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If it hadn’t been so crazy expensive to use Google Maps on my Apple iPhone 3GS while I was in the UK, I might never have met Elizabeth. I probably wouldn’t have made it to that charming inn/pub high up on the hill, either. And my trip would have been a bit less rewarding as a result.

We do all sorts of things with our smartphones–until we take them overseas. That’s because rates for data roaming (and voice calls) can add up faster than a heavy lunch at Harrod’s food court.

Let me give you just one example.

How Quickly Can You Burn 20MB?

Before leaving home, I signed up for AT&T’s $25-per-month global data roaming package, which includes up to 20MB of data usage.

I could have opted for other plans, such as one offering 50MB of data for $60 per month, but I was on a budget. To save money, I’d decided to use my Samsung 120 netbook for e-mail, Web surfing, and VoIP calls in my hotel room. I’d also bought a cheap GSM mobile phone and SIM card to avoid AT&T’s $0.99-$1.29-per-minute international voice roaming charges. I planned to use the iPhone only to find my location on Google Maps and get directions when lost.

Folks, how quickly do you think you’d burn up 20MB of data using Google Maps on an iPhone? I suspected it might take two or three days of moderate use. But I was surprised that in just one afternoon of extremely limited Google Maps use–to get and then follow directions from my current location to a museum–I’d eaten up 19MB of data. I had 1 MB of my budgeted amount left–and this was just the second day of a three-week trip.

So I had a few options. I could use Google Maps on my iPhone whenever I was unsure where to go (which was often)–and end up spending hundreds of dollars in data roaming charges. I could try to find my way with the Nuvi, which wouldn’t cause me to incur charges but would exact an emotional toll. Or I could revert back to what I used to do: Carry a map, rely on my own deductive logic, and in the spirit of one of my favorite playwrights, depend upon the kindness of strangers.

Getting Around Like a Local

Before long, however, I’d learned to live without the blue dot. I was hopping onto the Tube and climbing aboard red double-decker buses with growing assuredness. I was learning how to move about London like a Londoner.

Would any of this had happened if the Google Maps blue dot had been a direct path to red ink? I suspect not. And frankly, I’m grateful for that, for being forced by economic necessity to abandon my iPhone, to give up some control, to see where life–rather than a blue electronic dot–might lead me.

Mobile Computing News, Reviews, & Tips

Finally, MMS Comes to iPhone: AT&T says it will make multimedia messaging service (MMS) available for the iPhone 3G and 3GS beginning September 25. MMS has been available for years on most other mobile phones and smartphones.

Third Android in the U.S.: The HTC Hero ($180 with a two-year contract) will be the third Android OS smartphone in the U.S. when it debuts October 11 on the Sprint network. The Hero features a 3.2-inch multitouch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and zippy 528-MHz Qualcomm processor.

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Consumers Are Wary Of Smart Homes That Know Too Much

Nearly two-thirds of consumers are worried about home IoT devices listening in on their conversations, according to a Gartner survey released Monday.

In fact, Gartner found that most consumers don’t feel they need what smart homes offer. Consumer IoT is still in an early-adopter phase, Gartner concluded from the online survey, which was conducted in the second half of last year in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Nearly 10,000 people responded.

Connecting home appliances to each other and the internet can make life easier and homes more efficient. For example, smart thermostats can learn a family’s life patterns and turn up the heat or cooling only when needed. If several products can be orchestrated together, they can build up complex sets of actions like dimming the lights, drawing the blinds, and pausing the dishwasher when the TV comes on — at least in theory. But for all this to succeed in the long term, consumers will have to want smart homes and be willing to pay for them, probably through subscriptions, Gartner analyst Amanda Sabia said.

If several products can be orchestrated together, they can build up complex sets of actions like dimming the lights, drawing the blinds, and pausing the dishwasher when the TV comes on — at least in theory. But for all this to succeed in the long term, consumers will have to want smart homes and be willing to pay for them, probably through subscriptions, Gartner analyst Amanda Sabia said.

Some of the results revealed Monday aren’t promising.

