Before we begin, you’ll want to know about tabbed browsing (especially if you’re coming to CS5 from CS3), and how Adobe tweaked workspaces in CS5 (workspaces are just various layouts of panels that you use depending on what you’re working on—you might use one set of panels when you’re retouching photos, but a different set when you’re painting. You set things up so you have just what you need visible when you need it). They’re really handy, but Adobe changed something in CS5 that is either really good or kinda weird (decide for yourself).
Back in CS4, Adobe introduced tabbed documents to help you manage all your open images (so opened documents appear as tabs at the top of the current window, as seen here, kind of like tabs in a Web browser). To see any tabbed image, just click on the tab (as shown here), or you can toggle through the tabs by pressing Control-Tab.
Turning Off the Tabs
One of the most popular questions I hear to this day is: “How do you turn those tabbed documents off?” You can turn this tabbing off by going under the Photoshop (PC: Edit) menu, under Preferences, and choosing Interface, then turning off the checkbox for Open Documents as Tabs. Also, you’ll probably want to turn off the Enable Floating Document Window Docking checkbox (right below it), too, or it will dock your single open image.
Setting Up Your Workspace
CS5 comes with a number of built-in work space layouts for different tasks (like painting, or photography, or design, etc.) with just the panels visible Adobe thought you’d need. You can find them by clicking on the double-arrow button to the right of the workspaces in the Application Bar (shown circled here). I use one layout all the time for my own work (it’s shown here). To create your own custom workspace layout, just click-and-drag the panels where you want them. To nest a panel (so they appear one in front of another), drag one panel over the other. When you see a blue outline appear, release the mouse button and it nests. If you need more panels, they’re under the Window menu.
Once your panels are set up where you want them, go under the Window menu, under Workspace, and choose New Workspace, so you can save your layout so it’s always one click away (it will appear as a button in the Application Bar, as seen here). In CS5, Adobe changed things, so if you use a workspace and change a panel’s location, it remembers. That’s okay, but you’d think that clicking on your workspace would return things to normal. It doesn’t. Instead, you have to go under the Window menu, under Workspace, and choose Reset [your workspace name]. It’s weird, I know.