Photoshop Element 12’s Image Window at a Glance - dummies

Photoshop Element 12’s Image Window at a Glance

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The first thing you need to know about examining an image in Photoshop Elements is how to open it in the Image window. The Image window in the Photo Editor is where your photos open, ready for editing. To open an image in the Photo Editor, you have a few options available to you.

Like almost all programs, Elements supports choosing File→Open. When you use that menu command, a dialog box opens, enabling you to navigate your hard drive and select a photo. Click the Open button, and the photo opens in the Image window.

Another method for opening photos is to use the Organizer, where you select one or more photos you want to edit.

  1. Open the Organizer.

    You can launch Photoshop Elements and click the Organizer button on the Welcome screen to open the Organizer window; or, if you’re in an edit mode now, click the Organizer button at the bottom of the Photo Editor window.

  2. Click a photo thumbnail in the Organizer window.

    Following this step presumes that you have photos in the default catalog.

  3. Click Editor at the bottom of the Organizer window or press Ctrl+I/Cmd+I.

    The photo opens in the Image window, as shown in the figure. By default and unless you made any changes to the Photo Editor Preferences, the photo appears as a tab in the Photo Editor. In the figure, the photo has been dragged away from the top so that it appears as a floating window.


This figure highlights several important items when you view photos in the Image window:

  • The filename appears in the upper-left corner of the photo (above the center on the Mac). Double-check the name to be certain that the photo you want to edit is the correct image.

  • Scroll bars become active when you zoom in on an image. You can click the scroll arrows, move the scroll bar, or grab the Hand tool in the Tools panel and then drag within the window to move the image.

  • The Magnification box shows you at a glance how much you’ve zoomed in or out.

  • The Information box shows you the readout for a particular tidbit of information. You can choose which information you want to see in this area by choosing an option from the pop-up menu.

    When you’re working on an image in Elements, you should know its physical image size, image resolution, and color mode. Regardless of which menu option you choose from the Information box, you can get a quick glimpse of these essential statistics by clicking the Information box, which displays a pop-up menu like the one shown in this figure.


  • The Size box enables you to resize the window. Move the cursor to the box, and a diagonal line with two opposing arrows appears. When the cursor changes, drag in or out to size the window smaller or larger, respectively.

    You can also resize the window by dragging any other corner in or out.

  • You can click the Close button that appears as an X in Windows (upper-right corner as shown in the figure) or like a red button (upper-left corner on the Mac) to close the active Image window and keep Elements open. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+W (Cmd+W on the Mac) or choose File→Close to close the active window.

When you’re familiar with the overall Image window, you should learn about the Information box’s other drop-down menu, in which you choose the type of information you want to view in the Information box. Click the right-pointing arrow (not the information in the box itself) to open the menu, as shown in this figure.


Here’s the lowdown on the options you find on the drop-down menu:

  • Document Sizes: Shows you the saved file size.

  • Document Profile: Shows you the color profile used with the file.

  • Document Dimensions: Shows you the physical size in the default unit of measure, such as inches.

  • Current Selected Layer: This item has been added in Elements 12. When you click Current Selected Layer, the layer name appears adjacent to the right-pointing arrow that opens the pop-up menu.

  • Scratch Sizes: Displays the amount of memory on your hard drive that’s consumed by all documents open in Elements. The scratch space is the extension of RAM created by a space on your hard drive.

    For example, 20M/200M indicates that the open documents consume 20 megabytes (M) and that a total of 200 megabytes is available for Elements to edit your images. When you add more content to a file, such as new layers, the first number grows while the second number remains static.

  • Efficiency: Indicates how many operations are being performed in RAM as opposed to using your scratch disk. When the number is 100 percent, you’re working in RAM. When the number drops below 100 percent, you’re using the scratch disk.

    Continually working below 100 percent is a good indication that you need to buy more RAM to increase efficiency.

  • Timing: Indicates the time it took to complete the last operation.

  • Current Tool: Shows the name of the tool selected from the Tools panel.

Don’t worry about trying to understand all these terms. The important thing to know is that you can visit the drop-down menu to change the items at will during your editing sessions.

The Image window is just one small part of the user interface in Elements. To get the full picture, imagine that when a photo opens in the Photo Editor, you see the Image window contained within the workspace as a whole, where you have access to tools, panels, and menus to choose from a variety of editing options.