Fix It In Photoshop | Master Photoshop Interface In 10 Easy Lessons

David Coultham

This article covers all the main methods available to you within Photoshop to manage and tailor your working environment. The fix-its cover everything from aesthetic changes in Photoshop’s appearance to tailoring the displays so that they are better optimized for your particular workflow.

Because Photoshop is used not only by photographers but by digital artists, graphic designers, etc, by default, it comes loaded with various workspace views. Each of these views is configured based on the most commonly used tools and layout used within each of these genres. However, you are not tied down to these layouts, because the interface and the tools which are available to you are fully customizable for your specific way of working.

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Video | A Beginners Guide | Customize Photoshops Interface In 10 Easy Lessons

Change Photoshop Interface Colors

If you want to change the overall look of Photoshop, head up to the Application Bar and select ‘Photoshop > Preferences > Interface’ on a MAC or ‘Edit > Preferences > Interface’ on a PC. From the pop-up window illustrated above, you can then select from the four neutral colors available.

Hiding Photoshop Rich Tool Tips

The Rich Tooltips included by Adobe are great if you are just starting with Photoshop, but they can soon become a distraction once you know your way around Photoshop. The good news is, that you can opt to switch them off!

To do this, head up to the Application Bar and select ‘Photoshop > Preferences >Tools on a MAC or ‘Edit > Preferences > Tools’ on a PC. Near the top of the pop-up window is a radio button labeled ‘Show Rich Tooltips’. Un-tick that radio button and click OK to commit the change. 

Loading Photoshop Default Workspace Views

Photoshop comes pre-loaded with a set of Workspace Views in different use-case scenarios. Each of these contains the tools and panel layout which are optimized for each of the use cases. You access these by heading to the Application Bar and selecting ‘Window > Workspace’. Then, just select a use case from the list that suits what you are doing.

NOTE: If you are working on an image and start moving panels around, or, things just start to look messed up; then head up to the Workspace and re-select your favored use case. This makes all the panels default back to the saved setting.

Creating CUSTOMIZED Workspace Views

STEP 1: CUSTOMIZE THE TOOLS: Head up to the Application Bar & select ‘Edit > Toolbar’. This brings up the panel illustrated below.

The column to the left named Toolbar represents the tools currently in your Tool Panel, together with how they are grouped. The column on the right named Extra Tools represents all the other tools that are available to you.

If you want to remove a particular tool from the Tool Panel click and drag it from the Toolbar column and into the Extra Tools column. Likewise, to add a Tool to the Tool Panel, drag it from the Extra Tools Column to the Toolbar column. Notice also, that, you don’t even need to have Tools grouped in the default Photoshop settings. So for instance, if you want the Dodge Tool & Burn Tool to appear separately instead of grouped, then you can do this by separating them in the Toolbar instead of stacked together.

STEP 2: CUSTOMIZE THE PANELS: Head up to the Application Bar again, and this time select ‘Window’ 

From the list of available Panels, the ones that are displayed are highlighted with a tick. You can switch them on or off simply by clicking on them with your mouse.

STEP 3: CUSTOMIZE THE APPLICATION BAR: If you don’t want to see all of the options in the Application Bar, then you don’t have to. So for instance, let’s say you never use the 3D options; you can choose to hide these from view. 

I tend to leave mine at its default because the Menu Bar is sitting at the top of the screen anyway, but the point is, the choice is yours. To do this, head back up to the Application Bar and ‘Edit > Menus’. From there, you can eliminate any you don’t want to see by selecting the menu item and then unchecking the eye icons.

STEP 4: SAVE YOUR WORKSPACE PRESET: Head back up to the Application Bar and select ‘Window > Workspace > New Workspace’. Give your workspace a name (I called mine David Workspace). Then, make sure to check the radio-button options to save Tool Layout and Menu Layout and click ‘Save’ to commit the change.  Your custom workspace will now always be available to you as a preset directly from the Application Bar.

