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Configuring the panels

Most edits made in Photoshop require the use of one panel or another. Clever design features make the panels easy to store, expand, and collapse so they don’t intrude on document space when you’re not using them. Although such a flexible system may seem a bit complex at first, in no time the mechanics will become second nature to you. Note: To learn the function of the individual panels, see the next chapter.

Hide or show all the panels: Press Tab to hide or show all open panels, including the Tools panel, or press Shift-Tab to hide or show all the panels except the Tools panel. To fully maximize your screen space, hide the currently open panels, then show them only when you need to use them. If you hide the panels when Photoshop is in Standard screen mode (and if the Application frame is displayed), the tabbed document window enlarges to fill the frame. Redisplay the panels, and the window shrinks back down.

Make hidden, docked panels reappear:

With the panels hidden as per the instructions above, move the pointer to the very edge of the Application frame or your monitor, depending on the screen mode. The panel docks (but not freestanding panels) will redisplay temporarily.AB Move the pointer away from the panels, and they’ll disappear again. (If this mechanism doesn’t work, go to Preferences > Interface and check Auto-Show Hidden Panels.)

In the predefined workspaces (which are accessed from the Workspace menu on the far right end of the Application bar), panels are arranged in docks on the right side of your screen A—except for the Tools panel, which is on the left side. Each dock can hold as many or as few panels or panel groups as you like. We’ll show you how to reconfigure the panel groups and docks to suit your working style.

Show or hide an individual panel: To show a panel, choose the panel name from the Window menu. The panel will display either in its default group and dock or in its last location. To bring a panel to the front of its group, click the tab (panel name). A few of the panels can also be shown or hidden via keyboard shortcuts, which are listed on the Window menu.

Show or hide an individual panel (icon): Click the icon or panel name. If Auto-Collapse Iconic Panels is checked in Preferences > Interface and you open a panel from an icon, it collapses back to the icon when you click elsewhere. With this preference unchecked, the panel stays expanded. To collapse a panel, click the Collapse to Icons button double-arrow.jpg on the panel bar, or click the panel icon or tab.

Maximize or minimize a panel (non-icon) or group (toggle the full panel to just a panel tab, or vice versa): Double-click the panel tab; or click the title bar (medium-gray bar next to the panel tabs).

Use a panel menu: Click the panel-menu-button.jpg icon to open a menu for whichever panel is in the front in a particular group.

Close a panel or group: To close (but not collapse) a panel, choose Close from the bottom of the panel menu. To close a panel group, choose Close Tab Group from the panel menu. Both commands can also be accessed from a context menu by right-clicking/Control-clicking the panel tab. To close a group that’s an icon, expand the dock first by clicking the Expand Panels button.left-double-arrows.jpg (To reopen a closed panel, use the Window menu.)

Collapse a whole dock into icons or icons with names: Click the Collapse to Icons button double-arrow.jpg or the dark gray bar at the top of the dock.B To further collapse the dock to just icons (no names), drag the vertical edge of the dock inward horizontally (C, previous page); to expand the dock, click the dark gray bar again.

Widen or narrow a dock and panels: Position the mouse over the vertical edge of the dock (left-right-arrow.jpgcursor), then drag sideways. To widen or narrow the Adjustments panel, click the Expanded View button.expanded-view-button.jpg (Not all panels are resizable.)

Lengthen or shorten a panel, group, or dock (in the Mac OS, when the Application frame is hidden): Position the mouse over the dark gray line at the bottom of the panel or dock (up_down-arrow.jpgcursor), then drag upward or downward. Other panels and groups in the same group or dock will scale accordingly. (Not all panels can be lengthened or shortened.)

Move a panel to a different slot, same group: Drag the panel tab (name) horizontally.

Move a panel to a different group: Drag the panel tab over the title bar of the desired group, and release when the blue drop zone border appears.A

Move a panel group upward or downward in a dock: Drag the title bar, and release the mouse when the horizontal blue drop zone bar appears in the desired location.B

Create a new dock: Drag a panel tab or title bar sideways over the vertical edge of the dock,C and release when you see the blue vertical drop zone bar.

Make a panel or group free-floating: Drag the panel tab, icon, or title bar out of the dock. You can stack free-floating panels and groups top to bottom.

Reconfigure a dock (icon): Use similar methods as for an expanded group. Drag the group title bar over the edge of a dock to create a new dock; or drag the title bar between groups to restack it (look for a horizontal drop zone line); or drag the title bar into another group to combine it with that group (look for a blue drop zone border).

  • To reset the panels to their default locations and visibility states, choose Essentials from the Workspace menu on the Application bar.
  • For any tool that uses a brush, you can click the Toggle Panel button toggle-panel-button.jpg on the Options bar to show or hide the Brushes panel. For the Type tool, this button opens the Character panel.
  • To redock floating panels into the Application frame, drag the dark gray bar at the top of the panel group to the right edge of the Application frame, and release the mouse when you see the vertical blue drop zone line.
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