The Photoshop Workspace

Photoshop's "out of the box" workspace consists of the following components:

menu bar

You will probably already be familiar with the menu bar from other programs. This runs across the top of your Photoshop window, and contains various menu options for Photoshop's tools.

■ options bar The options bar sits beneath the menu bar and holds contextualized options for different tools. It also contains the palette well, where you can "dock" palettes.


By default, the toolbox sits to the left of your Photoshop window, and contains shortcuts to Photoshop tools.

Individual "panes" that hold information or options for working with your file, known as palettes, float on the right-hand side. Each palette is labeled with a tab, and can be minimized, closed, grouped with other palettes, or dragged to the palette well. In the example at the top of the next page, the Navigator palette contains a thumbnail of the image that allows you to zoom in or out of the image quickly, and to change the part of the image displayed on the screen.

document windows

Each open document has its own document window with a status bar along the bottom. The status bar sits to the right of the zoom percentage displayed in the bottom left-hand corner, and displays information that's specific to the document.

Now that you re going to be working in Photoshop, you might want to start talking like a designer. Designers, like professionals in most specialist fields, have their own terminology and words for things. A comp (short for "composite") refers to a mockup of the final solution that a designer has in mind. Traditionally, "comp" is used in the print world to refer to page layouts, but for web designers it usually refers to a static interface prepared entirely in Photoshop for the client to look over before he or she decides to proceed. You might even hear it being used as a verb: "comping" is the process of creating that mockup site.

options bar menu bar palette well

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Photoshop Workspace Document Window

toolbox status bar document window palettes toolbox status bar document window palettes

The Photoshop workspace

Customizing your Workspace

You can customize your Photoshop workspace to suit you or your project—almost everything within your workspace can be repositioned and reconfigured! You might choose to customize your workspace by:

changing the look of the menu bar

You can change which menu items are visible in your menu bar, and even add color to your menu items. If you wanted, you could also assign new or different keyboard shortcuts to menu commands (which I don't recommend until you feel very comfortable with Photoshop or have a compelling reason to do so!). Go to Edit > Menus and use the dialog box to modify the menu bar and palette menus.

moving the options bar

If you want to move the options bar, you can do so by clicking on the handle on its left side and moving it around. The options bar will "dock" to the top or bottom of the screen automatically if moved near those areas.

moving the toolbox

The toolbox is extremely portable, and can be moved to any location on your screen. Move the toolbox by clicking on the gray area at the top of it and dragging it around.

rearranging palettes

There are many ways to rearrange your palettes. You might want to separate a palette from its palette group, and move it into another group. You can do this by dragging the palette tab out of its original group and into the new group. You might also decide to drag some of your palette tabs into the palette well, and close the rest. To display a palette that has been closed, go to Window and select the palette you want to show.

displaying different information in the document window status bar

The status bar displays the document file size by default. The file size is shown as two numbers separated by a forward slash: the first number is an approximation of the image file size with all layers merged (known as "flattening" the image), and the second number is an approximation of the total file size of the image with layers intact. If all this sounds new to you, don't worry—we'll be discussing layers shortly. You can set the status bar to display different information, such as the document dimension in pixels, or the version number of the file. To do this, click on the arrow icon next to the status bar, select Show and choose the information you'd like to see.

Saving your Customized Workspace

As you become more proficient with Photoshop, you may discover that you use certain sets of palettes for different types of projects, and that there are some palettes that you don't use at all. Photoshop allows you to save and load different

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Changing the status bar workspaces—different arrangements of palettes, menus, and even different keyboard shortcuts—to help you work more efficiently.

After you've customized your workspace to your satisfaction, select Window > Workspace > Save Workspace from the menu bar and enter a name for your workspace, such as Creating Thumbnails or My Default Workspace. You can then load your different workspaces by opening Window > Workspace and selecting your custom workspace from the menu list.

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