How to Adjust Photoshop CS6 Panels
Many image-oriented programs use panels of a sort, and Photoshop CS6 has had panels (formerly called palettes) since version 1.0. However, since Photoshop 3.0, the program has used a novel way of working with panels. Rather than standalone windows, Photoshop uses grouped, tabbed panels, which overlap each other in groups of two or three (or more, if you rearrange them yourself).
To access a panel that falls behind the one displayed on top, click the panel’s tab. By default, some panels, such as Tool Presets, appear alone.
Many panels — such as the Brush, Styles, Actions, and Swatches panels — include options for defining sets of parameters (called presets) that you can store for reuse at any time.
Here’s how to open, close, and otherwise manipulate a panel group, which can be accessed easily from the Window menu:
To expand a panel: Panels are represented by icons when collapsed. To expand a panel, simply click its icon. You can also select a panel by choosing it in the Window menu.
To bring a panel to the front of its group: When the panel group is expanded, the visible panel is the panel that has a check mark next to it on the Window menu. In this mode, you can select only one panel in any group because only one tab in a group can be on top at one time.
When you select a panel from the Window menu, you have no way of knowing which panels are grouped together because Adobe lists panels alphabetically, rather than by groups. To bring a specific panel to the front, click its tab (when expanded) or icon (when collapsed).
To move a panel out of its group: Grab the panel’s tab with your mouse and drag it to its new location, such as another group, the panel dock, or the Photoshop desktop. If you move the panels out of their groups or drag them onto the desktop so they stand alone, any of them can be selected in the Window menu.
To collapse a panel: Click the gray area next to the tab.
To close a panel: Select a check-marked panel in the Window menu. The whole panel group closes. You can also select Close or Close Tab Group from the panel’s pop-up menu.
Here are some more panel-manipulation tips:
Expand or collapse the dock. To do so, click on the double triangles at the top of the dock.
Reduce a panel to its icon. Drag the panel by its tab and position it below the existing column of icons. Release your mouse button to make the panel collapse to its corresponding icon.
Save space by keeping panels in groups. You can move all the panels in a group by dragging the gray area to the right of the group’s tab. Access an individual panel by clicking its tab to bring it to the front. As a result, several panels occupy the screen space required by only one.
Use the Window menu if you can’t find a panel. On the Window menu, select the panel’s name to make it visible or to bring it to the top of its group.
Customize, customize, customize. After you use Photoshop for a while, creating your own custom panel groups based on the panels you most often use can be a real timesaver.
For example, if you don’t use the Paths panel very often but can’t live without the Actions panel, you can drag the Paths panel to another group or to the panel dock area, and put the Actions panel in the same group as the mission-critical Layers and Channels panels.
Restore default panel locations, when desired. If you decide you don’t like the way you’ve arranged your panels, you can choose Window→Workspace→Essentials (Default) to return them to the default configuration (the way they were when Photoshop was installed).