder to activate it. 6. Use the Choose button to browse to your alternative plugins folder.
That\’s it! You now have an alternative plugins folder where you can store all your personal plugins. Exit the preferences and relaunch Photoshop. When you relaunch Photoshop, the menu Filters will have the plugins in your alternative plugins folder listed at the bottom of the menu.
Plugins generally fall into two categories: 1. Retouching plugins. 2. Effects plugins. Retouching plugins tend to manipulate what is already in the photo without adding anything new. On the other hand, effects plugins add, well, effects to the photograph. Retouching examples could be sharpening, exposure or saturation. Examples of effects plugins could be lens flare, bokeh or raster. Of course there are cross overs. Is lens correction a retouch or an effect, for example? It is a retouch if you correct barreling or pincushion, but if you make a regular image look like a fish eye shot, it is an effect.
The history of plugins goes back to Photoshop v 2, in 1991, when support for third party plugins was introduced. Three years later Joe Ternasky released Filter Factory for writing third party plugins. Three years after Filter Factory appeared, Alex Hunter released Filter Meister as an improvement over Filter Factory. Many of today\’s plugins are written in Filter Meister. Ten years after Filter Meister was released, a novel approach to filter development was released as Filter Forge. Filter Forge does not build stand alone plugins, but only plugins that run within Filter Forge. Filter Meister plugins are currently only for 32 bit Photoshop, but the developer, Alex Hunter, promises 64bit support will be released some time 2013. Filter Meister is only for Windows.