When designing website drafts in Photoshop, you may have noticed that you need to measure pixel accurate distances, make exact selections or transform shapes pixelwise. In all cases you’ll have to move the cursor (mostly a cross) very accurate to preserve the design guidelines or mathematically distances. For example, I’ve always drawn an accurate selection by zooming in (using CTRL-SPACE), selecting the most left edge of a shape, zooming out, adding an area to the selection (by holding down SHIFT), zooming in to the most right edge of a shape and finally refining the selection by removing a selection area (using ALT). This can be an annoying task if you have to determine some hundreds of distances a day.
So I’ve crawled the web for an improved magnifying tool (the standard ‘Windows magnifier’ has problems with refreshing in Photoshop) and there’s one impressive (free) tool called ‘Magnifier’.
This small tool has some advanced features like ‘Follow Mouse’, ‘Auto Refresh’, ‘On Top’, ‘Smooth’, ‘Grid’, ‘Capture’ and ‘Hi-Lite’. So it will stay on top over your running applications and will refresh automatically (if you move the cursor in Photoshop, it will also show the movement). The application features zoom levels from 2x up to 36x. A cherry on the cake is the windowless appearance of Magnifier so you can integrate the application in Photoshop perfectly.
I’ve made a screenshot of my current Photoshop CS3 setup including Magnifier. I’m using two monitors (left: 24”, 1920×1200 / right: 19”, 1600×1200) where I’m having a bare workspace-area on the left screen and the tool palettes on the right screen. I’ve integrated Magnifier on the right screen so that I can see a zoomed view of my current Photoshop cursor.
So this small tool may improve your Photoshop workflow when measuring distances or making accurate selections. Just try it out.