Wacom Intuos Pro tablet (model PTH660) thoughts

I’ve had the Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet (model PTH660) for a few months now and thought I’d post just a few thoughts.

First off, if you use Photoshop or Lightroom, the Wacom tablet is a game-changer. After you get used to using the pen, drawing is much more natural than with using a mouse. If you’ve ever tried to draw a circle or draw a selection around a person’s head with a mouse, you’ll appreciate the difference.

By default, the tablet’s drawing area maps to your computer’s entire display area. I thought this might be a problem since I use multiple monitors, but I haven’t found this to be the case. I suppose this could be a problem depending on how many monitors you use and how they were arranged, but you can change it to map to just certain displays or a portion.

Probably the oddest thing about the Wacom Intuos Pro is that there is no user manual available. Now, although operationally it is very close to the prior model–for which a manual does exist–, it does differ in some significant ways. For example, it has Bluetooth. It was nearly impossible to follow the cryptic online pairing instructions back in February, but Wacom did finally post some helpful getting-started videos last month.

I’m not sure what the cause is, but I found that after connecting remotely to my computer, when I returned physically, I lost the Bluetooth connection. This might be related to my computer’s Bluetooth and not the Wacom tablet, but since I only use it with my desktop computer, I just use the wired USB cable. The added benefit is that I don’t have to worry about the tablet’s battery being charged.

Recommended Settings

The tablet is highly customizable, but how much customization you do is matter of personal taste. However, there are a couple settings that I recommend for the pen. First, I turn off Tip Double Click Distance. For easy undoing in Photoshop, I set the upper pen button to Control Alt Z. This is much more useful than the default double-click, which is easily accomplished by double-tapping the pen tip.

By default, when you press and hold the tip down, a right-click will be performed which will quickly become annoying. Interestingly, this is a Windows setting, not a Wacom preference. To turn it off, open the Control Panel and search for Pen and Touch. Select Press and hold, and then click Settings. Uncheck the Enable press and hold for right-clicking option. Click OK.

I still rely on good ol keyboard shortcuts and don’t really use the physical Express keys on the tablet itself. This may change in time, however. I discovered that if you just touch one of the Express keys, but not press it, a graphic will appear that shows what all of them are set at and highlights the one you are touching. Nice!

Backup

If you do any customization of the settings, you will definitely want to back them up. To do this, run the Wacom Tablet Preference File Utility.

Then click Backup… and save the settings to your computer.

Flattening the Learning Curve

If you aren’t used to tablets, trying using the tablet for everything (e.g., web browsing), not just for your graphic tools. This will really accelerate your getting used to this input device and things becoming more natural. (Hint: the bottom-left Express key on the tablet allows you to scroll with the pen when you press it :-)

Touch is Awesome

The Wacom also supports touch, that is, using your fingers instead of the pen. I absolutely love this! In fact, if it only did this, I might buy it anyways! For example, I use Feedly to read my RSS feeds. I often click on a post to open it in a full browser window. I have four-finger swipe down set to Ctrl-W which closes the tab. A four-finger swipe up sends an Esc which closes the post in Feedly. Finally, a five-finger tap does a Shift-M which marks all posts as read.

Now, obviously not everyone uses Feedly, but the point is that there is likely some repetitive tasks you perform everyday where you can use custom gestures. I suggest you check out the keyboard shortcuts for the things you do all the time and set them up in the My Gestures tab to tailor things to your needs.

Conclusion

I just love the Wacom. As I stated above, just the touch gestures are enough to justify my purchase. Since the Intuos Pro hasn’t really changed much, the many wonderful YouTube tutorials for the previous model are still applicable. Drawing artists probably already know the benefits of a tablet, but this is a must-have tool for photographers as well.

UPDATES:

2017-04-17: I added the how a graphic pops up when you touch, but don’t press, one of the Express keys.

2017-05-23: After updating to the 6.3.21-10 driver, I started experiencing erratic freezing when using touch. Pen and mouse worked fine. I uninstalled and reinstalled version 6.3.20-7 and the problem went away. I sent an email to Wacom support several days ago, but haven’t heard back. I got a response and was told they were forwarding the issue to the “driver team”. I hazard to guess that this may be a real (and known) issue because normally you get the uninstall/re-install garbage auto-response for things like this. I will report back if anything happens.

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