The Photoshop Elements work area is designed to make the tools easy to find and use. Just as with a well-organized workbench, the menus, palettes, and tools are intuitively arranged in a way that makes them easy to find where and when you need them.
The Welcome screen
When you first start Photoshop Elements, the Welcome screen automatically appears on your desktop (Figure 1.1). Think of the Welcome screen as a handy launching pad for creating projects from scratch, opening photos to edit and enhance, or acquiring images from a digital camera or scanner. The Welcome screen includes additional buttons to help you navigate to the Quick Fix dialog box, as well as to a couple of other environments: Photo Creations and the Photoshop Elements Organizer (Figure 1.2). Additionally, the Welcome screen includes a Tutorial button, which along with your Internet connection, gives you access to helpful tips and tutorials straight from the Adobe Photoshop Elements Web site.
Figure 1.1. The Photoshop Elements Welcome screen provides a simple and fast way to open, create, and import files.
Figure 1.2. The Welcome screen features links to the Quick Fix dialog box, as well as the Organizer and Photo Creations environments.
Menus, tools, and palettes
The Photoshop Elements work area may look familiar if you've used other Adobe products. Adobe has worked hard to maintain a consistent interface across its software product linesso if you've ever used Adobe Photoshop, you'll be pleased to know that you don't have to learn your way around a whole new program. Photoshop Elements retains much of the look and feel of its bigger, more powerful cousin.
The menu bar offers drop-down menus for performing common tasks, editing images, and organizing your work area. Each menu is organized by topic. For example, the File menu offers commands for opening, importing, saving, and batch processing your images (Figure 1.4).
Figure 1.4. The menu bar offers myriad drop-down menus, with commands you choose to help perform tasks.
The shortcuts bar (Figure 1.5) displays buttons for performing routine Photoshop Elements commands, such as creating, browsing, and printing files. You can perform these same tasks by navigating through the menus, but the shortcuts bar offers easier access to many of the most common file management tasks.
Figure 1.5. The shortcuts bar gives you easy access to some of Photoshop Elements' most common tasks, such as creating, browsing, and printing files.
The options bar, located right below the shortcuts bar, provides unique settings and options for each tool in the toolbox. For instance, when you're using the Marquee selection tool, you can choose to add to or subtract from the current selection; and when you're using a Brush tool, you can adjust settings like brush size and opacity (Figure 1.6).
Figure 1.6. The options bar changes its display depending on the tool you select in the toolbox.
The toolbox may be the single most important component of the work area. It contains most of the tools you'll use for selecting, moving, cropping, retouching, and enhancing your images. The tools are arranged in the general order you'll be using them, with the most commonly used selection tools near the top, down to the painting, drawing, and color correction tools toward the bottom. The toolbar is docked on the left edge of the work area where the tools are displayed in a single, long column. If you prefer, the toolbar can be pulled a short distance from the left edge, where it will display the tools in Adobe's more common, two-column format (Figure 1.7).
Figure 1.7. The toolbox contains most of the tools you'll use to edit your images.
The Palette Bin, located on the right side of the desktop, contains the How To, Styles and Effects, and Layers palettes (Figure 1.8). Any of the other five palettes can also be stored in the palette bin, though by default they appear in the main work area when you open them from the Window menu.
Figure 1.8. Palettes can be used from within the palette bin (as shown) or moved to your work area.
You can work with palettes from within the palette bin or you can drag them to the main work area. Palettes can also be grouped together or docked to one another, depending on your individual working and organizational style.
The photo bin, located at the bottom of the desktop, serves as a convenient holding area for all of your open images. In addition to providing a visual reference for any open image files, you can even perform a couple of basic editing functions. Click to select any photo thumbnail in the photo bin, and right-click to display a pop-up menu. From the thumbnail menu you can get file information, hide or close the file, and even rotate it in 90-degree increments (Figure 1.9).
Figure 1.9. The photo bin is a holding area where you can store and retrieve all of your open images.