Adobe Creative Cloud Design Tools All-in-One For Dummies (2013)

Book I

Getting Started with Adobe Creative Cloud

Chapter 3: Exploring Common Panels

In This Chapter

image Exploring the synchronized workspace

image Manipulating panels in the workspace

image Discovering different kinds of panels

image Getting to know the common panels in Adobe Creative Cloud

The panel is an integral part of working with most of the programs in Adobe Creative Cloud because it contains many of the controls and tools you use when you’re creating or editing a document.

The basic functionality of panels is quite similar across the programs in Adobe Creative Cloud, and the purpose of all panels is the same. Panels offer a great deal of flexibility in how you organize the workspace and the parts of it you use. The task you use each program for and the level of expertise you have may affect which panels you have open at a given moment. This chapter gives you an overview of how to work with the panels you find in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Understanding the Synchronized Workspace

One thing you immediately notice when opening applications in the Creative Cloud is the synchronized workspace. All the applications look similar and have the same set of features to help you organize your workspace.

The tools in InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop appear on a space-saving, single-column toolbar, and panels (described in detail in the next section) are arranged in convenient, self-adjusting docks that you can widen to full size or narrow so that the panels are collapsed to icons.

Here are some pointers to help you navigate the workspace in the Creative Cloud applications:

check To expand tools to two columns, click the right-facing double arrows on the gray bar at the top of the Tools panel, as you see in Figure 3-1.

check To collapse tools to a single column, click the left-facing double arrows on the gray bar at the top of the Tools panel.


Figure 3-1: Click the arrows at the top of the Tools panel to show tools in two columns or one column.

check To expand a docked panel, simply click the icon in the docking area, as shown in Figure 3-2. The panel you selected expands but goes away when you select a different panel.

If you have difficulty identifying the panel, you can choose the panel you want from the Window menu.


Figure 3-2: Click an icon to collapse or expand the panel.

check To expand all docked panels, click the left-facing double-arrow icon at the top of the docking area; put away the panels by clicking the right-facing double-arrow icon in the gray bar above them.

check To undock a panel, simply click the tab (where the panel name is located) and drag it out of the docking area. You can re-dock the panel by dragging the panel back into the docking area.

Using Panels in the Workspace

Panels are small windows in a program that contain controls, such as sliders, menus, buttons, and text fields, that you can use to change the settings or attributes of a selection or an entire document. Panels may also include information about a section or about the document itself. You can use this information or change the settings in a panel to modify the selected object or the document you’re working on.

Whether you’re working on a Windows machine or on a Mac, panels are similar in the way they look and work. Here are the basic instructions for working with panels:

check Open a panel: Open a panel in a Creative Cloud program by using the Window menu: Choose Window and then select the name of a panel. For example, to open the Swatches panel (which is similar in many programs in the Creative Cloud), choose Window⇒Swatches.

check Close a panel: If you need to open or close a panel’s tab or panel altogether, just choose Window⇒Panel’s Tab Name. Sometimes a panel contains a close button (an X button in Windows or the red button on a Mac), which you can click to close the panel.

check Organize the workspace: All Creative Cloud programs now offer options for workspace organization. You can return to the default workspace, which restores panels to their original locations, by choosing Window⇒Workspace⇒Default. You can also open frequently used panels, position them where you want, and save a customized workspace by choosing Window⇒Workspace⇒Save (or New) Workspace. Name the workspace and click OK; the saved workspace is now a menu item that you can open by choosing Window⇒Workspace⇒Your Saved Workspace’s Name.

imageYou can also choose from a wide range of included presets designed for a variety of specialized tasks.

check Access the panel menu: Panels have a panel menu, which opens when you click the arrow in the upper-right corner of the panel, as shown in Figure 3-3. The panel menu contains a bunch of options you can select that relate to the selected tab when you click the panel menu. When you select an option from the panel menu, it may execute an action or open a dialog box. Sometimes a panel menu has just a few options, but particular panels may have a bunch of related functionality and therefore have many options on the panel menu.

check Minimize/maximize: All you need to do to minimize a selected panel is click the Collapse to Icons double-arrow button on the title bar of the panel (if it’s available). If the panel is undocked, you can also double-click the tab itself in the panel. This action either partially or fully minimizes the panel. If it only partially minimizes, double-clicking the tab again fully minimizes it. Double-clicking the active tab when it’s minimized maximizes the panel again.

Panels that partially minimize give you the opportunity to work with panels that have differing amounts of information, which simplifies the workspace while maximizing your screen real estate.


Figure 3-3: Displaying the panel menu.

Most panels contain tabs, which help you organize information and controls in a program into groupings. Panel tabs contain a particular kind of information about a part of the program; a single panel may contain several tabs. The name on the tab usually gives you a hint about the type of function it controls or displays information about, and it’s located at the top of the panel. Inactive tabs are dimmed.

Moving panels

You can move panels all around the workspace, and you can add or remove single tabs from a panel. Each panel snaps to other panels, which makes it easier to arrange panels alongside each other. Panels can overlap each other as well. To snap panels to each other, drag the panel to a new location onscreen, as shown in Figure 3-4; you see the top bar of the panel become shaded, indicating that it’s becoming part of another panel’s group.


Figure 3-4: To move a panel, drag it by its tab.

imageGroup similar tabs by moving them into a single grouped panel. Accessing different functions in your document becomes a lot easier because then you have less searching to do to find related functions for a task. If you want to return to the original workspace, you can choose Reset Workspace from the Window menu in the Workspace category.

imageYou can hide all panels by pressing the Tab key. Press it again to reveal all panels you’ve hidden.

Looking at common panels

Many panels are similar across programs in the Creative Cloud. Although not every panel has exactly the same content in every program it’s in, many have extremely similar content. You use these panels in similar ways, no matter which program or operating system you’re using.

imageAcrobat doesn’t contain numerous panels, like other programs in the Creative Cloud. Instead, Acrobat relies mainly (but not entirely) on a system of menus and toolbars filled with buttons and drop-down lists. In Acrobat, you can open dialog boxes that contain a bunch of settings you can enter for your documents.

The following panels are available in most, but not all, Creative Cloud programs. This list describes what you can do with each one:

check Color: Select or mix colors for use in the document you’re working on. You can use different color modes and several ways of mixing or choosing colors in the Colors panel.

check Info: See information about the document itself or a particular selection you’ve made. The Info panel includes information on the size, positioning, and rotation of selected objects. You can’t enter data into the Info panel: It only displays information without accepting it, so you have to use the Transform panel (described in this list) to make these modifications, if necessary.

check Swatches: Create a swatch library, which can be saved and imported into other documents or other programs. You can store on the Swatches panel any colors and gradients you use repeatedly.

check Tools: You use this important panel, sometimes called the toolbox (and not available in all Creative Cloud programs), to select tools — such as the Pencil, Brush, or Pen — to use in creating objects in a document.

check Layers: Display and select layers, change the layer order, and select items on a particular layer.

check Align: Align selected objects to each other or align them in relation to the document itself so that you can arrange objects precisely.

check Stroke: Select strokes and change their attributes, such as color, width/weight, style, and cap. The program you’re using determines which attributes you can change.

check Transform: Display and change the shear (skew), rotation, position, and size of a selected object in the document. You can enter new values for each transformation.

check Character: Select fonts, font size, character spacing, and other settings related to using type in your documents.