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How to Use the Navigator Panel in Photoshop CS6

Some Photoshop CS6 users don’t use the Navigator panel (which is a roadmap to your image document) nearly as often as they could, and there’s a simple reason for that: In its default size, the Navigator panel is just too darned small to be of use.

Most new Photoshop users see the tiny Navigator window and decide that working with such a small thumbnail image isn’t worth the bother. There’s a quick fix, and after you’ve seen exactly what the Navigator panel can do for you, it may become one of your favorite tools. Here are the keys to using the Navigator panel, which you open by choosing Window→Navigator:

  • Resize the Navigator panel. Before you begin working with the Navigator panel, grab the size box at the lower-right corner of the Navigator panel and drag it down and to the right to create a jumbo version with a much larger, more viewable thumbnail. It’s easiest to resize when you pull the panel out of the dock and let it float.

    Resizing works really well if you’re using a second monitor. Placing the jumbo-sized Navigator panel on the second monitor works great.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/HannamariaH/Image #5051437]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/HannamariaH/Image #5051437

    The Navigator panel is one panel that you probably want readily accessible. It’s most useful when it’s visible at all times. Undock the Navigator panel by pulling the tab of the panel to the left. Position the Navigator panel to one side of your image so it’s ready for instant use.

  • View the thumbnail. The entire Navigator window shows the full document image, with an outline called a View box showing the amount of image visible in the document window at the current zoom level.

  • Change the view. Click anywhere in the thumbnail outside the View box to center the box at that position. The comparable view in your main document window changes to match.

  • Move the view. Click anywhere in the thumbnail inside the View box and then drag to move the box to a new position. The main document window changes to match the new view.

  • Zoom in or out. Click the Zoom In button (which has an icon of two large pyramids) or Zoom Out button (which has an icon of two smaller pyramids) to zoom in or out. Or drag the Zoom slider that resides between the two icons.

    The View box changes size when you zoom in or out, and Photoshop magnifies or reduces the view in the original document window to match, as well.

  • Specify an exact magnification. The lower-left corner of the Navigator panel has a Magnification box. It shows the current magnification, and you can type a new value to zoom to the exact magnification level you need.

If the View box color is too similar to a dominant color in your image, you can select a new color for its outline by selecting Panel Options from the Navigator panel pop-up menu.

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