Workspace overview

You create and manipulate your documents and files using various elements, such as panels, bars, and windows. Any arrangement of these elements is called a workspace. The workspaces of the different applications in Creative Cloud look similar so that you can move between the applications easily. You can also adapt each application to the way you work by selecting from several preset workspaces or by creating one of your own.

Although the default workspace layout varies in different products, you manipulate the elements much the same way in all of them.

  • The Application bar across the top contains a workspace switcher, menus (Windows only), and other application controls. On the Mac for certain products, you can show or hide it using the Window menu.

  • The Tools panel contains tools for creating and editing images, artwork, page elements, and so on. Related tools are grouped.

  • The Control panel displays options for the currently selected tool. In Illustrator, the Control panel displays options for the currently selected object. (In Adobe Photoshop® this is known as the Options bar. In Adobe Flash®, Adobe Dreamweaver®, and Adobe Fireworks® this is known as the Property Inspector and includes properties of the currently selected element.)

  • The Document window displays the file you’re working on. Document windows can be tabbed and, in certain cases, grouped and docked.

  • Panels help you monitor and modify your work. Examples include the Timeline in Flash, the Brush panel in Illustrator, the Layers panel in Adobe Photoshop®, and the CSS Styles panel in Dreamweaver. Panels can be grouped, stacked, or docked.

  • The Application frame groups all the workspace elements in a single, integrated window that lets you treat the application as a single unit. When you move or resize the Application frame or any of its elements, all the elements within it respond to each other so none overlap. Panels don’t disappear when you switch applications or when you accidentally click out of the application. If you work with two or more applications, you can position each application side by side on the screen or on multiple monitors.

    If you are using a Mac and prefer the traditional, free-form user interface, you can turn off the Application frame. In Adobe Illustrator®, for example, select Window > Application Frame to toggle it on or off. (In Flash, the Application frame is on permanently for Mac, and Dreamweaver for Mac does not use an Application frame.)


Default Illustrator workspace
Default Illustrator workspace

A. Tabbed Document windows B. Application bar C. Workspace switcher D. Panel title bar E. Control panel F. Tools panel G. Collapse To Icons button H. Four panel groups in vertical dock 

Start and Recent Files workspaces

Start workspace
Start workspace

Start workspace

The Start workspace is displayed when:

  • Illustrator is launched
  • No documents are open

Use the Start workspace to:

  • Get started quickly
    • Click Recent Files to view the files that you have recently modified. You can set how many files must be displayed from the Preferences dialog (Illustrator > Ctrl/Cmd + K > File Handling & Clipboard > Files area > Number of Recent Files to Display text box).
    • Click Libraries to view a list of Libraries associated (own and shared) with your Creative Cloud account. The assets in your Libraries are displayed in the integrated Libraries panel.
    • Click Presets to view the available starter templates for new Illustrator documents. Click a template to start a new document with a predefined canvas size.
    • Click Mobile Creations to view the projects that you have created using one of the following mobile applications with your Creative Cloud account:
      • Adobe Illustrator Draw
      • Adobe Photoshop Sketch
      • Adobe Comp CC
  • View assets conveniently
    • List view . view a list of asset names.
    • Thumbnail view . View thumbnails of assets.
  • Interact with your Libraries
    • Use the integrated Libraries panel to quickly view, work with, or edit assets in your own or shared Creative Cloud Libraries.


This Start workspace is enabled, and is opened by default. To disable the Start workspace feature, in the Preferences dialog, deselect the checkbox Show "Start" Workspace When No Documents Are Open (Illustrator > Ctrl/Cmd + K > General tab).

You can then use the previous keyboard shortcuts to open files (Ctrl/Cmd + O) or start new documents (Ctrl/Cmd + N).

Recent Files workspace
Recent Files workspace

Recent Files workspace

The Recent Files workspace is displayed when you press Ctrl/Cmd + O when one or more documents are already open.


This feature is disabled by default. To enable the Recent Files workspace from the Preferences dialog, select the Show "Recent Files" Workspace When Opening A File checkbox (Illustrator > Ctrl/Cmd + K > General tab). The previous keyboard shortcuts Ctrl/Cmd + O and Ctrl/Cmd + N continue to be available for use.

Use the Recent Files workspace to review a list- or thumbnail-view of the files you have been working on recently. To set the number of files you want to view, modify the the value of Number of Recent Files to Display text box (Illustrator > Ctrl/Cmd + K > File Handling & Clipboard > Files area).

Hide or show all panels

  • (Illustrator, Adobe InCopy®, Adobe InDesign®, Photoshop, Fireworks)To hide or show all panels, including the Tools panel and Control panel, press Tab.

  • (Illustrator, InCopy, InDesign, Photoshop) To hide or show all panels except the Tools panel and Control panel, press Shift+Tab.

    Tip: You can temporarily display hidden panels if Auto-Show Hidden Panels is selected in Interface preferences. It’s always on in Illustrator. Move the pointer to the edge of the application window (Windows®) or to the edge of the monitor (Mac OS®) and hover over the strip that appears.

