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Many of Photoshop's commands and features are located in its panels. There are many panels. And I think the best approach for you to take to panels is to think about the ones that you really need at the moment for the task that you're doing and close all of the rest of them so you don't have a bunch of clutter in front of you. Right now, we're looking at the default setup for panels here on the right. As you can see, the panels are arranged in groups. So for example, in the first group here, we've got three panels, and we can cycle among them by just clicking on their tabs in the group.
Now let's say we don't need any of these particular panels for the task that we're doing. We can close the entire group by going to this icon on the right side of the group. This is the panel menu icon and it's a really important one to know about, yet it's hard for many people to find and every panel group has one. If you click there, you'll find all kinds of commands and items related to the selected panel. And way at the bottom, you'll find commands to close the entire group or just to close the selected panel.
I am going to close this entire group. So that's how you close a panel or a panel group. How do you open a panel that's not showing. You go to the Window menu at the top of the screen, and you find the panel you want. I often work, for example, with the History panel open. We'll learn about the History panel in another movie, but basically it keeps track of all of the actions that you've taken in the order you've taken them. It allows you to go back and fix mistakes. When I open that panel, it appears in a second column here and it is flipped out so that it's ready to use.
If you want to collapse a panel to its column, you can click this double-pointed arrow, and that's a really good thing to do I think, because it gives you more room to work, and you have less distracting items on the screen. So sometimes if I have two columns of panels as I do now, I'll just click the double-pointed arrows on both to get them out of the way. When you close panels down to their icons, you can either see just the icons, or if you click-and-drag, you can see labels for the icons and those can prove helpful. The other thing you can do with your panels is to join them together so that you have the most important ones always together and you can move them around the screen and put them wherever you want.
So for example I'm going to open my Layers panel by clicking on its icon here, and I am going to drag it out of its panel group and out of these docked columns by clicking on its tab and dragging like this. Then I'm going to close the rest of these panels by clicking the double-pointed arrow. Now, I am going to get the other panel that's most important to me right now, the History panel. I'll click on it and I'll drag it out of its group and close its group. Now, I am going to join these two panels together by dragging the History panel by its tab and butting it up against the bottom of the Layers panel.
Now they are joined together. And if I click on this top bar here, I can drag and move them anywhere on my screen. I can also collapse them if I want to icons by clicking the double-pointed arrow, just like I can do with the docked columns of panels. A new feature in Photoshop CS4 is the ability to take this entire iconized column and drag it over to a second monitor so that you can devote your main monitor to your document and put all your panels over on a second monitor out of the way. Sometimes you are going to want to get all your panels out of view temporarily.
To do that, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and press the Tab key and all the panels disappear. To bring them back, you can toggle with the same shortcut, Shift+Tab. So those are some ways to handle the many panels that are available to you in Photoshop. The main idea is to figure out which panels you need at any given time. Close everything else and get the panels that you need arranged in the way that works best for you. Consider closing all the panels that you don't need and organizing and arranging those you do need so that they are most useful for you to accomplish your tasks.
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