Mike Rankin

As Ilene Strizver wrote in a recent TypeTalk, you can use alternate characters in OpenType fonts to improve the look, personality, and effectiveness of your type. It's an awesome tip because alternate characters can improve your type in all kinds of ways. They can offer small changes like slightly longer (or shorter) descenders, or big changes like decorative swashes or characters that fit together via discretionary ligatures.
And OpenType alternates are easy to apply via the Glyphs panel in InDesign and Illustrator…but not Photoshop, which lacks a Glyphs panel.
Illustrator's Glyphs panel
You can apply some (but not all) alternates in Photoshop by opening the Character panel (Window > Character), selecting the glyphs you want to replace, and clicking on the Contextual Alternates button.

But when there are multiple alternates for a glyph, clicking the button will do nothing, since Photoshop has no idea which alternate you want.
So how can you choose and apply specific alternate OpenType characters into your Photoshop type designs? The answer is simple: copy and paste from Illustrator. Just add some type to an Illustrator document using the same font, color, size as you want to use in Photoshop.
Then copy it, and paste it into your Photoshop document.

Note that this same trick does not work if you try to copy and paste from InDesign. You have to use Illustrator as the source of the alternate character.
It's slightly annoying, though simple enough to get you by until the day comes when Photoshop has a Glyphs panel of its own.

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