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Using Palettes in Photoshop

In Photoshop, palettes are used to help modify and monitor your documents. An understanding of how to use, organize, and adjust palettes is essential in learning how to use Photoshop.

The Palettes

In order to show you how big of a role palettes play in Photoshop, simply Press Tab in Photoshop to hide all palettes. Palettes include everything from the toolbox, to the option bar, to the layers and colors windows.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to:

  • Arrange palettes
  • Resize, show and hide palettes
  • Close, Open, and Reset palettes
  • Use options inside of palettes

Arranging Palettes

It’s possible to arrange palettes to your personal taste. Doing so can help increase your efficiency by moving your most frequently used palettes to a more accessible part of the screen.

To move a palette to a separate palette group, or into a palette group of its own, drag and drop that palettes tab into another group, or anywhere else in the work area.

To move a palette group, drag the title bar of that palette with your mouse, and release when it is positioned as you see fit.

Drag and Drop Palettes

You can also Dock Palettes to one another by having their upper and lower edges meet one another. When a palette is docked to another, it will snap into place.

Resizing, Showing, and Hiding Palettes

Perhaps you’re working with a palette with a large number of styles, colors, or layers, all of which you like to be accessible at the same time. You can resize many of the palettes by dragging the bottom right corner out to whichever size you prefer.

Resize a Palette

If you want to hide (minimize) a palette that you’re not currently using to save up on space, simply double click that palettes tab. Likewise, you can expand a minimized tablet by double clicking the tab again.

Closing, Opening, and Reseting Palettes

If you have some tablets open that serve no use to you for your current work, it’s possible to close out of them by clicking the “x” in the top right corner of the palette (On a mac, this will be the typical close button).

If you need to open a new palette, or a palette which you have previously closed, go to Window in your menu bar, and select the palette you’d like to reopen.

If you’re ever having trouble getting your palettes back into place, and simply want to revert to the default palette layout, go to Window > Workspace > Reset Palette Locations in your Menu Bar. This will reset everything back to how you started when you first opened Photoshop.

Setting Options in Palettes

Inside palettes, you’ll find all sorts of various settings from color choices, styles, opacity, and other values. We’ll cover many of these options in detail in the future, but for now let’s go over how to operate some of these options.

Drop-down Menus

Drop-down Menus

To operate a drop-down menu, just click the arrow attached to the menu. A list of available inputs will drop down. Click any of these values to select them.



Sliders are operated by grabbing a handle by holding down your mouse button over one, and then dragging to your desired value.

Swatches and Styles

Swatches & Styles

To select a color swatch, or layer style, simply hover over it with your mouse, and click once with your mouse.


  1. Add point Subtract point
    C.Ruiz. (0 Points) October 31, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    For beginners it is an ABC…Im in kindergarden with PS.

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (1 Point) April 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    great tutorial! thanks for sharing

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    [url=]“legitimate work at home jobs” [/url] (1 Point) April 9, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Great article. Thank you.

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    psn card (1 Point) March 9, 2010 at 9:54 am

    PlayStation Network Cards or psn cards are prepaid cards used to buy PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable contents in the online PlayStation network. Our Online PSN Store is easy to buy psn card USA only) directly via Paypal which is very safe.

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  5. Add point Subtract point

    Absolutely great work. Am a new user of PS and this has helped immensely. Thanks again

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    แจกเพลง (2 Points) February 3, 2010 at 12:38 am

    great i never seen before.56

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 1:53 am

    great i never seen before.49

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (2 Points) February 1, 2010 at 3:09 am

    great i never seen before.44

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลง (2 Points) January 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    thanks for sharing. So mush

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (2 Points) January 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  11. Add point Subtract point

    Nice and organze details.. thnks a lot for the information.. I’m really having troubles in using photoshop.. i really find it hard to manipulate..

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  12. Add point Subtract point

    if only I could understand layers now and vectors and smart objects oh, yeah and 3-D stuff!

    Thank you so much.


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  13. Add point Subtract point
    lhoylhoy (1 Point) July 22, 2009 at 11:12 am

    hi, i’m just starting photoshop, i’m an aspiring web designer thanks for tutorial sites like this. It helps us beginners a lot.

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  14. Add point Subtract point

    nice one brother.we just need such demonstrators in this IT field.carry on with us slow learners

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 3, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Thanks for the guide on the reset thing, hahaha that really helps

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  16. Add point Subtract point

    i am not beginner but its a very very useful… who like learn photoshop just see and learn this site…. maybe four or five days expert in photoshop… really its true ! ! !

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    Scorpie (1 Point) August 18, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    My hubby recently gave me Photoshop CS3 and I have been going nuts trying to find beginner tutorials. So glad that I found this site. It’s what I have been looking for.

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    really clear step by step guide, already in 10 minutes Ive learnt quite a bit on how to use photoshop. Nice one!

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    Angelica (1 Point) July 12, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Wauw thank you for the resetting part :P , my art pallet was screwed up! Thank you :D !

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    Priya (2 Points) June 26, 2008 at 8:10 am

    I am greatly interested to work in photoshop and these tutorials works great for beginners like me to get started.

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Karl Hardisty (1 Point) May 6, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    These tutorials will be of great help on my path to learning design. Thank you for simplifying enough for absolute beginners to feel comfortable!

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  22. Add point Subtract point

    These tutorials are great for beginner users, and even refreshing for people that use Photoshop regularly like me :D

    Saying that, I am glad to hear that Tutorial9 is going to have tutorials at all levels.

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  23. Add point Subtract point

    Hey Sheol! It never ceases to amaze me at how much of a following we seem to have from our old site at GreyCobra!

    If you liked what we use to have there, than I fully expect you to fall in love with the type of tutorials we plan on publishing here at Tutorial9. It’s not even a fair comparison when you look at how much time we’re putting into good articles here at T9 compared to GreyCobra.

    We’ll get into more advanced techniques and styles with time, so don’t go anywhere! Until then, please enjoy our community and try to help others that are just getting started!

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  24. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial, but I’d like to see more advanced tutorials like the ones that used to be on greycobra :P

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    Appreciate it mate =)

    We’ve tried to structure all of the lessons in our School of Photoshop series in this manner, to give new Photoshop users a really in depth feel for how things work. I really hope they are as helpful as possible!

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    Very nice explanation! I have to say that this site has some of the most useful tutorials on the web. They help you learn, not just make something.

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