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Photoshop: Interface Overview

Version: Adobe Photoshop CC 2021. Be aware that different versions of Photoshop will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guides: Photoshop: Images, Photoshop: Graphic Design

1. Menu bar: includes saving options (under File) and interface options (under Window).
2. Options bar: changes depending on what tool is selected. Contains specific options that allow for greater control over elements like shapes and text.
3. Tool bar: used to interact with and add to the document. Many tools have a small white triangle in the bottom-right-corner, which indicates more tools stacked beneath the top tool. To see the additional tools, click-and-hold on the tool icon; a drop-down menu will appear. 
4. Panels: provides a way to access important tools and settings quickly. Many panels are available, and some have similar functions as the Options Bar. Panels are organized into tabs. Additional panels can be opened from the Menu Bar under Window.
5. Document window: Where the document design takes place. May display a ruler and guidelines, which are not visible in the final print.
6. Canvas: This is where the editing of the document takes place. When an image is opened, the image itself is considered the Canvas. Objects that are placed outside of the Canvas will not appear after export or printing.


Photoshop contains several preset Workspaces, which change the default panels to better serve particular kinds of projects. To change the Workspace, navigate to Windows > Workspaces. For in-depth photo editing, use the Photography Workspace. If at any point a panel is closed or moved, the interface can be reset by navigating to Window > Workspace, and selecting the Reset option (i.e. Reset Photography).

Using Panels

The panels on the right side of the interface will change depending on what Workspace is currently active, but all panels are available in any Workspace. To access a panel not currently visible, navigate to Windows and select the desired panel. Panels with a check-mark to the left are currently accessible from the main interface.

  • To open panel or tab to access its options, click its name. Panels are located on the right of the interface.
  • To expand or collapse a panel, click the double-arrows in the top-right corner of the panel. Left-facing arrows will expand the panel, and right-facing arrows will collapse it.

  • To access additional panel options, click the four stacked lines at the top-right corner of the panel. Important options, such as for deleting or duplicating elements, are located here.

Zooming In and Out

It may be necessary to zoom in or out on certain portions of a photo. On the bottom-left of the Photoshop window there is a zoom percentage that shows the amount the image has been zoomed in-or-out in comparison to the original size.

  • To zoom in, select the Zoom tool from the Toolbar and click the image. Each consecutive click will zoom in further. Alternatively, press Command+(+) (Mac) or CTRL+(+) (Windows).
  • To zoom out, hold the Option key and click the image with the Zoom tool. Alternatively, press Command+(-) (Mac) or CTRL+(-) (Windows).

Tools & Subtools

tools and subtools within photoshop

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Keywordsediting, images, photos, graphics, tools, windows, panels, workspace, subtools   Doc ID86732
OwnerJanelle B.GroupPacific Lutheran Univ
Created2018-10-12 12:50:19Updated2023-08-04 16:28:58
SitesPacific Lutheran University
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