Photoshop Screen Views – Navigation

Happy 2020. When you open Photoshop the Standard Screen Mode view includes the equivalent to the “consolidate all to tabs” arrangement. If you have multiple images open you can see them as tabs just below the options bar. The icon at the very bottom of the tool bar as well as the “F” key on the keyboard allow you to cycle through three different screen modes. You can also choose screen modes from the View menu. The screen can be less than the full size of the monitor in this mode.


The second screen mode is Full Screen with Menu Bar, and is my favorite working space. Any open images in tabs other than the working image are hidden and the info at the bottom of the screen also disappears. The screen maximizes on the monitor and if the rulers are off, only the menu bar and the tool options appear above the image. This is a nice clean space to work in without distractions.

The third screen mode totally takes over the monitor so your image appears with only the background surrounding it. This is a good view to use to see how the finished image will appear when printed and matted. It can also be the largest working space if you hide the tools and pallets or have them on a second screen. In the first two views the Tab key hides your tool bar and any pallets you have open. In the third screen, the Tab key toggles between the full screen and the equivalent of the second screen view so you can see tools menus and options. This is another good way to work depending on your available screen real estate.

In all three views you have the option to change the background color to suit your purposes. The default depends on the screen color theme you have chosen in Preferences. In each of the three screens you have the option to right click on the background and change the color to suit your purposes. This means that you can effectively have three different background colors or tones to use to view your image against. You can also change them on the fly.

Viewing your image against different background colors can be useful in many ways. Viewing dark images against a bright screen can be distracting to work, but useful to see how the image might appear against a light mat. In my environment I find that having the third screen in a light neutral tone that appears similar to matted prints nearby is useful for checking my work. My second, or working screen is generally set to a dark gray (25,25,25 in RGB). This allows me to work with a minimum of visual distraction from the screen, but also to see how my blacks appear in the image. I prefer to not use a pure black screen as that leads me to making the dark tones in the image darker than they need to be. That custom screen option allows the background to be changed depending on the image, so a high key image might work better on a lighter background. The actual numbers are not important, only how the background allows you to best visualize the image.

Another useful view option is one I prefer over the use of the Navigation Panel.  Hold the H key down and mouse down on the image. A box appears showing you where you are in the image, just like the Navigator. Move the box to select a different area and let go. The image moves to the selected area.

Another navigation trick that is very useful for retouching are the keystrokes that move you through the image one panel at a time. The panels do not overlap. The Home key moves the image to the top left corner and the End key moves to the bottom right corner. This works if the image is larger than the screen. Retouching is best done at 100% or greater, so this helps you manage the image so you don’t miss anything.  The Page Down and Page Up keys move the image one panel up or down. Adding the [Cmd] key modifies the Page Up and Down keys to move the image to the left and right. The key moves the image in 10 pixel steps rather than a full panel, which is helpful when important details might show up at a panel border. With these keystrokes you can move through an image one panel at a time to check for need retouching, especially useful for spotting in copy and restoration work or simple looking for distractions.

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