The Adobe CS6 Interface

Last updated: January 21, 2014

The Adobe interface is relatively consistent throughout Adobe’s three (3) main design programs: Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.  The intention of this page is to establish some best-practices while navigating through all three programs. Each section highlights a integral part of the interface then notes the differences between the programs.

Tools and the tool bar, Options Bar, System Bar, Panel Dock

Tools and the Tool Bar

Each Adobe program utilizes a set of tools for directly manipulating aspects of the project you are working on. These tools allow you to do everything from create shapes to fix blemishes on an image. Each program has a different set of tools. Every tool has a specific purpose and may vary slightly in operation and application from program to program. The tools are all selected via the tool bar on the left side of the program space. Some tools have a small triangle in the bottom right corner. When tools with this symbol are clicked and held, more tools that relate to the top tool are displayed and can be selected.

The Options Bar

The options bar works in tandem with the tool bar. As you select different tools via the tool bar, the options bar will display different aspects of that tool that you can manipulate (ie. modes, types, size, weight, color, shape, etc.). As each tool has a different application, the options presented will change dramatically.

The Panel Dock

The panel dock allows for a visual 

The System Bar

While the tool bar allows you directly manipulate objects, The primary purpose of the system bar is to allow comprehensive access to change a project either globally or specific parts by a mathematical amount. The tool bar generally requires you to change the shape visually by clicking and dragging. In contrast, The system bar will give options through dialog boxes that allow for inputting values. This is especially helpful for transform tools such as rotate and shift which generally require a specific angle or distance. The systems bar is also the location for saving and exporting documents under the “File” option.

Opening and Creating Work Files

Once you have a handle on navigating the interface, it is time to learn how to create new projects and open existing ones. The following video gives a great demonstration of how to do both of these tasks.

– Start: 259s, End: 356s –

To create a new document:

  • Locate the systems bar
  • Select “File” < “New..”
  • Name your document
  • Select a Preset or input custom dimensions and color types

Tip: If the units are not correct, input your desired dimensions followed by their abbreviation (ie. 15 cm) and the dialog window will make the conversion for you.

To open a document:

  • Locate the systems bar
  • Select “File” < “Open” (Command +O on Macs, Ctrl + O on PCs)
  • Find the file you are trying to open
  • Select “Open”

Tip: If you want to open files more rapidly on a Mac, you can always drag the file you are attempting to open on top of the corresponding icon on the dock.