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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
So let's experiment and play around with the different ways you can manage your panels inside Photoshop CS4. If you look over here in the right hand side, I've got my Essentials workspace chosen. That's the default configuration for our panels, and you can see that this is the default arrangement in which panels are opened by default as well. You see that these panels sit inside a dock. These docks can be collapsed down to an iconic view. I just click anywhere in this dark gray area at the very top of the dock to switch it back and forth. I'll talk more about that in just a second. If I don't particularly like the arrangement of these panels, I can of course customize it to the Nth degree. So, for instance, if I want Swatches to be first in this particular group. So this is a group of panels, these three tabs are grouped together. If I click on Swatches and drag it to the left, I can change the order and make that the first panel in the group, so that's completely up to you how you want to do it.
If you want to remove a panel from a group, you no longer have a close box on the group, you used to either click to the right of the panel name, now you just right-click or Ctrl-click on the actual tab and you get the option to close it right there. So I'll remove it from the group. If I want to move an entire group within the dock and reorder the group, you can certainly do that. Click on the medium-gray, anywhere where there is not a tab name within the group area. So if I click here and drag it down between this other group, I can rearrange it there or if I want to move it all the way to the bottom, I can do that as well, like so.
I kind of like to have my Layers panel at the top, so let's go ahead and do that. I'm going to click on the gray area in the tab section and we'll move that to the top of the group and then I like collapsing certain panels. And the old school method as you just double- click on the actual name of the panel, but I find it's actually easier just to use the new method for that. If you click anywhere other than a tab name in this gray area, it's just a single click to open, expand and collapse your panel groups I find that to be easier than doing the double-click. It's kind of a nice enhancement there.
So we can collapse Color down at the bottom, we can collapse Adjustments down at the bottom and now we have a Layers panel that's as large as it can be. I tend to work with a lot of layers, so I want to maximize the amount of vertical real estate that I have there. Let's go back to the collapsed view. You see here that I get an iconic representation of the panels with a panel name to the right of it. Over time, you may not need the panel name. You can memorize the position, you get muscle memory and what not. So if you want, you can actually recapture some of that screen to real state by dragging the divider lines or just mouse over the edge of that panel dock, drag it to the right and eventually if you go far enough, those panel names get clipped.
You are now in this iconic drawer mode, so if I click on the icon, a panel drops out in a drawer mode, so only one panel group at a time. You still can resize these panels, so even if you are in an iconic mode, you want your Layers panel to be as tall as possible. Just go down to the bottom edge and drag that down and now, when I open and close at that Layers panels, much bigger in that iconic view as well. If I go back and click the gray area at the top again, I'm just going to collapse and expand that back to expanded to the full dock. Again, as a reminder, hit your Tab key and that takes you back to the mode where you can Auto-hide your hidden panels or Auto- reveal your hidden panels just by mousing over that right edge, mouse back out and then go away and come back. Hit your Tab key and then come back fully expanded again.
So just different ways to collapse and manage your panels, rearrange them, create them, create new groups, rearrange the groups, collapse them down to iconic mode and put them into a mode and whatnot. You'll find that you are going to get your workspace set up a particular way, have the panels just where you want and then you're pretty going to leave them alone from then on. You'll just hit Tab to hide them, hit Tab to bring them back or move your mouse to the edge of screen and pop them back open whenever you need them.
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