How to Arrange Tabs in the Photoshop Workspace

  • Thread starter KodyWallice
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May 7, 2021
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I’ll tell you right now that exploring what Photoshop has to offer is downright fun. What’s almost as good of a time as actually editing photos and graphics in this application, is learning how to manage and set up its interface. So with that in mind, I’m going to continue my series of that learning and discuss another portion of how we can work effectively and efficiently in Photoshop.

In today’s post, we’re going to look into the multiple methods of arranging the tabs that contain your photos and files inside of your Photoshop workspace. Once you get the hang of things, I think you’ll find tabs very helpful. I certainly do.

What Is a Tab?​

I think it might be helpful for me to explain what I mean by “tabs” in this post. It sort of goes like this – when you open an file in Photoshop, it appears in your workspace. If you look above the image, you should see a small area that holds the name and extension of the file you opened. Here, take a look at the screenshot below.


What I’ve circled in red is considered a tab. And if you’ll notice in the screenshot above, I’ve got quite a few files open, resulting in quite a few tabs. For the purposes of this post, I’ll be working with six different image files. There will be eight tabs in all, but two of those are my working screenshots to upload here.

How To Switch Between Files​

If you’d like to jump between files (or tabs), all you need to do is simply click a tab other than the one you’re currently working in. I know this probably doesn’t need explaining, but extra information doesn’t hurt.

If you look at the screenshot below, you’ll see a different photo than what was included in the previous screenshot. You’ll also see that a different tab is highlighted. This new highlighted tab belongs to the photo that’s being displayed.


Reordering Tabs​

Sometimes it’s helpful to arrange your tabs in such a way that helps speed up your workflow. I know that when I work with a series of files that are numbered, I like to see my tabs in order from lowest to highest. You might find another use for having your tabs in a particular order. If you’d like to reorder your tabs in any which way, simply place your mouse pointer over the tab you’d like to move, click the tab and then drag it to its new position. As you are dragging, you should see a space open up that displays where your tab was and eventually, you’ll see another tab snap in its place.


Floating Tabs​

There may come a time when you’d like to float a tab, or perhaps, float many tabs. I know that I’ve done this when I’ve had to compare images. If you’d like to float a tab, just head back up to it with your mouse pointer, click and drag it out of the “tab bar” down into your working area. You should see the image “pop” out and float above all your other files.


Once you float a few of your tabs, you can resize them or move them as you wish. In the example below, I floated three tabs and reduced their viewing size.


Combining Floated Tabs​

Here’s another quick tip on how to manage your floated tabs. Let’s say you would like to save some room in your workspace and would like to merge, or combine, similar images into one floated window. So, for this example, you would float one tab and then float another one. But this time, instead of floating the second one as a separate window to be floated, you drag it into the first tab you floated, creating a floated window that includes two tabs. Take a look below.


You’ll know you’re in the right place when the outline of the window you’re trying to float your tab into turns blue like above. And when you’re finished and you let go of your mouse, you should see a floated window with two tabs like below.


Minimizing & Finding Tabs​

Sometimes, if you float too many tabs, things get a bit confusing. As I was creating my screenshot for the last section of this post, I minimized the floated window so it wasn’t in my way anymore. By doing this, I made the window disappear.


The problem is, once I minimized it, I didn’t see it anymore – anywhere. To find it, I had to do a bit of exploring.

There are a few ways of locating and expanding your floated window to its previous glory. The first method is to head up to the “Window” menu and scroll all the way to the bottom. Once you’re there, all you need to do is look for the name of the file inside the window you’d like to expand, among the list of your open files. In my case, it’s the “forest” photograph. Just click that selection and you should see your window again.


You can follow the instructions I just gave you above, or you can head down to the bottom bar of your computer and roll over your Photoshop shortcut (if you have one). If you do this, you should see two small windows appear. One for Photoshop itself and the other for any minimized windows. Go ahead and click the minimized window and you should see the floated window appear in your workspace again.


Re-including Floated Windows In the Tab Bar​

I’m not a fan of floated windows, so I would like to re-include my floated window, or tabs, back inside of my original tab bar. To do this, I simply click the top bar of my floated window and drag it to the top tab bar. As I do this, I should see the entire file area of my workspace outlined in blue and my floated window should become somewhat transparent.


Once I let go of my mouse button, I see that my floated window with its nested tabs are now back inside the tab bar.

Another method to re-include any floating windows into the primary tab bar is to go to the “Window > Arrange” menu and click “Consolidate All to Tabs.” This will quickly bring you back to an all tabbed workspace.


Arranging Tabs​

There are a number of ways you might want to arrange your files. Instead of floating each window and then trying to shrink and expand each one so they’re set the way you’d like, you can head back up to the “Window” menu and hover over the “Arrange” selection. From there, you’ll see all sorts of neat selections that will position your files in a variety of ways (refer to previous screenshot). I suggest you play around with these for a bit to see which ones you like the best. I chose to go with the “Tile All Horizontally” to see what would happen. Here’s a screenshot of that.


