A big selling point for many web sites over the past few years (be it a consumer site or a corporate intranet site) has been personalization capabilities. Companies try to enhance the end user's experience by making it feel as if there is a personal connection between you, the user, and the information on the site. I don't just mean the fact that you get that cute little greeting that says "Welcome back, Mr. Chominsky." I'm talking about taking advantage of the power to have the content and information that is specifically relevant to you... what you want to see. If I can log onto a site and have all the information and resources that I'm looking for appear in front of me quickly and easily, that saves me a great deal of time and allows me to move ahead efficiently with what I need to get accomplished.
Fortunately, software developers understand the power of personalization. No, not with the stupid greetingsbut by offering the user the power of customization and optimization within the application. These days, no matter what industry you're in, there never seems to be enough time to "work at your own pace." Deadlines loom over our heads constantly. This time constraint is especially true for graphic designers, and it's hard to be in a creative mindset when working under the pressures of a due date. Well, Adobe engineers have taken your precious time into consideration and now allow you to set up and customize your working environment to be able to work more efficiently.
Making Workspaces Work for You
Adobe Photoshop (like most of the other members of the Adobe family of products) enables you to set up and save your own custom work areas, known as workspaces, onscreen. Photoshop allows you to create and save as many different workspaces as you need. Keep in mind that just because you can create a virtually unlimited number of workspaces, there probably isn't a need to have more than five or six. Anything more, and you're probably wasting time trying to switch between your workspace templates (and not concentrating on your creative efforts). The concept of customizing workspaces is to allow you to work at your comfort level, maximize time and efficiency, and avoid clutter by having the right resources available when you want them.
Like many beginners, you might start out by asking me "How should I set up my palettes?" The simple answer is "I don't know. There is no right way." I'm not giving you a copout answer; I really have no idea what type of work you'll be doing. You should start off with the default settings and alter them as you see fit. After you start working, you'll realize which features and palettes you use most often. If you find yourself constantly needing and opening a particular window, you may want to consider having that one available as one of the "main" palettes in your workspace.
Taking the concept one step further, customizing workspaces becomes extremely handy when you start realizing that certain groupings of palettes work best when performing specific tasks. For instance, when I'm working on masking an image, there are certain tools and palettes I keep open for performing that function. These are the tools and resources that are related to performing image masking. Therefore, I have a workspace saved called "masking." With two clicks of the mouse, I can recall all the palettes I need with the ideal settings that I typically use for masking images. When I'm working on color-correcting images, I usually need a totally different set of palettes and resource (different from the ones I use for image masking). Same concept... with two clicks of the mouse, I can bring up my color-correcting palettes exactly in the place where I like them. (I bet you can't guess what I've named this workspace.)