Photoshop stores many of the settings or options for tools and image manipulation in rectangular-shaped panels called palettes. Essentially even the Toolbox is a palette. In this lecture you'll learn about the display options for palettes and we'll give you an overview of the functions of each palette.

palette group Many of the palettes are grouped together in palette sets because their functions are related. When this is the case, the titles of the individual palettes will appear as tabs under the title bar, as shown in this example. The Colour palette is currently active. The tabs of the Swatches and Styles palettes are a darker grey. To bring a palette to the front of a group so you can access its options, just click on its tab.

Palette Display

There are a number of options for displaying palettes in the workspace. They can be opened or closed, moved, grouped, collapsed or expanded, resized, and docked in the Palette Well for convenience.

Show or Hide Palettes

All the palettes are listed in the Window menu. In the menu they are organized by the default palette groups with each group being separated by a horizontal dividing line. The names of palettes currently open will be preceded by Hide. Hidden, or closed, palettes will be preceded by Show. These commands perform a toggle function to show/hide the palettes. You can also click on each palette's Close box to close it.

To toggle between hiding and showing all open palettes, the Toolbox and Tool Options Bar at once, press the Tab key.

Moving and Grouping Palettes

Palettes are said to be floating because, like the Toolbox, you can click and drag them by the title bar to any location on the screen. Furthermore, palettes can be grouped together or pulled apart by clicking on the tabs and dragging them out of or into any palette set you desire.

Collapsing and Expanding Palettes

palette collapsed to its title bar and tabs Palettes can be collapsed (minimized) so that just the title bar and tabs are showing. There are two ways to do this and the same actions will expand (maximize) the palettes:

Resizing a Palette

To resize a palette, click and drag on any corner (Windows) or on the resize box on the lower right corner (Mac). Not all of the palettes can be resized; e.g., Toolbox.

Using the Palette Well

The Palette Well is only available if your screen resolution is set higher than 800 x 600. It is located on the far right side of the Tool Options bar. It is used to help you access your frequently used palettes more conveniently and minimize clutter in the workspace.

empty Palette Well

To add a palette to the Palette Well, click and drag it by its tab and drop it over the well. A palette placed here will be docked and hidden until you click on its tab. To hide the palette again, click on its tab or click away from the palette. More than one palette can be stored here.

adding a palette to the Palette Well

To remove a palette from the Palette Well, drag its tab out of the well and drop it into the workspace or into a palette group.

Palette Overview

Many of the palette functions are covered in depth in later sections. What follows is a summary of the default palettes.

Tool Options Bar

The Tool Options bar isn't a palette per se but it has been included in this lecture because it provides options as the palettes do. It can't be collapsed and expanded like palettes can. It can be docked or undocked from the menu bar, though, by dragging it by the Gripper bar which is to the left of the tool icon.

Tool Options bar

The options listed in the Tool Options bar change depending on the tool you are using.

The Navigator Palette

Use the Navigator palette to review an entire image at a glance or quickly zoom in or out of a portion of the image.

Navigator palette

The Info Palette

As you pass the pointer over an image, the Info palette displays colour and coordinate information. When using any of the selection tools, the Info palette displays the width and height of the selection. The Info palette will also display the Eyedropper tool information.

Info palette

The Colour Palette

The Colour palette is used to create colours. The swatch at the top left (black) is the current foreground colour and the swatch beneath it (white) is the current background colour (just like in the Toolbox).

Colour palette

The Swatches Palette

The Swatches palette contains a number of pre-selected colours to choose from. You can create your own swatches as well as load other colour sets. Photoshop includes a colour set of Web-safe swatches, which is a collection of colours that are supported across browsers.

Swatches palette

The Styles Palette

The Styles palette maintains a library of effects or textures that can be applied to a layer or shape simply by clicking on a style.

Styles palette

The History Palette

The History palette keeps a record of all the changes you make to your image as you're editing. If you're not satisfied with a change or a series of changes, you can use the History palette to restore your image as it was before the changes. You can always undo your last action with Ctrl-Z (Cmd-Z), as with other programs, but the History palette gives you far more versatility and control.

History palette

The Actions Palette

The Actions palette is used to automate repetitive tasks. Automated tasks are called Actions.

Actions palette

The Layers Palette

The Layers palette is used to create, manipulate and modify layers. Layers can be anything that Photoshop can create or import, separated from other elements (or layers) in an image.

Layers palette

The Channels Palette

The built-in colour channels are displayed in the Channels palette. It is also used to save and modify selections made in a Photoshop document as well as to define areas of transparency in an image that will be opened in other applications, such as for digital video or 3D.

Channels palette

The Paths Palette

The Paths palette is used to create, manipulate and modify paths, which are covered in detail in later sections.

Paths palette

Palettes Summary

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