Three-quarters of respondents said they’d just as soon set their lights and thermostats by hand as have IoT do it, while only a quarter were attracted to the idea of devices anticipating their needs and making changes automatically, Gartner said. The results were similar for doing things manually versus through voice commands to IoT devices.

The most widely used smart-home products today are home security alarm systems that detect suspicious activity and report it to a security company, which then contacts the resident, Gartner found.

About 18 percent of respondents used these, while only 11 percent used home monitoring, which just notifies the resident directly if something doesn’t look right. About 9 percent use IoT products for home automation or energy management, like systems for remote startup of lights, heating, and appliances. These adoption rates were higher by about five or six percentage points in the U.S., where many of the new solutions originated, Gartner said.

If home IoT’s going to survive long enough for most consumers to get on board, the suppliers of devices and apps may have to start getting customers to pay subscription fees. It’s the only readily apparent way to make money from consumer IoT today, Sabia said. The businesses won’t survive on just the prices that people will pay for devices.

Home security systems have found a way to make money from IoT with subscriptions, but with some other types of products that could be harder. For example, in the U.K., 58 percent of homes that have home automation get the service for free already, Gartner said.

Your Regular Reminder That Humans Still Waste Way Too Much Food

According to a study published recently in Appetite, young adults tend to waste a lot of food—and the reason seems to be that they have no idea they should try not to waste food.

“Many said these things are out of their control,” study co-author Brenna Ellison, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, said in a press release. “Some participants said they had not been told they need to care about this. You could tell it is not something that has been ingrained in them through school education the way that things like climate change or recycling have been.”

One word the investigators used repeatedly was “apathy”—the young people they surveyed either didn’t think wasted food was worth caring about or thought they had no control over the problem.

Because the research is based on a very limited data set (just 58 individuals from one Midwestern city), it’s impossible to generalize based on the results. But even if we can’t assume all college-aged folks in the United States follow the same patterns of behavior, the findings are troubling. So if this whole food waste thing is news to you, here’s what you need to know.

How much food do we waste?

Studies suggest that of the many millions of tons produced annually in the United States, we waste between 31 and 40 percent—more than any other country in the world. That averages out to some 1200 calories per person per day, which is enough to feed a small child (a particularly sickening statistic when you remember that 12 million children in the U.S. lack reliable access to food).

Why is it bad to waste food?

While it might be easy to ignore when you’re on a college meal plan, most adults have a financial incentive not to waste food; that’s money you spent on calories you didn’t eat. You won’t get a refund for the food that slides into the garbage instead of your gut.

But that’s not the whole problem.

In the same way you hurt your wallet by throwing away calories that might have fueled you, we all hurt the planet by trashing food that took water and energy to produce. Agriculture (and especially livestock) is responsible for some 70 percent of the planet’s freshwater usage, and produces about 35 percent of all of our greenhouse gas emissions. Every time something edible hits your plate, that’s the result of a staggering number of resources. If we could waste less food, we could also produce less of it—which would mean lower water usage and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s not the whole problem, either.

Yes, a single piece of fruit sitting on the forest floor will quickly rot away to nothing, perhaps feeding some opportunistic critters along the way. But that’s not what happens to America’s food waste.

Landfills are giant heaps of all sorts of matter. Surrounded by plastic, metal, and other detritus of modern life, food waste in landfills can’t break down as quickly and cleanly as that lone apple on the forest floor. When lots of food is folded into the mixed-up pile, the resulting rot, deprived of oxygen by the sheer mass of other waste on top of it, produces heat—and sends methane, which is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide, up into the atmosphere.

But isn’t most food waste out of my hands?

It’s true that around half of the country’s food waste happens before anything even hits your plate—farms and factories throw out stuff that won’t meet consumers’ picky demands for perfectly-sized, unblemished fruit. But that’s only half the problem, so shrugging food waste off as an inevitable consequence of our agricultural system is still an awfully irresponsible thing to do.

So what can I do about it?

