The key to quick and painless retouching is creating a workflow that works for you. Photoshop has a highly customizable workspace that you can set up in a way that best suits your needs. Here are some tips on how to declutter your Photoshop workspace for a seamless and efficient workflow.
Photoshop workspace preferences
A workflow that’s effective for one photographer may not be as helpful for another.
Your Photoshop workflow has to be built around your preferences and your most-used tools and windows. For example, the tools that I use most for my food photography may not be as useful for wedding photography or street photography.
For this reason, you may want to have multiple workspaces set up for different applications, especially if you shoot in more than one genre.
You may want to have a workspace for black and white photography only, and another you use for color retouching. It’s up to you if you want to have multiple workspaces and how you organize them.
The important thing is that you arrange your workspace in a way that you’re best prepared for the type of retouching that you want to do. This will keep distractions to a minimum and make the process of retouching go faster.
Photoshop comes with some pre-configured workspaces, depending on what you use the program for. You’ll find these, as well as your various options to set your preferences, under the Window tab at the top of the Photoshop workspace. The panels that show up in your workspace are denoted with a checkmark. Click them on or off accordingly.
Choose the default Photography workspace as a base and customize it from there.
When setting up your workspace, I recommend always showing your Layers and Histogram panels to keep you on track while retouching. I also like to sometimes have my History and Actions visible.
Rename your workspace in a way that will help you quickly differentiate it from other workspaces, if you have them. I personally only use one workspace because I mostly shoot in one genre – food photography.
Creating a new workspace
To create a new photoshop workspace:
go to > Window
navigate to > Workspace
choose > New Workspace
Give your workspace a name
Toolbar and windows
The toolbar and various menus in the Photoshop workspace can be easily dragged to where you want them. In the default workspace, you can find the toolbar on the left-hand side. However, you can drag it to the right-hand side of your workspace, so you have all your tools and menus on one side. This can make the workspace cleaner and more effective because everything you need to access will be consolidated in one area, and your eyes won’t be bouncing around, looking for things.
Make sure that your most important windows are visible, and that you hide or collapse any that are unused, or rarely used.
Observe which windows and tools you use the most and make sure that they are prominent and easy to navigate to.
You can make your menus larger or smaller in relation to the rest of your workspace, depending on your preference. If you have a large screen, you might feel comfortable having several wide menus.
In my Photoshop workspace, I want to see my Histogram and Navigator panels at the top, where I’m used to seeing them in my RAW editor.
Below that, I have my Adjustments and Actions, which I access regularly.
I also always have my Layers panel open so I can see them all and know exactly which one I’m working on.
You can minimize a given window and have it noted by an icon. For example, I have minimized my History panel to a small icon because I want it accessible in case I need to step back in my retouching process, but it’s not a panel that I constantly use, therefore I don’t need to expand it.
When you move your panels around, note that they will be saved as such in the organization of the current workspace. If you go to another workspace and then come back, all your panels will be found in their most recent arrangement.
Any of the individual panels can be moved onto the screen. They can be moved outside the Photoshop window, or even onto other monitors, if you use a double or multiple monitor set-up.
Some photographers like to work this way, while others find floating panels annoying and intrusive.
You can dock panels with other panels to create panel groups.
To do this, you hover the pointer of the mouse over the boundary of another panel. A blue outline will show you where the panel will be docked.
You can also dock several panels into columns, as I did with my History panel. Again, you probably want to do this with the panels that you need but use less often.
An organized workspace is one of the most important factors in working effectively in Photoshop. Arrange your tools and panels in a way that makes sense for you.
This might mean:
- creating multiple workspaces with various preferences for different applications
- consolidating your toolbar and panels on one side of the screen
- hiding unused menus and collapsing those that are used less often
- docking floating panels and tools together or using floating panels on another monitor
- minimizing the number of panels in your workspace to avoid distractions
At the end of the day, your retouching process has to make sense for you. Hopefully these tips will help you declutter your Photoshop workspace for a faster and efficient retouching workflow.
If you have any other tips for decluttering your Photoshop workspace, let us know in the comments.