Plugins for Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, PSP & others



Organizing your Plugins with Plugin Commander


1. Different Types of Plugins

You can recognize plugins by lookint at their file extension. Here's a table showing you how file extensions map to plugin type:
File ExtensionPlugin Type
8bfAdobe Photoshop Plugin
prmAdobe Premiere Plugin
aexAdobe After Effects plugin

The following file extensions indicate that the file is not a plugin:
File ExtensionFile Type
afsfile creates by the Photoshop Filter Factory plugin
pfffile creates by the Premier Filter Factory plugin
txttext file (that may contain filter code)
atnPhotoshop action file

For example PiCo's Plugin View will display 8bf, prm and aex plugin files. In this View you can change the category of these plugins, enable or disable them and display some information about them. You can do other things in Plugin View, too, but I will concentrate in this tutorial on those three functions. But first some more theory.

2. Categories, Folders, Sub Menus - What is the Difference?

A folder is a structure that is part of the file system, while a category is something that is written inside a plugin. Your graphic application uses these categories to create different sub menus when it scans the plugin folder. So it is possible that two plugins which are in different plugin sub folders and have the same category will be displayed in the same sub menu of your graphic application.

This picture is a screen shot of a hex editor with a opened plugin file.

The first red frame shows the plugin's name, the second the plugins category. As you can see from this screen shot, no plugins can have a category name consisting of unlimited letters. Some plugins can only have category names consisting of max. 5 or 6 letters, while the category name of Filter Factory plugins can be up to 35 letters long.

3. Enabling and Disabling Plugins

Having too many plugins in your plugin folder(s) makes your graphical application start up slower, use more memory and probably floods your filter menu which can be quite annoying. If you want to avoid it and don't need all your plugins all the time, there's a simple way to disable unnecessary plugins with PiCo, so that your graphical application won't recognize them:

1. In File View or Plugin View highlight the plugins you want to disable or enable.

2. Press the Enable/Disable button, press <Ctl + E> or choose Enable/Disable from the Commands menu.

3. You will notice that the file extension of the disabled plugins will have changed from ".8bf" to "._bf". In Plugin View the + symbol in front of the filter name will change to a - symbol indicating that the plugin is disabled.

PiCo disables plugins by simply renaming the file extension. To enable and have them again in your graphic applications filter menu, simply repeat step 1 to 3.

4. Changing the Category of Plugins

Some applications like Photoshop limit the number of categories that are displayable in the filter menu. So it is important to be able to put as much plugins in each category/sub menu as possible. PiCo let's you do this quite easily.

But this feature is also useful to organize your plugins into certain categories that resemble their effect e.g. Psychedelic, Texture, Distortion, Color Filters.

So let's begin:

1. Start PiCo, select your plugin folder in File View and press the Plugin View tab.

2. Highlight the plugins that you want to move to a different or new category.

3. Press the Change Cat button, press <Ctl + H> or choose Change Category from the Commands menu.

4. A small window will pop up.

5. To move the highlighted plugins to a new category, enter a new category name and press OK. To move them to an existing category, select one of them from the combo box.

6. Now the plugins should appear in the new category if no error message appears.

7. If the following error message appears, you will have to start again from Step 2 and enter or select a shorter category name.

Tip: You can move plugins faster to existing categories by simply dragging and dropping them with the mouse. Please notice that PiCo doesn't use the standard Windows drag 'n' drop method, but it is quite similar.

5. Plugin Information

Last but not least let's have a look at a neat little feature called "Plugin Information". You can use it to quickly gather some information on a single plugin in both File and Plugin View. After you highlighted a plugin and chose Plugin Information from the Commands menu, the following window will appear:

The first line tells you the category and filter name, the second describes the plugin type: in this case a Photoshop Filter Plugin. The next line tells you the maximum length this plugin's category name can have. And finally the last line tells you the position of the category inside the plugin file, in case you want to edit the plugin with a hex editor. If the plugin isn't a Filter Factory plugin, you will be told that it can't be edited in PiCo's FF Editor.


6. Feedback

If you have any further questions or comments or if you didn't understood something, just contact me.



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