To revert back to all tabs, go to the same menu and choose “Consolidate All to Tabs.”

Closing Tabs & Files​

When it comes time to close one file (or tab), you can simply click the small “X” that’s included right inside the tab, next to the file name.


Or, you can head up to the “File” menu and click “Close” to close the active file or click “Close All” to close all files.


If you’ve enjoyed today’s post and found it helpful, please share it with a friend. Thanks!


May 7, 2021
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Organizing & Matching Location in the Adobe Photoshop Workspace​

Just a few moments ago, I was teaching someone how to manage the workspace in Adobe Photoshop. A number of times, I said, “There are about a millions ways to do the same things in this program.” It’s true. You can follow a number of different paths in Photoshop and arrive at the same destination. It’s sort of confusing at first, but after a while, you get used to it.

Since this is top of mind, I figured I’d write a post where I’ll share a few really cool tips regarding the workspace. I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen these before. They’re not going to be anything all too dramatic, but they can be helpful if you’re doing comparative editing on multiple photos. Photoshop makes it so easy to show images side by side and to move them around and manage them efficiently.

In today’s post, I think I’ll open three of the same exact photographs into Adobe Photoshop. There could be any number of reasons I’d do something like this, from adding different adjustment layers to them to selecting and editing various objects in them to coloring them in some way. Really anything. The reason doesn’t matter today because that’s not the point of this post. The point of the post is to share how you can easily manage and arrange the photos once they’re launched into the application. After all, if you can’t view the images easily and efficiently, it’ll take all day to work on them and to finish the task at hand.

The Demo Photo​

I could have used any photo on earth for this post because it’s simply a workspace demonstration. I thought I’d go with this one though because there’s a defined object in the image and that object will help later on when I show you something below.


Showing Tabs Side-by-Side​

Okay, I’ve gone ahead and opened this same exact image three times in Adobe Photoshop. I now have three tabs, but only one picture is showing. Since my goal is to make changes to each of these three images, I’d surely like it if I could see all three simultaneously for the sake of comparison.

Before I go any further though, let me show you what I’m talking about. Take a look at this screenshot below. You can see that I’ve got multiple tabs with the contents of one tab visible. This is very normal and it’s what pretty much everyone sees.


Okay, since I’d like to arrange these tabs in such a way as to view all three at the same time, I’ll head up to the Window > Arrange > 3-Up Vertical menu item and click.


When I do that, I’ll see the different tabs line up vertically, just as the menu item suggests. Check it out.


If you take a look around the menu item I used, you’ll see that you can arrange tabs all sorts of different ways, depending on how you’d like to view them. I just used the 3-Up option because it fit my needs at the moment. You’ll need to think of the possibilities when you use this type of feature.

Navigating the Images with the Hand Tool​

One of the most common tasks you’ll find yourself engaged in when working on multiple images with a view like this is trying to navigate those images. What I mean by this is, trying to move the images around in an attempt to find something specific. As you may have noticed, the view of each photo is now constrained as opposed to having a clear view of each one when viewed individually. The best way I know how to scroll the images is to use the Hand Tool.


When using the Hand Tool, you’ll have the ability to click and drag the image around to see different parts of it.

The problem is, it’s not very helpful when you use the Hand Tool to click and drag just one image. Do you really have to do this for all three, one at a time? That would be quite cumbersome. The answer is no. If you use the Hand Tool and then hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, and click and drag just one image, all three images will move as well, as if they’re locked together. Since I can’t create a screenshot for this, you’ll have to experiment with it. Give it a try, it’s pretty cool.

Matching Location & More​

Let’s say I was doing some very detailed work to the bottle caps in the demo photo. I already used the Hand Tool to navigate the first photo so the bottle caps are in clear view, but I forgot to hold the Shift key so the other caps followed along. In this situation, I have the caps in one photo visible, but the caps in the other photos are still hidden. The question is, can I somehow automatically navigate the other images so they show the same exact location of the first image? Why yes I can, but you already knew that.

To have other tabs match the locations of the images they contain with a leading tab, I’ll head up to the Window > Arrange > Match Location menu item and click. When I do this, the bottle caps in the remaining two images will snap to the same exact viewable location as the first one.


This is certainly a helpful feature to have at our fingertips, I’d say. Also, if you look around in this menu item’s section, you’ll see other options, such as Match Zoom, Match Rotation and Match All. With these tools, you can pretty much match anything in any image you’re working one, which is extremely helpful.


I know these were some random tips about arranging, navigating and matching the locations of files in Adobe Photoshop, but I hope I clearly explained how to take advantage of them and that they help in some way. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!