Workspace Remodel: Customising Photoshop Elements

Do you like floating windows, neat tabs, or a combination of both? Photoshop Elements 11 and later has a variety of options for you to customize the look and arrangement of your workspace.

As a scrapper, we want easy access to our supplies, layers, actions and styles. We want our windows where we like them.

Come with me and I’ll show you how to remodel PSE to get it looking just how you like it!

Quick, Guided and Expert Modes

Digital scrapbookers will generally head straight for Expert Mode in Photoshop Elements.

You can’t customize the Quick and Guided modes, but they are still great tools in your arsenal! If you haven’t kept up with all the creative and useful features in Quick and Guided modes, I have more details about how these modes work in Fast Photo Fixes over at Big Picture Classes.

Customizing Expert Mode

The first thing we can customize is our panels. The panels appear on the right side of the screen and were previously called palettes.

Panels help you manage, monitor, and modify images. Some panels have menus that provide additional commands and options. You can organize panels in the basic and custom workspaces in Expert mode. You can store panels in the Panel Bin (highlighted in the image to your right) to keep them out of your way, but easily accessible.

In the Expert mode, panels on your right can be displayed in two ways: Basic Workspace, and Custom Workspace.

Basic Workspace

In this view, buttons for the most frequently used panels are placed in the task bar. The buttons in this workspace are Layers, Effects, Graphics, and Favorites. For example, clicking the Layers button displays all the layers-related options. To view all the other available tabs, or close open tabs, click More.

Custom Workspace

The look of the Panel Bin in the custom workspace is similar to Photoshop Creative Cloud (PSCC) and older versions of Photoshop Elements.

To use the tabbed layout in the Panel Bin, click the arrow next to More, and select Custom Workspace.

You can had the panels float over your workspace by dragging the tab out and letting go of the mouse.

You can group panels together or dock one panel at the bottom of another panel. To dock a panel, drag title bar of the tab and drop it in the tabbed layout.

To turn a panel back into a tab drag it
and drop it on the title of another tab.

You can also do this with the History, Actions and other panels not shown by default. Find them in the Windows menu.

Heads Up!

You can’t save your expert mode layout like you can in PSCC, so if you switch back to Basic workspace you will lose all your customizations.

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Photoshop users often debate over floating vs docked windows for open files.

I prefer a neat and tidy docked interface, and that’s the default in Photoshop Elements on Windows.

If you like the floating windows, you can simply enable that feature by heading to Edit > Preferences > General… and click the check mark to Allow Floating Documents in Expert Mode.

Then all your documents will open in floating windows and you can then drag them around the screen.

Find your Favorites

In my Finishing Touches in a Flash article, I explain how you can get easy access to your favorite styles and scripts. Check it out for more details!

Tool Options vs the Photo Bin

Do your Tool Options constantly get in the way of your photo bin? If it annoys you, you can turn it off. YAY!

Click on the menu in the upper right corner of Tool options and deselect Auto Show Tool Options. That will stop it from appearing up every time you select a new tool.

If you want to see the Tool Options, just press the Tool Options button or Ctrl+T (Cmd+T on a Mac).

Make it Work for You

Now you know what you can do, why not try making a few customizations today.

  1. Clean up your workspace to remove panels you don’t need.
  2. Try out floating windows and see how you like them.
  3. Turn off Auto Show Tool Options, and give it a try.
  4. Select your most used styles and scripts from the Effects panel and add them to your favorites.
  5. Move your tabs around in the Panel Bin to match your scrappy workflow. (I have layers, then effects, then favorites.)

Now, it may take a few scrapping sessions to adjust, but I’m sure you’ll come to love your new personalized workspace.

What customizations do you like to make to your workspace?