I find it to be well worth my time to configure the panels that I am going to be using for a project or specific type of task and then save them as a custom workspace. For example, when I am compositing multiple images together, I use very different sets of panels than I might when working on a document that is text heavy.
Below is a screenshot showing how I arrange my panels for compositing. I dock the panels that I use most often to the Tools (on the left side of the screen). This saves significant time over the course of the day by eliminating the need to travel back and forth across my monitor to select different panel options, tools, and tool options. I have also placed the Properties panel below the Layers panel so that when I add an adjustment layer, my cursor is automatically above the options for that layer.
This video (although recorded a while back) demonstrates how to streamline Phostoshop for your specific needs through the customization of Workspaces, Menus, Keyboard shortcuts, Preferences, Tool Presets, Palette options, and the Preset Manager.
Just because Photoshop ships with the tools on the left and the Panels on the right of the display, it doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way! When working at home, I actually prefer to put the tools on the right of my screen so that they are closer to the panels and I don’t have to waste time moving back and fourth to select tools and then change panel options (like selecting layers, adding Adjustment layers etc.). Or, if you want to force yourself to learn the shortcuts for all of the tools, simply hide the tool panel for a week. Note: to hide the tools select Window > Tools.
After yesterday’s post I was reminded that I had previously created a much longer video that covered not only Tool Presets but also the customization of Workspaces, Menus, Keyboard shortcuts, Preferences, Palette Options, the Preset Manager and more! Although it was recorded with Photoshop CS4, the tips and techniques that I cover are just as useful today as they were then.
PSCS5 – Workspaces (used to save custom layouts of panels, keyboard shortcuts and menu items) are now displayed by name on the right side of the Application Bar. To view more (or fewer) workspaces, drag the Grabber Bar (to the left of the list of workspaces) to expand/contract the list. To prioritize (reorder) your workspaces, simply drag and drop the name of a workspace to a new location.
As Photoshop offers more features and tools, I find it useful to save not only panel locations for different tasks, but also sets of keyboard shortcuts. For example, when working with painting, I can remove some of the shortcuts that I might use for accessing other tools and assign them to brushes instead. (perhaps I don’t use Quick Mask or the Quick Selection tools while painting, I can assign “Q” to Load Mixer Brush and “W” to Clean MIxer Brush). To save keyboard shortcuts, select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts and click the save icon next to the Set option. Then, save the set as a part of your workspace (Window > Workspace > New Workspace, then capture Keyboard Shortcuts).
Most people typically use a subset of the many panels that Photoshop CS4 has to offer at any given time. For example, if you are color correcting an image, then you may want the Info, Histogram and Layers panels showing. If you are recording actions to help automate tasks, you might want the Actions, History and Layers panels open. The easiest way to switch between the sets of panels that you might need for different tasks is to save them as workspaces.
Rearrange the panels the way that you desire and then use the Workspace Picker (on the far right side of the Application Bar) to save the workspace. (Workspaces can also be saved via Window > Workspace > Save Workspace.) Workspaces can also contain custom Keyboard Shortcuts and Menu items.
At the top of the Workspace Picker list you will see any custom workspaces that you have saved as well as the default workspaces that ship with Photoshop CS4. Simply click to select the desired workspace from the list. Try selecting the ” What’s new in CS4” workspace – it will highlight all of the menu items in Photoshop CS4 that have been modified!