How to Use Photoshop’s Interface Efficiently

The Photoshop Interface:

  • In order to set up your workspace,
    you need to know what tools are available to you, how they behave, and what are
    the options. All of these things combined are called the interface, so let’s
    get to know it.
  • The big central area is called
    Canvas.

What is in the canvas area:

  • This is where your image will be
    displayed, therefore it’s quite an important component. All around the canvas
    area you’ll find tools and information to help you manage your image.
  • On the right-hand side, you have
    the panels. There are tabs here that provide you with information about what
    you have on the canvas. Which tabs are there is entirely up to you as it is
    completely customizable, but I’ll get to that later on.
  • On the left-hand side, you’ll find
    the Toolbox which, as the name suggests, contains the various tools you can
    use to modify your image. I’ll show you later how it can be moved but as a
    default, you’ll find it here.
  • On top, there’s the Option bar
    which provides the setting options for each tool that you select from the toolbar, therefore it is constantly changing.
  • And on top of that, you’ll find
    the menu bar with many options to control your canvas, file, and interface.

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The Photoshop Interface:

  • In order to set up your workspace, you need to know what
    tools are available to you, how they behave, and what are the options. All of
    these things combined are called the interface, so let’s get to know it.
  • The big central area is called Canvas.

What is in the canvas area:

  • This is where your image will be
    displayed, therefore it’s quite an important component. All around the canvas
    area you’ll find tools and information to help you manage your image.
  • On the right-hand side, you have
    the panels. There are tabs here that provide you with information about what
    you have on the canvas. Which tabs are there is entirely up to you as it is
    completely customizable, but I’ll get to that later on.
  • On the left-hand side, you’ll find
    the Tool box which, as the name suggests, contains the various tools you can
    use to modify your image. I’ll show you later how it can be moved but as a
    default, you’ll find it here.
  • On top, there’s the Option bar
    which provides the setting options for each tool that you select from the Tool
    bar, therefore it is constantly changing.
  • And on top of that, you’ll find
    the menu bar with many options to control your canvas, file, and interface.

  • When you put together these sections you can transform your
    workspace. Now that you know what everything is and where to find it you can
    start personalizing it according to your needs. Let’s get to it.

Personalizing your workspace:

  • The very first thing that catches
    your eye, and therefore is something you want to decide, is the color. If you
    go to Menu > Photoshop > Preferences > Interface you’ll find the
    options.

  • You’ll notice on the image below
    that I have used the lightest shade of grey. But the choice is completely
    personal, try all of them and see which suits you best.
  • No matter which one of those you
    choose, you can change the color of the canvas any time because each photo may
    need a different background.
  • For example, if you are working on
    a black canvas and you start working on a black photo you might not be able to
    see the edges of the image. Just right-click anywhere on the canvas area and
    choose any of the default colors or make a custom one.
  • I’ll make it a really evident
    green, not because it’s something I would recommend using, but because I want
    you to be clear on which area is changing with this option.

Usability and function:

  • Now that you fixed the look of
    your Photoshop interface and workspace, it’s time to move to the practicality
    aspects.
  • As a starting point, you can use
    any of the default workspace that Photoshop has built-in. To find them just go
    to the drop-down menu on the top right corner. Feel free to try them all out.
  • However, since you are reading
    this in a Digital Photography School article, I’ll suggest you start with the
    Photography Workspace and we’ll start building up from there.

  • To start personalizing, it’s worth knowing that most panels
    can be detached and dragged anywhere on your workspace. You can just click on
    the top of the panel where there is a dotted line and let go wherever you want
    the panel situated.

  • However, this can get very messy
    really quickly. So if you want to move the panels around, I suggest you still
    attach them into another available slot. To find them just hover over the
    workspace and look for the blue lines as they indicate snapping points.

Panels:

  • Let’s now focus on the panel area
    as it’s the most flexible of all. In here, you have different information
    windows in tabs that can be grouped or stacked. You may think that it would be
    helpful to have all of them open but that would take away space on the canvas
    for your image.
  • So it is actually much more
    practical to have as little as possible opened at one time. Therefore, let’s
    start by closing the ones you don’t need from the default setup. To close a tab
    just go to the top right corner of the tab and click on the drop-down menu,
    from there choose “Close”.

  • You’ll notice that the panel area is divided into smaller
    boxes. This is because tabs can be grouped. To move tabs from one group to
    another just drag them. And to close an entire group just choose Close Tab
    Group instead of Close from the drop-down menu.

Editing the Panels:

  • If you need a panel that didn’t
    come with the default preset, you can access it by going to Menu > Window
    and select the desired option. It will be dropped into the collapsible column
    on the left of the panels which is a collapsible extension of the panels.
  • If you need it open all the time,
    like the Layer panel for example, then you can have it on the right so it
    displays all the information all the time. But if it’s something you need just
    on occasion, you can keep it collapsed on the left and just click on it when
    you need it.
  • If you don’t need a panel at all
    you can always make it disappear from that column just by right-clicking it and
    then choosing “Close”.

  • This column can also be customized
    to show the icon and name of the panel or just the icon. Just click on the
    arrow at the top to choose.
  • While I’m on that, let me
    tell you that the Tool Bar has a similar feature by giving you the choice of
    one or two columns. Keep in mind that expanding it means losing Canvas space,
    so I like to keep it in the slimmer version.

Finishing up:

  • Now you know how to customize your
    Photoshop interface and workspace.
  • But, if you work on different
    projects (i.e you’re a photographer but also do design) you may need different
    workspaces according to each specific needs. Or if you use a shared computer
    with another family member or a co-worker then you also might need different
    workspaces for each of you.
  • This is why you want to save your
    customized workspace so you can come back to it easily each time without the
    need for repeating this process.
  • To do this, go back to the
    drop-down menu of the top-right corner and choose New Workspace. Name it and go
    back to it any time you need.

  • Furthermore, if you are in your
    workspace but still find that are some changes from how it’s supposed to look,
    just click reset and everything will be back to normal. One last tip, from the
    bottom of the Tool box you can also choose the screen mode you want to use.

Okay, no more procrastination, get to work!

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