Adobe CS5 Illustrator Panels - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

The standardized interface in Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) is a useful boost for users because the Illustrator panel system is similar to all other products in the suite. This consistency makes working and finding tools and features easier.

When you first open Illustrator, notice that some panels have been reduced to icons on the right. To select a panel, click the appropriate icon and the panel appears.

If all you see is an icon, how do you know which icon brings up which panel? Good question. If you’re hunting around for the appropriate panels, you can

  • Choose Window→Name of Panel.

  • Position your mouse on the left side of the icons and when you see the double-arrow icon, click and drag to the left. The panel names appear.

  • Click the Expand Panels button on the gray bar at the top of the icons so that you can see their contents and names.


    The panels you see as a default are docked together. To dock a panel means that, for organizational purposes, the panel is attached in the docking area.

    You can arrange panels to make them more helpful for production. You may choose to have only certain panels visible while working.

  • To see additional options for each panel (because some options are hidden), click the panel menu in the upper right corner of the panel.


    To move a panel group, click and drag above the tabbed panel name.

    To rearrange or separate a panel from its group, drag the panel’s tab. Dragging a tab outside the docking area creates a new, separate panel.

    To move a tab to another panel, drag the tab to that panel.

Look out for those panels — they can take over your screen! Some panels, but not all, can be resized. A panel that you can resize has an active lower right corner (denoted by three small lines). To change the size of a panel, drag its lower right corner (Windows) or drag the size box in the lower right corner of the panel (Mac).

As you become more efficient, you may find it helpful to reduce the clutter on your screen by hiding all panels except the ones necessary for your work. You can save your own panel configuration by choosing Window→Workspace→Save Workspace. Choose Window→Workspace→Essentials to return to the default workspace.