I received this as a comment today and thought I’d post my response here on the ol’ blog for others who may have the same question.

I have tried several websites to find how to use my brushes WITHOUT downloading them. Am I correct, that this is the best way to go, if I have a lot (several hundred)  brushes and don’t want to take the room which will in turn take a long time to load each time in Photoshop Elements? I have PHOTOSHOP ELEMEMTS 7 and 9. On my hard drive, I have a folder named BRUSHES with subfolders within. Where do I go from there? I want to start out using the best method. Suggestions? Also, I understand there are several programs that will let me view the brushes without downloading them. Which one is best, (name please) and how do I get it? Your help is greatly appreciated. Love your tutorials and work. – Kaaren

I don’t use Photoshop Elements personally, but from what I’m told you can temporarily load brushes in PSE by going to your brush selection drop down (in the top toolbar), click the little arrow on the top right of that to bring up a fly-out menu and select “Load Brushes” near the bottom of that fly-out. Navigate to the directory on your hard drive that contains the brushes you want to use and load that file, then they’ll appear at the bottom of your brush selection palette.

When you’re done using them, you can go back into that same menu and select “Reset Brushes” and it will drop any brushes you’ve loaded in your session and return the brush palette to the default settings, which will keep the load time quick.

The process is the same in Photoshop CS5. In CS5 I can also drag-and-drop an ABR file from a folder on my hard drive to any spot on my Photoshop workspace and it’ll auto-load those brushes into my brush palette. I’m not sure if that also works in Photoshop Elements or not? I don’t always remember to reset my brush palette when I leave Photoshop, but after a while I’ll notice that the brush palette is loading extremely slow and then I’ll go in and reset it to the “Basic Brushes” selection (a standard Photoshop brush pack) which is just a bunch of round brushes. I need to do this more on my laptop than I do here in my studio because my laptop isn’t as well equipped as my desktop system.

As far as viewing brushes ahead of time, I know that in ACDSee Photo Manager ($70) you can open up brush files and view the brushes within. I’m an ACDSee user, so that’s how I view mine. Also there’s a program from TumaSoft called Preset Viewer ($25) that allows you to look into brush files, color swatches, patterns, textures and other presets in Adobe products.

If any readers have further tips on this subject, please share them in the comments!