Take Control of the Photoshop Application Frame

When working in Photoshop CS4 or CS5, you’ll see that the entire user interface is contained within an Application Frame. This frame will block out your desktop and generally makes it easier to keep the many panels and interface elements neatly organized. Across the top of the frame is the Application bar, which attempts to consolidate several commands into one strip. Photoshop has been reorganized to emphasize task-based workflows, which attempt to guide you to the right tools.


  1. View Extras – Lets you see things like Guides, Grids, and Rulers.
  2. Zoom Level– Lets change magnification levels of your image.
  3. Layout Control – Allows you to display different number of open documents in a tiled view or as tabs.
  4. Screen Mode Switcher – Lets you access Photoshop’s three screen modes that affect how the user interface is presented on your monitor.
  5. Workspace switcher – Allows you to switch between different arrangements of windows designed for specific tasks like color correction, typography, video, and web. For the rest of this chapter we’ll be using the Essentials workspace.

Tip: Frame & Panels Begone!

On a Mac you can disable the Application Frame if you decide you don’t like it. Simply choose Window > Application Frame to toggle it on or off. To turn all panels off, simply press the Tab key. If you want to disable all panels except the Tools panel and Options panel, press Shift+Tab.