When working with Photoshop tutorials here, elsewhere on the Web, or in books, it pays to memorize the main components of the Photoshop CS4 workspace. After the jump, I describe the components I will refer to the most in my tutorials.
Adobe made drastic changes in the names of these components since version CS3. I will be referencing the CS4 names in my tutorials.
It is possible to completely rearrange many of these components. For example, you can hide the panels (Shift+Tab) and move the Tools Panel over there (clicking-and-dragging the black bar at the top of the Tools Panel).
Click on the image below to view a much larger version.
The Application Bar includes menus* that give you access to Photoshop’s commands and features. They also allow you to make things visible or invisible like panels and guides. Some menu items act on your instruction right away. Other menu items are followed by an ellipsis (…). When you select these menu items, you will get a dialog box which gives you options to modify your request.
Many menu items are accompanied by mysterious text on the right, such as “Alt+Ctrl+C”. This indicates that there is a keyboard shortcut associated with this command. In the example above, you would hold down the Alt and Ctrl keys (on the PC), then click the C key to open the Canvas Size dialog box. It is possible to create your own keyboard shortcuts (Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…).
Application Bar commands are indicated in my tutorials as a series of terms separated by a “Greater Than” (>) character. For example, Images > Adjustments > Hue & Saturation means start with the Images menu, select the Adjustments item, and then select Hue & Saturation from the fly-out menu.
The Application Bar gives you some button shortcuts to common functions, like changing the screen mode and opening Adobe Bridge. It also includes the Workspace Switcher, which allows you to change the configuration of your workspace to accommodate major functions such as Painting and Typography. It simply allows you to save and load different arrangements of panels. To save your own custom workspace, click on this button and select Save Workspace…
The Application Bar used to be called the Menu Bar in earlier versions of Photoshop.
* PCs only; Macs show the menus in a separate bar.
The Tools Panel contains tools that let you interact directly with your Photoshop files. Some of the tools have a small black triangle at the bottom-right. Click and hold down on one of these tools, and you will see the fly-out menu which contains related tools. For example, the fly-out menu for the Gradient Tool also contains the Paint Bucket tool. To select a tool, click on it in the Tools Panel. Many tools have keyboard shortcuts of single letters, indicated by a letter to the far-right on the fly-out tool menu. For example, you can press the G key to access the Gradient tool, and then press it again to access the Paint Bucket tool.
The Tools Panel used to be called the Tool Box in earlier versions of Photoshop.
The Control Panel allows allows you to adjust the settings for the tool that is currently selected in the Tools Panel. For example, if you have the Text tool selected, the Control Panel allows you to change the font type and size, as well as the text color and alignment. If you have the Custom Shape Tool selected, you can change how it behaves, what shape it makes, and what color will result. I will refer to the Control Panel a lot in my tutorials.
The Control Panel used to be called the Options Bar in earlier versions of Photoshop.