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Customization with Preferences

It’s a fact of life that no two designers are alike. How you like to organize your workspace is different from how I organize mine. The copy of Fireworks 8 you installed on your desktop has preset preferences that the folks at Macromedia thought you’d enjoy. You may like what they’ve done, and you may be yearning to go in and tailor the program to fit your style.

Most people don’t bother messing with customizing their preferences unless they use the program on a daily basis. If you have a hankering to make some changes, read on.

For the most part, the preference settings (accessed by choosing Edit, Preferences) are self-explanatory. I’ll review a few key preferences that you may want to consider changing. Note that you need to restart Fireworks for the new preferences to take effect.

General Tab

The General tab (see Figure 3.56) contains settings that influence the basic aspects of the Fireworks environment. One setting worth changing is the number of Undo Steps. The default setting is 20. The higher the setting, the more RAM is sucked up. The lower the setting, the less RAM is used, but the more hampered you are by your mistakes. It’s a balancing act and you will have to determine what’s best for you. I like to set my Undo Steps to 10.

Figure 3.56

Figure 3.56 The General tab enables you to customize basic aspects of the Fireworks environment.

Editing Tab

The Editing tab settings (see Figure 3.57) affect workflow. You can change cursor styles, hide edges, display striped borders, and so on. Checking the Pen Preview, however, is handy if you’re just learning how to use the Pen tool because the next line segment is displayed while you’re drawing.

Figure 3.57

Figure 3.57 The Editing tab enables you to customize workflow settings.

Launch and Edit

Launch and Edit settings are used to control how Fireworks integrates with other Macromedia programs such as Dreamweaver. Because most Fireworks graphics comprise an editable graphic (Fireworks PNG) and an exported graphic (JPEG or GIF), the launch and edit settings enable you to select one of the following three options:

  • Always Use Source PNG—Opens the source PNG file when editing from another application. When you’re finished with the file, the original optimization settings are used when it’s exported again.
  • Never Use Source PNG—Opts not to use the source PNG to open the exported JPEG or GIF in Fireworks.
  • Ask When Launching—Prompts you to decide what to do on a case-by-case basis. Because I believe there are few absolutes in life, I keep the default Ask When Launching setting.


The Folders tab enables you to designate where plug-ins, textures, and patterns are stored. After restarting Fireworks, the program loads all plug-ins, textures, and patterns in those folders.


The Import tab provides controls on how Photoshop objects are imported into Fireworks:

  • The Layers section—Dictates how Photoshop layers are brought into Fireworks. They can be imported as Fireworks Objects or as Fireworks Frames. The Share Layer Between Frames option imports the Photoshop layers as Fireworks sublayers and also designates those layers as shared.
  • The Text section—Enables you to decide whether you want to retain editability or appearance. If you want to preserve the font style from the Photoshop object but don’t have the font, select Maintain Appearance. If you want to edit the text, select Editable.
  • The Use Flat Composite Image option—Flattens and merges all Photoshop layers.

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