If, like many of the subjects in the new study, you’re a student doing most of your eating at a cafeteria, you can start with something easy: only take food you’re reasonably sure you want to eat. Several of the survey responders said it was hard not to waste food because the cafeteria offered such a variety of dishes to try, and that school rules or a simple lack of dorm room fridge space made it impossible to cart leftovers back for later. But if you’re tempted by the smorgasbord of dinner options, consider taking tiny portions of everything that interests you before getting seconds of the stuff worth, well, stuffing yourself with. Planning out your trips through the cafeteria buffet will be great practice for when you’ve got to do your own shopping.

If you’re already cooking for yourself, it’s time to start planning your grocery trips and meals carefully. Don’t toss perfectly good food just because there’s a sell-by date stamped on it, and keep your fridge organized so you see and eat perishables long before they rot.

And if you do have to toss something in the trash, consider composting instead. It’s easier than you think, and there’s almost certainly somewhere to drop off food scraps nearby if you can’t handle the composting yourself.

How Much Do Ecommerce Websites Cost To Build?

So, you’re interested in building an online shop and need to know the average eCommerce website cost. 

The cost of an eCommerce site varies wildly; however, this guide will assist you in deciding which type of site you need and where you should invest. 

The Value of a Top Performing eCommerce Site 

Modern customers expect ease and accessibility with their shopping. They have little patience for inefficient sites or lack of online shopping options. There are currently more than 24 million eCommerce sites active worldwide. At least in the United States, around 90% of internet users have made online purchases. For all of these sites, the main goal is to usher customers from the search page to the shopping cart in as little time as possible. 

Businesses that can do this successfully stand to bring in serious revenue from the eCommerce market. 

Factors of an eCommerce Site’s Cost

There are two popular methods for developing a functional eCommerce site. They are as follows: 

Pay For An eCommerce Website Builder

A site builder offers a set package with select options for design, hosting, payments, and other eCommerce site necessities. They typically require month-by-month payments to continue running your eCommerce site. 

Examples of popular eCommerce platforms include Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. eCommerce software can be an excellent option for:

Businesses with some technical know-how 

New businesses 

Hire Professional eCommerce Developers 

A professional agency offers customized eCommerce services. Their prices vary not just from developer to developer but also based on the services you require. What you get with an expert is the assurance that your eCommerce site will be ideal for your product and services. 

This option requires much less technical know-how from businesses themselves. In addition, a professional agency can offer individualized custom development and will work with legacy systems and existing eCommerce sites moving off of a builder system. 

General Factors Influencing Cost of an eCommerce Website

The following lays out some universal costs of building an eCommerce website. 

Hosting 

Your hosting costs depend on numerous factors, including the level of traffic your site gets and your specific needs. Hosting costs are necessary for any site build as quality hosting services ensure your site is secure and can run efficiently daily. 

The average cost of a hosting plan may range anywhere from $30 a month to thousands of dollars a month. 

Payment 

Payment processing is a vital component of your eCommerce site. Unfortunately, accepting payments through your site will cost you, so be sure to budget payment costs into your website planning. 

Payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe will take a set percentage plus a small fee for every sale. For example:

PayPal Domestic Checkout Fees: 3.49% + fixed fee

Stripe Domestic Checkout Fees: 2.9% + 30¢

Design

Potential customers expect a certain level of aesthetic quality in every site they visit. eCommerce sites have become highly competitive, so a poorly designed site sets you behind competitors. Additionally, designing for your audience requires in-depth consumer knowledge and the ability to execute a functional design. 

Box builders like Shopify offer ready-made design packages that are easy to launch. A design like this can be limiting and only vaguely customizable. However, this can be a promising option for an eCommerce business with limited funds. Professional designers offer a highly targeted custom design experience. The higher price tag may be worth it for business owners trying to outpace competitors. 

The average eCommerce website design cost can range from around $20 a month to thousands of dollars in setup.

Growth

This requires many eCommerce sites to transition to a professional development company. These agencies can create a custom eCommerce site poised to adapt as you grow. 

The cost of growth is extremely dependent on a business’s unique situation. Oftentimes, a professional agency can offer valuable insights on where a site needs adjustment and how to build a site for future growth. This can save funds in the long run. 

