Zooming in the opposite direction? A simple fix for Illustrator and Photoshop

I use Illustrator and Photoshop a lot. I first got my hand on Photoshop (v6.) whilst I was doing my PhD. I always perceived Illustrator as something of a poor cousin. Over time however, the power of working in vector space has become more and more important to me. I now make figures almost exclusively in pdf. These days, rasterized images can be placed in-line within Illustrator layouts and are handled well. My perception is also that the Illustrator interface has been progressively dragged up to the standard of that in Photoshop.

Recently, I began to notice that the zoom controls are opposite in Photoshop and Illustrator (in CS 5, on Lion). Zoom is essential on a 13.3″ laptop screen- it’s probably the most used control, for comparing fine and coarse details. For a while, I thought I was going nuts. The Magic Mouse and Trackpad replicate the mouse-wheel with a two finger vertical push or pull. But I noticed that it was alt-pull-down for Zoom-in in Illustrator and alt-push-up for Zoom-in in Photoshop! I assumed that this was part of my gradual assimilation of knowledge in Illustrator, and that I had never noticed before. But apparently this schism is in fact a bug related to the recent development of “natural direction scrolling” on the Mac

I read that you can work around this bug by getting rid of the natural scrolling. I hated the natural scrolling when it was first implemented in Lion. It seemed like a great reason not to upgrade! But about 3 days after getting an iPhone, I started scrolling the wrong way on the computer. At first, I didn’t even make the connection. Then, after about 6 wrong-direction scrolls, the penny dropped. Now, if I use a Mac without natural scroll direction, it feels as odd as not having right-click enabled (sorry Apple, secondary button). So, I didn’t expect to adopt this workaround. But I stumbled on a fix that may also work for you.

How to regularize zoom in Illustrator and Photoshop

If you alter the System Preference for scrolling direction whilst Illustrator and Photoshop are both open, the zooming directions get synchronized. You can switch natural scrolling off and then on again. With natural scrolling enabled, alt and pull down with two fingers is zoom in, in both apps.

This patchy bug, which seems like it ought to arise from different ways of storing and accessing preferences, indicates to me how distinct the code bases of these two applications are. I expect this is the key reason why unifying them into a consistent, stable UI continues to prove difficult.

Is a bug with such a simple workaround still a bug worth fixing? What I hope (but don’t expect) is that this bug will be fixed in an update. The bigger question is how much work is Adobe doing to unify these two applications, to bring these kind of bugs under control? So many users are “dual-status”, shouldn’t the code be too?


3 thoughts on “Zooming in the opposite direction? A simple fix for Illustrator and Photoshop

  1. Oddly on my Mac, turning natural scrolling off changes zoom in to Option + push up with two fingers, the opposite of what you specify, in both apps. And then if I turn it on again, Up is zoom in, in Illustrator, and Down is zoom in, in Photoshop.

    Madness I tell you! I’ll add this to my ever expanding list of reasons why Adobe is on my shit list.

  2. Pingback: Zoom in MS Word | Serious Piffle

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