How To Open Panels

Photoshop has more than 30 Panels. Each Panel is a miniature workspace dedicated to performing a specific task. The most frequently used Panels appear in the main Panels area as a set of Tabs. So for instance the Layers Tab is central in much of what Photographers do in Photoshop and hence sits prominently in the Panel. Behind this tab, you will find Channels and Paths Tabs. 

As well as all the tabs in the main Panels window there is a slither of icons to the left of the Panels area (illustrated right). Selecting any of these opens up the respective workspace for that Panel.

You can also opt to add Panels from this slither of icons by heading to the Application Bar selecting ‘Windows’ and picking from the list available.

How To Expand And Contract Panels

At the top-right of the main Panels area is a small icon like two little arrows pointing to the left. Clicking this will toggle between expanding the Panels or collapsing them. 

In addition, there is another icon at the top-right which looks like ‘…’. Click on this and choose between ‘Expanded View’ or ‘Compact View’. The expanded view is great if say you are working on a large project with multiple layers, or if for example, you need a closer look at histogram.

How To Show Or Hide Panels

To hide any Panels that you don’t use, or that you want to hide temporarily to de-clutter your workspace, head up to the Application Bar and select ‘Windows’. The Panels that are displayed in your workspace have a tick against them. Select the ones that you either do or don’t want to see.

NOTE: If you find you are tailoring the Panels frequently, then consider making your own Workspace Template; see ‘Creating Your Own Workspace Views’.

TOP TIP: You are not limited to having the Panels stuck in the Panels area. If you want, you can have a panel floating in the Document Window by simply clicking and dragging it to where you want.

Likewise, if there is a Panel that is sitting in the icon stack to the left of the main Panels, you can make that float in the same way, or, you can even move it from the stack and into the main Panels. It then sits as a dedicated tab!

How To Display Or Hide Guides

Guides are a useful tool when you need to align elements of your image, or if you are creating layouts. Illustrated above, is an image with vertical and horizontal guides added to check the alignment of the building.

To access Guides, you first need to make sure Rulers are visible. Toggle Rulers on (or off) using Command R (on a Mac) or Control R (on a PC). You can also use the Application Bar and ‘View > Rulers’. To make a vertical guide click and drag from the ruler at the left-hand-side of the Document Window onto your image. Likewise, to make a horizontal guide, click and drag from the ruler at the top of the Document Window onto your image. To delete a guide drag it from your image and back onto the ruler.  

If you are making a layout, it can be useful to have precise measurements for the position of your guides. Therefore, you can also create guides by heading up to the Application Bar and selecting ‘View > New Guide’; and then tailoring the guide using the displayed parameters.

How To Change The Document Window Color

To change the color of the Document Window, right-click outside of your image and then select from the list of colors available. 

The default colors are quite neutral, but if you want something brighter, then just select the custom color option and use the color picker to select whatever color you fancy.

How To Display A Full-Screen View

For a completely clean interface like the one above, you can just press the TAB key, which is a full-screen view including the Application Bar. 

Press TAB again to return to the Standard View. You can also achieve the same through the Application Bar by selecting ‘View > Screen Mode. You are then presented with a third option to display a completely full-screen Mode without the Application Bar visible.

There is also a rather useful fourth mode which is accessed using Shift-Tab. This collapses the panel view into icons so that you maximize your screen space and can keep working with the Tool Panel.

Display Multiple Documents In The Document Window

When you open multiple documents in Photoshop, the default configuration is for each to appear as a selectable tab along the top of the Document Window. But if you want them all to appear at once, then head up to the Application Bar and select ‘Window > Arrange’. Now, select from the modes available/displayed.

The mode illustrated below is ‘4-up’ and automatically puts everything into a grid equally sized. To get back to the default mode go back to the Application Bar and select ‘Window > Arrange >Consolidate All to Tabs’.

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