Many professional agencies charge hourly fees for a website rehaul ranging in the hundreds per hour. Additionally, many will consult or offer expertise before a rehaul or before creating a website. If possible, always consult with the experts before launching an eCommerce site independently. 

Other Costs To Consider 

Product photographers and editors typically charge by the hour, and fees usually range from $75 to $500+ an hour. Prices depend on the skill and experience of the photographer. 

Content services typically range in the thousands of dollars per month. However, pricing depends on the exact content services you require and the experience of the content specialist or agency. 

A custom app can run you anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clearly, this is a serious investment in your eCommerce business with potentially high rewards. 

The main cost estimate consideration you’ll need to make is for your overall business budget. A quality eCommerce site can bring in a sizable jump in revenue, but it also requires a significant upfront average cost. Consider what funds you have and where you want your business to be in 5, 10, and 20+ years. 

The Elevato Strategy 

As a professional agency, our experts work in creative solutions and innovative processes. We sit down with you and run a deep dive into where your business is now and where you want to be. Quality website building sets your eCommerce business up for success now and in the future.  

We are not an out-of-the-box solution, nor do we create basic sites. Our clients get custom development and attentive care. Typically, our solutions involve a bare minimum of about 100 hours of billable project time. At Elevato, we focus on billing by the hour, so the customer only pays what it takes to build the site exactly how you want it. 

We offer top-tier teams in all the following areas of eCommerce services: 

From Search Engine Optimization to revenue-driving content to stunning paid media – our marketing team offer tailored services to give your eCommerce site a competitive edge. 

The Elevato developers provide holistic solutions for an online storefront that’s perfect for your business. We can launch a variety of systems for an adaptable site that can handle a plethora of functions and grow your business. 

Our integrated hosting services give businesses peace of mind knowing that their online business is secure and ready for traffic.  

Build a competitive eCommerce website with Elevato. Contact us today.

Why Do We Need To Learn Powershell?

PowerShell Tutorial

Suppose you know a little bit about Linux, which provides a very rich command interface. Because of Linux rich command, Linux was a preferred platform for software development. On the other hand, windows was mostly used for UI-based uses for non-development purposes. So finally, to control all these issues, Microsoft released PowerShell version 1 for the first time in 2006. The main goal of PowerShell was to provide command rich interface to developers where developers will be able to write scripts and automate various jobs. So initially, they developed PowerShell for Windows only, but after version 6, it started supporting macOS and Linux as well.

Why do we need to learn PowerShell?

In Windows, it has DOS cmd, But if we need to do complex scripting and if we need to write any heavy scripts jobs, then the existing cmd is not good enough. PowerShell allows developers on Windows to write a script with controlling one computer to multiple remote computers at once. DOS is just a shell where PowerShell is a powerful scripting language that is completely based on .NET and is mostly used by my administrator to handle Networks and servers. On Windows, if you use DOS as cmd, you will be only checking ipconfig and some basic things, whereas by learning PowerShell, you will be a complete programmer. Because of its rich commands and object-based approach, it is a powerful tool for scripting.

Below are some points why we should learn PowerShell.

Consistency: The biggest benefit of PowerShell of the current version is that it is available for all Operating systems. So, for example, if you are developing the script on a computer X and after successfully testing your script on your computer X, you can share your script with another person who is going to run your script on his computer Y, which will work perfectly from the version 6 because PowerShell is available for all OS, ie. Windows, Linux, and macOS. So a script will work on different architecture as well. Other than Architecture, PowerShell also provides automation to administration tasks with better performance .

Interactive and scripting environments: The Powershell of Windows Prompt gives us a very interactive tool to access the command-line interface for scripting.

Object orientation: As it is totally written over the .NET, it will give us a complete Object-based approach to implementing it. So we are not just writing a command. It allows us to explore more.

Applications of PowerShell

It will be very useful for administrative management with PowerShell admin to delete, add and update users. We transfer heavy files from one computer to another to multiple network computers at once. If Admin has some task that he will run repetitively, then the Admin can use PowerShell to create a script and put it into job cycles where it will run at given intervals.

Example

Suppose, In PowerShell, we want to see the process with name “nginx” and “node.”

