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Adding Adjustments to Your Default Set of Tools

PhotoJoseph's picture
January 22, 2014 - 9:00pm

The default Adjustment set in Aperture allows you to do the most common adjustments, but there are many more tools that you have access to. Other than the default White Balance, Exposure, Enhance and Highlights & Shadows tools, there are adjustments such as Levels, Curves, Chromatic Aberration, Edge Sharpening, and more. Some adjustments add themselves when you select the tool (such as Crop or Straighten), but others can only be revealed by going to the Add Adjustment menu.

Curves is incredibly powerful, but before you can use it you have to add it from the Add Adjustment menu

The problem is, next time you pull up a fresh image to work on, your Adjustments list has gone back to the default settings.

Making your favorite adjustments stick around

Fortunately, there's an easy way to get any number of adjustments to be there every time, without having to re-add them, and that's by using the “Add to default set” command.

Once an adjustment has been added, click on the gear menu, and choose Add to default set. That's it!

Adding an adjustment to the default set means that every time you load a new image, that adjustment will be ready and waiting for you

If you ever change your mind, you'll notice that the command changes to Remove from default set. This also means you can remove any default adjustments that you never use.

The ability to customize your workflow is one of the great advantages of Aperture. Just because there are 24 adjustments and another 14 adjustment brushes available (under Quick Brushes) doesn't mean you have to clutter your interface with all of them. Choose the ones you use most often, and add the rest only as you need them.

Apple Aperture

Now if only I could figure out a way of setting the default values for certain adjustments, like tweaking the skin smoothing to my most used values and have it set that way every time.

I have made some preset effects, but it seems to reset all my other adjustments when I apply them…


If you dial in your settings and save it as a preset, that should apply without removing other presets. The only thing is that an entire “brick” goes together, and you can't replace just one part of it. So for example, under Exposure you have Exposure, Recovery, Black Point and Brightness. If you were to put Recover to +1 and save that as a preset, then on an image manually adjust Black Point, then apply your preset, it would replace the entire brick. However if you were to adjust something else, say Enhance, and then apply your Exposure/Recover preset, that would add it to it, not replace it.

If you hold down the option key while applying any preset, that will replace all existing presets. But otherwise it adds.

So your desire should just work out of the box. I just tried it with the Skin Smoothing quick brush — I added it to an image, changed the sliders (didn't bother brushing), saved as a preset, reset the image, changed some other adjustments, and then applied my skin smoothing preset, and it worked just fine. 

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Hi Joseph, I was perfectly able to apply my effect, Little S (Small S Curve), from the drop down effects menu as expected. The problem arose when I applied a custom keyboard command. It would constantly reset my other adjustments.

What you just said “If you hold down the option key while applying any preset, that will replace all existing presets. But otherwise it adds.” made me take a second look at my shortcut, and sure enough it was Shift + Alt + S. I removed the Alt from the combo and it now works like a charm!

This has officially changed my entire workflow.

Awesome! What a difference an alt makes :-) 

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BTW, how do I subscribe to comments? I found subscriptions in my account settings, but don’t see comment subscriptions anywhere?

Thx, -CB

It's at the bottom of each post. I'm about to have it changed so when you comment on a post, you are automatically subscribed. We'll see if users complain about that but I think it's a good idea.

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Yes I just noticed the auto subscribe on posts. Nice touch. I think auto subscribe with an opt-out is far better as people generally like to keep up to date with new comments.

One last thing… I’m not sure if keyboard commands for invoking a brush tool (smoothing / dodge / burn) is preconfigured with Aperture or if that’s something I set up. Either way, on my commands these are set up using Alt (Cmd + Alt + S for skin smoothing) and this does NOT reset other adjustments.

I think that's because you're adding (invoking) a tool, not a preset. It's adding a preset while holding alt that it replaces the existing ones.

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That makes perfect sense. Sorry for the delayed reply, but thanks for the follow up!

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