I can't achieve anything more using the Covert Tool vs the Convert Tool with the Alt/Opt key pressed.
The Convert Tool does one of two things for me:
It gets rid of BOTH handles if a smooth point, or,
it adds TWO handles if there are no handles.
It's easy to create a point with one handle, but to get there FROM 2 handles, evades me.
A work around is just to drag the handle into the point, accomplishing the same thing. Or, just line it up with the segment. Frustrating, but not really important.
In Illustrator you can drag one handle back to the anchor point to remove it (and the point icon changes slightly when you're on top of it) but not in Photoshop, it's one of the subtle ways the vector engine differs between the two programs. Interesting enough though, you can copy a vector path from Photoshop, paste it in Illustrator and delete one handle, then copy and paste it back in Photoshop with the handle deleted. Not useful but interesting.
But what is very useful are Smart Objects. You can draw an object in Illustrator then paste it into Photoshop as a Smart Object, afterward if you double click on the layer icon in the layers pallet it will open the shape in Illustrator, you can make changes and save, the results are updated in Photoshop. That way you can take advantage of the more advanced vector tools available in Illustrator, have complicated vector shapes with multiple fill/stroke colors, and maintain a single file work flow in Photoshop. It's all saved as part of a single PSD.
With my copy of Photoshop I can, using the Convert Point tool, convert the point from a two-handle point to a one-handle point (with Alt key down) or a corner point (with no modifier key).
With the Alt key down I can drag from a corner point to extend a handle in one dimension.
You folks aren't able to reproduce this? Could this be a difference between PC and Mac platforms?
I can get it to work sort of, you can drag a handle with the convert corner point tool back to the anchor point, it acts like it's removed it, but it's still there just very very close to the anchor point. (The closer to the anchor point you drop it the better it works, but there is nothing to make it snap to the anchor point.) Afterwards using the direct selection tool you can move the anchor point, most of the time it will move just as if the handle was removed, but every now and then you'll actually drag the handle back out from the point, proving that the handle was not actually removed.
I'm using CS5 on OS X 10.7
Thanks, Noel, that's it. I am on a Mac. With the Convert Point Tool + Opt., clicking on the Anchor Point DOES delete a handle. The LEADING handle. It seems that there is no choice to delete the other handle.
I was confused. Getting to the Convert Tool while using the white arrow (Cmd-Opt) does not delete a single handle: it deletes both. I have to start from the Convert Tool, and then Opt-click the Anchor Point. Would be nice if we could just delete a handle of choice.
I found this very helpful, while drawing using the Pen Tool (not editing): Opt-click the last Anchor Point to delete the leading handle. (PS offers 2 handles, when often only one is needed).
In summary, I think that this is correct:
1) while drawing, Opt-click the Anchor Point to delete the leading handle
2) when editing, first go to the Convert Tool, and then Opt-click the Anchor Point to delete the leading handle.
3) dragging the handle point into the Anchor Point works pretty well, but is a little tedious. Sometimes it really seems to disappear, but I'm not sure.
4) lining up the undesired handle works pretty well.
Thanks for all the help. The Pen Tool, as the experts warn, is great, but does require quite a bit of practice.