Prerequisites

You can install Powershell by MSI, and you should only need to learn the basics of programming like, if, for loops and variables and it’s an available rich set of commands. Even if you do not know much programming you can directly start with PowerShell.

Target Audience

Developers: A developer can have requirements to develop a tool where he may change his data for a running application regularly. For example, on any e-commerce website, we want to show the best-selling products. So the developer will write a script that will fetch data daily and update top-selling product details so that top-selling products will be visible to end customers.

Administrator: The administrator can write a script for automation of updating, deleting, and performing certain tasks on all the users regularly to avoid repetition of the same tasks.

Why Do We Need Selections In Photoshop?

None of this, however, explains why we need to make selections in the first place, so in this tutorial, we’ll take a quick look at the “why”. This won’t be a detailed explanation of how to make selections. We’ll save that for other tutorials. Here, we’re simply going to look at why we need to make selections at all.

Take selections in Photoshop, for example. There’s no shortage of ways to select things in an image with Photoshop. We can make simple geometric selections with the Rectangular Marquee Tool or the Elliptical Marquee Tool , or freehand selections with the Lasso , Polygonal Lasso or Magnetic Lasso Tools. We can select areas of similar color or brightness values with the Magic Wand or Color Range command. We can paint or refine a selection manually with a brush in Quick Mask mode or by using a layer mask. We can make surgically-precise selections with the Pen Tool , and more! We can even combine different selection methods when none of them by themselves seem to be up to the challenge.

As you may have already discovered on your own if you’ve read through any of our other Photoshop tutorials here at Photoshop Essentials, I’m a big fan of “why”. Lots of people will happily tell us how to do something, but for whatever reason, the why is usually left out, forever limiting our understanding of what it is we’re doing.

Do You See What I See?

As I write this, summer is once again coming to an end. The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooler, and around here, with autumn fast approaching, the weekend farmers markets will soon be filled with bushels and bushels of apples. In fact, here’s some right now just waiting to be picked:

Red, delicious apples. Unless of course, you don’t like apples, but who doesn’t like apples?

Obviously, the main subject in the photo above is the apples, right? But why is it obvious? How do we know that we’re looking at apples? We know because most of us have seen enough apples in the past that we can instantly recognize them. We know their shape, their color and their texture because we’ve seen them before. We could even point to each apple in the photo if someone asked us to without mistakenly pointing at a leaf or something else that isn’t an apple because we have no problem distinguishing between all the different objects in the image. We see things with our eyes and our brain tells us that this is this and that is that, and this is not that and that is not this. In fact, even if we had never seen an apple before, we could at least point to all the objects that look relatively the same. We’re so good at recognizing and identifying objects that we usually do it without consciously thinking about it.

That’s great for us, but what about Photoshop? Does Photoshop see the apples? Does Photoshop recognize their shape, color and texture as “apple”? Can it point to all the apples in the photo without confusing an apple with a leaf, or at least point to all the objects that look the same?

The simple answer is no, it can’t. No matter how many photos of apples you’ve opened in Photoshop in the past (geez, what is it with you and apples?), Photoshop has no idea what apples are or what they look like. The reason is because all Photoshop sees is pixels. It doesn’t matter if it’s a photo of apples, oranges or monkeys eating bananas. To Photoshop, it’s all the same. It’s all just pixels, those tiny little squares that make up a digital photo:

A close-up view of the edge of an apple showing that it’s really just a bunch of tiny square pixels.

Select None To Select Them All

So far, we know that we see things very differently from how Photoshop sees them. We see independent, recognizable objects while Photoshop sees everything as pixels, and we tell Photoshop which pixels we want to work on by selecting them with one or more of the various selection tools. In fact, before we can do anything at all to an image, Photoshop first needs to know which pixels we want to edit.

For example, let’s say I want to change the color of the main apple in the photo. I want to change it from red to green. Based on what I just said, I shouldn’t be able to do that without first selecting the pixels that make up the apple. Let’s give it a try anyway, just for fun. I’ll select the Brush Tool from the Tools panel:

Selecting the Brush Tool.

Photoshop paints with the current Foreground color.