  • (Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks) To hide or show all panels, press F4.

Display panel options

  • Click the panel menu icon in the upper-right corner of the panel.

    Tip: You can open a panel menu even when the panel is minimized.

    Tip: In Photoshop, you can change the font size of the text in panels and tool tips. In the Interface preferences, choose a size from the UI Font Size menu.

(Illustrator) Adjust panel brightness

  • In User Interface preferences, move the Brightness slider. This control affects all panels, including the Control panel.

Reconfigure the Tools panel

You can display the tools in the Tools panel in a single column, or side by side in two columns. (This feature is not available in the Tools panel in Fireworks and Flash.)


In InDesign and InCopy, you also can switch from single-column to double-column (or single-row) display by setting an option in Interface preferences.

  • Click the double arrow at the top of the Tools panel.

Search For Help box

Use the Search For Help box on the right side of the Application bar to search for Help topics and online content. If you have an active Internet connection, you can access all content on the Community Help website. If you search for Help without an active Internet connection, search results are limited to Help content that is included with Illustrator.

  1. In the search box, type the name of the item on which you want to search (such as a feature, application, or tool).

  2. Press Enter.

All topics available from the Community Help center appear in a separate browser window.

About screen modes

You can change the visibility of the illustration window and menu bar using the mode options at the bottom of the Tools panel. To access panels when in Full Screen Mode, position the cursor at the left or right edge of the screen and the panels will pop up. If you’ve moved them from their default locations, you can access them from the Window menu.

You can choose one of the following modes:

  • Normal Screen Mode  displays artwork in a standard window, with a menu bar at the top and scroll bars on the sides.

  • Full Screen Mode With Menu Bar  displays artwork in a full-screen window, with a menu bar at the top and scroll bars.

  • Full Screen Mode  displays artwork in a full-screen window, with no title bar or menu bar.

Using the status bar

The status bar appears at the lower-left edge of the illustration window. It displays any of the following:

  • current zoom level

  • current tool in use

  • current artboard in use

  • navigation controls for multiple artboards

  • date and time

  • number of undos and redos available

  • document color profile

  • status of a managed file

Click the status bar to do any of the following:

  • Change the type of information displayed in the status bar by selecting an option from the Show submenu.

  • Show the current file in Adobe Bridge by choosing Reveal In Bridge.

Enter values in panels and dialog boxes

You enter values using the same methods in all panels and dialog boxes. You can also perform simple math in any box that accepts numeric values. For example, if you want to move a selected object 3 units to the right using the current measurement units, you don’t have to work out the new horizontal position—simply type +3 after the current value in the Transform panel.

Enter a value in a panel or dialog box

  • Do any of the following:
    • Type a value in the box, and press Enter or Return.

    • Drag the slider.

    • Drag the dial.

    • Click the arrow buttons in the panel to increase or decrease the value.

    • Click in the box and then use the Up Arrow key and Down Arrow key on the keyboard to increase or decrease the value. Hold down Shift and click an arrow key to magnify the increase rate or decrease rate.

    • Select a value from the menu associated with the box.

    Ways to enter values
    Ways to enter values

Calculate values in a panel or dialog box

  1. In a text box that accepts numerical values, do one of the following:
    • To replace the entire current value with a mathematical expression, select the entire current value.

    • To use the current value as part of a mathematical expression, click before or after the current value.

  2. Type a simple mathematical expression using a single mathematical operator, such as + (plus), - (minus), x (multiplication), / (division), or % (percent).

    For example, 0p0 + 3 or 5mm + 4. Similarly, 3cm * 50% equals 3 centimeters multiplied by 50%, or 1.50 cm, and 50pt + 25% equals 50 points plus 25% of 50 points, or 62.5 points.

  3. Press Enter or Return to apply the calculation.

Control panel overview

The Control panel offers quick access to options related to the objects you select. By default, the Control panel is docked at the top of the workspace.

Options displayed in the Control panel vary depending on the type of object or tool you select. For example, when you select a text object, the Control panel displays text-formatting options in addition to options for changing the color, placement, and dimensions of the object. When a selection tool is active, you can access Document Setup and Preferences from the Control panel.

Control panel
Control panel

A. Hidden options B. Link to another panel C. Panel menu 

When text in the Control panel is blue and underlined, you can click the text to display a related panel or dialog box. For example, click the word Stroke to display the Stroke panel.

Change the kinds of controls that appear in the Control panel

  • Select or deselect options in the Control panel menu.

Open and close a panel or dialog box from the Control panel

  1. Click a blue underlined word to open its associated panel or dialog box.
  2. Click anywhere outside of the panel or dialog box to close it.

Dock the Control panel at the bottom of the workspace

  • Choose Dock To Bottom from the Control panel menu.

Convert the Control panel to a floating panel

  • Drag the gripper bar (located on the left edge of the panel) away from its current position.

    To redock the Control panel, drag the gripper bar to the top or bottom of the application window (Windows) or screen (Mac OS).

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