The Color Picker is the most common way to select colors in Photoshop.

Ultra-realistic photo effect. Expert users only.

Wait a minute, what just happened?! I was able to paint over the apple! Photoshop didn’t complain at all! Okay, let’s recap. I said we can’t do anything to an image unless we first select the pixels that we want to edit. Then to prove it, I grabbed my Brush Tool and tried painting over part of the image without first selecting anything, yet I was still able to paint over it. This can only mean one thing… I have no idea what I’m talking about!

Seriously though, the real reason why I was still able to paint over the apple without first selecting any pixels is because of a little known fact. Whenever we have nothing selected in an image, we actually have everything selected. Photoshop assumes that if we didn’t select any specific pixels first, it can only be because we wanted every pixel selected so we can edit the entire photo. Or at least, we have the option to edit the entire photo. As we saw in this example, I was able to paint over just a small area of the image even though I didn’t select any pixels first, but if I wanted to, I could have just as easily painted over the entire image and there would have been nothing preventing me from doing that.

While having the freedom to go where we want and do what we please sounds wonderful, it can actually be a very bad thing, at least when it comes to photo editing. In this example, all I wanted to do was change the color of the apple, yet because I didn’t select the apple first, Photoshop allowed me to paint anywhere I wanted, and all I ended up doing was making a mess of things. Let’s see what happens if I select the apple first.

Painting Inside The Lines

I’m going to undo the paint strokes I added to the image by pressing Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac), and this time, I’ll select the apple first before painting over it. As I mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial, we’ll save the details of how to actually make selections for other tutorials. For now, I’ll simply go ahead and draw a selection around the apple.

Photoshop displays selection outlines for us as a series of animated dashed lines, or what many people call “marching ants”. Obviously, we can’t see them “marching” in the screenshot, but we can at least see the selection outline that now appears around the apple:

Selection outlines appear as animated “marching ants”.

Of course, to us, it looks like I’ve selected the apple, but keep in mind that as far as Photoshop is concerned, all I’ve done is selected some of the pixels in the image. They just happen to be the pixels that make up what you and I see as an apple. The pixels that fall within the boundaries of the selection outline are now selected, which means that they can be affected by whatever edits I make next, while the remaining pixels outside of the selection outline are not selected and won’t be affected by anything I do.

Let’s see what happens now when I try painting over the apple again. I’ll grab the Brush Tool just like I did before, and with green still as my Foreground color, I’ll try painting over the apple. The only difference this time is that I selected the apple first:

The paint strokes now appear only inside the selected area.

Thanks to the selection I made before painting, Photoshop allowed me to paint only inside my selected area. Even though I moved the brush well outside the boundaries of the selection as I was painting and made no attempt to stay inside the lines, none of the pixels outside of the selection outline were affected. They remained safe and unharmed no matter how sloppy I was with the brush, and I was able to easily paint over the apple without worrying about the rest of the image, all thanks to my selection!

Of course, just because we’ve selected a certain area of pixels doesn’t mean we necessarily have to edit every pixel inside the selection outline. I’m going to once again remove my green paint strokes by pressing Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo the last step, and this time, with my selection still active, I’m going to use a much larger brush with soft edges to paint only along the bottom half of the apple, giving me a nice transition in the middle between the green brush color and the natural red of the apple. Even though the pixels in the top half of the apple are part of the selection I made, they remain unchanged because I chose not to paint over them. Photoshop doesn’t actually care if we do anything with the pixels we’ve selected. All it cares about is that we don’t get to touch the pixels we didn’t select:

Any pixel inside of a selection outline can be edited, but nothing says you have to edit every pixel.

Just as before, my paint stroke is confined to the pixels inside of the selection outline, even though I moved well outside of it with my brush. To make things look a bit more realistic, I’m going to blend the green color in with the apple using one of Photoshop’s blend modes. I’ll go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose the Fade Brush Tool option:

The actual name of the Fade option changes depending on the last edit that was made.

This brings up Photoshop’s Fade dialog box, which allows us to make some adjustments to the previous edit. To blend the green in with the apple, I’m going to change the blend mode of the brush to Color, and to lower the intensity of the green, I’ll lower the Opacity option down to around 80%:

The Color blend mode allows us to change the color of an object without changing its original brightness values.

Press Ctrl+H (Win) / Command+H (Mac) to temporarily hide selection outlines. Press it again to bring them back.

Up next, we’ll look at another important reason for making selections – working with layers!

Selections Make Layers More Useful

Up until now, I’ve been making all of my edits directly on the Background layer, which is a very bad way to work because it means that I’ve been making changes to my original photo. If I was to save my changes and close out of the document window, the original image would be lost forever. Sometimes that may be fine, but it tends to leave a bad impression when you’re forced to call up a client and ask, “Would you happen to have another copy of the photo you sent over? I sort of… well, hehe… I kind of ruined the copy you gave me”.

A much better way to work in Photoshop is to use layers. With layers, we can work on a copy of the image while leaving the original unharmed, and thanks to selections, we can even copy different parts of an image to their own layers so we can work on them independently! Without the ability to make selections though, layers in Photoshop would be nowhere near as useful as they are.

I’m going to revert my image back to its original, unedited state by going up to the File menu and choosing Revert. This sets my image back to the way it was when I first opened it:

The Revert command reverts an image back to its original state or to the last saved state.

A very common Photoshop effect is to leave something in the image in full color while converting the rest of the photo to black and white. Let’s see how selections can help us to do this. First, since we just said that working directly on the Background layer is a bad thing, let’s duplicate the Background layer, which will give us a copy of it that we can work on. To do that, I’ll go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, then I’ll choose New, and then I’ll choose Layer via Copy:

Creating a copy of the original image.

If we look in the Layers panel, we can see that we now have two layers – the Background layer on the bottom which holds the original photo, and a new layer above it which Photoshop has named “Layer 1”, containing a copy of the photo that we can safely edit without harming the original:

Working on a copy of the image keeps the original safe.

Notice that the entire Background layer was copied. We’ll come back to this in a moment. Since we want to leave the apple with its original colors while converting everything else to black and white, we’ll need to select the apple before we do anything else, so I’ll once again draw a selection around it. Our familiar selection outline reappears:

A selection outline appears once again around the apple.

With the apple selected, I’m going to create another copy of the image by going back up to the Layer menu, choosing New and then choosing Layer via Copy. Remember that the last time we did this, Photoshop copied the entire layer. This time though, something different has happened. We now have a third layer in the Layers panel sitting above “Layer 1” and the Background layer, but if we look in the preview thumbnail to the left of the new layer’s name, we can see that all we copied this time was the apple itself, not the entire layer:

True to its name, the preview thumbnail gives us a preview of the contents of each layer.

Any time we have a selection active when we copy a layer, only the area inside the selection outline is copied, which is why in this case, only the apple was copied. This ability to isolate a specific object in a photo and place it on its own layer is what makes layers so incredibly useful. If we couldn’t select anything first, all we could do is make copy after copy of the entire image, which is usually about as pointless as it sounds.

Selected layers appear highlighted in blue.

To convert the image to black and white, I’ll quickly desaturate it by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments and then choosing Desaturate:

The Desaturate command is a quick way to remove color from an image.

Desaturating an image is certainly not the best way to convert a color photo to black and white, but it works in a hurry. Let’s look again in the Layers panel, where we can see in the preview thumbnail for “Layer 1” that the copy of our original image now appears in black and white, while the apple on the layer above it has been unaffected and remains in color:

Only “Layer 1” has been desaturated.

Since the apple is sitting on a layer above the black and white version of the image, it appears in full color in front of the black and white image in the document window:

Combining selections with layers makes a great creative team.

Of course, there’s a lot more we can do with selections in Photoshop than just painting inside of them or copying them to new layers, but hopefully this gave us an idea of why selections are so important. Photoshop sees only pixels where we see independent objects, so we need selections as a way to bridge the gap between our world and Photoshop’s world. And while layers can stake their claim as one of the biggest and best features of Photoshop, they owe more of their usefulness to selections than they’d probably care to admit.

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