Written by Steve Patterson. In the previous tutorial, we learned all about the Start screen (the Start workspace) in Photoshop and how it serves as a great starting point for our work by letting us create new Photoshop documents, open existing images, or re-open any recent files, all from a single, convenient location.
There's no doubt that the Start screen was a great new addition back in Photoshop CC 2015 and its recent update in CC 2017 makes it even more useful, especially for beginner Photoshop users. Yet the fact is, we've been able to create new documents and open images since long before the Start screen came along, and we can still do so today without using the Start screen. Adobe knows that not everyone will want to use it, which is why they included an option to disable the Start screen, as we'll see in a moment.
Yet if we disable the Start screen, how do we create new Photoshop documents? How do we open images? How do we re-open our recent files? In this tutorial, we'll learn how to do all of these things very easily using a few old school Photoshop commands that are still available to us even in the most recent version of Photoshop.
Keep in mind that I'm in no way trying to convince you to stop using the Start screen. If you like it, great! It really is a useful feature. But if you do decide to disable it, or you're just curious to know how to create new documents or open images without the Start screen, here's how to do it. Let's get started!
How To Disable The Start Workspace In Photoshop
By default, the Start screen appears whenever we launch Photoshop CC without first selecting an image or document to open along with it. It also appears each time we close out of a document and have no other documents open on the screen. Any recently-opened files appear as thumbnails in the center of the Start screen. I covered the Start screen in detail in our Updated Start Workspace In Photoshop CC tutorial so you'll want to check out that tutorial first if you haven't done so already. Here, we'll focus on how to disable the Start screen and work without it:
To disable the Start screen, all we need to do is deselect it in Photoshop's Preferences. On a Windows PC, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choose Preferences, and then choose General. On a Mac (which is what I'm using here), go up to the Photoshop CC menu, choose Preferences, then choose General:
This opens the Preferences dialog box set to the General options. Look for the option that says Show "START" Workspace When No Documents Are Open. By default, the option is selected (checked). To disable the Start screen, simply uncheck this option:
You'll need to quit and relaunch Photoshop for the change to take effect. To quit Photoshop, on a Windows PC, go up to the File menu at the top of the screen and choose Exit. On a Mac, go up to the File menu and choose Quit Photoshop CC:
Then, relaunch Photoshop the same way you normally would. When Photoshop opens, the Start screen will not appear. Instead, you'll see an empty workspace. This is how Photoshop opened back before the Start screen was added in Photoshop CC 2015:
How To Create New Photoshop Documents
To create a brand new Photoshop document with the Start workspace disabled, go up to the File menu at the top of the screen and choose New. You could also press the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+N (Win) / Command+N (Mac). Either way, this is the exact same command that we access by clicking the New... button on the Start screen:
Photoshop will open the New Document dialog box where we can create our new document, either from a preset, a template, or by entering our own custom values. I covered the New Document dialog box briefly in our Updated Start Screen in Photoshop CC 2017 tutorial, and I cover it in more detail in the How To Create New Documents In Photoshop CC tutorial. So for now, I'll simply close out of it by clicking the Close button in the bottom right corner:
How To Open Existing Images
To open an existing image without using the Start screen, all we need to do is once again go up to the File menu at the top of the screen and this time, choose Open. Or, use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+0 (Win) / Command+0 (Mac). This is the exact same Open command that we access by clicking the Open... button on the Start screen:
Once you click Open, use File Explorer on a Windows PC, or Finder on a Mac, to navigate to the location on your computer when your image is stored. Then, double-click on it to open it:
The image will open in Photoshop, ready for editing, just as it would if we had used the Start screen:
I'll simply close the image for now by going up to the File menu and choosing Close:
How To Re-Open A Recent File
So far, we've learned how to create new Photoshop documents and open images with the Start screen disabled. But how do we re-open a recent file? The Start screen automatically displays our recent files for us, but even with the Start screen disabled, we can still view our recent files just by going up to the File menu and choosing Open Recent. Your recently-opened files will appear in a list. Select the one you need to re-open it.
The only downside here is that the Start screen can display our recent files as thumbnails, while the Open Recent command only displays them by name. So in this case, the Start screen does end up being more convenient:
I'll select an image from the list, and here we see that it opens in Photoshop, just as it would if I had selected it from the Start screen:
Turning The Start Screen Back On
To disable the Start screen, all we had to do was uncheck the Show "START" Workspace When No Documents Are Open option in Photoshop's Preferences. To turn the Start workspace back on after disabling it, on a Windows PC, go back up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choose Preferences, and then choose General. On a Mac, go back up to the Photoshop CC menu, choose Preferences, then choose General. Then, turn the same option back on by clicking inside its checkbox:
You'll need to quit and relaunch Photoshop for the change to take effect. When you do, the Start screen will re-appear when Photoshop opens:
Temporarily Hiding The Start Screen
Finally, if you ever want to temporarily hide the Start screen without actually disabling it in Photoshop's Preferences, there's an easy way to do it. If you look up in the top right corner of the Start screen, you'll find the Workspace icon:
Clicking the icon opens a list of workspaces that we can choose from. A workspace is a preset collection and arrangement of panels, and can also include specific menu items and keyboard shortcuts. Adobe includes several workspaces in Photoshop, each geared to a specific type of work, like Photography, Graphic and Web, Painting, as well as others.
Notice that Start is also listed as a workspace, and that it has a checkmark to the left of its name, which means that it's our currently-active workspace:
To switch to a different workspace, simply choose a different one from the list. For example, the default workspace in Photoshop is known as the Essentials workspace. I'll switch to it by selecting it:
As soon as I choose Essentials, the Start screen disappears and is replaced with the Essentials workspace, the same workspace we see when we launch Photoshop with the Start workspace disabled. The only difference is, I haven't actually disabled it. I've only hidden it temporarily:
To get back to the Start workspace, all I need to do is click once again on the Workspace icon in the upper right corner:
And then reselect the Start workspace from the list:
As soon as I reselect the Start workspace, the Start screen re-appears, with no need to quit and relaunch Photoshop:
And there we have it! That's how to disable the Start workspace in Photoshop CC, how to create new documents, open images and re-open recent files with the Start screen disabled, and how to temporarily switch from the Start workspace to a different workspace and back again without needing to quit and relaunch Photoshop!
One issue we noticed in this tutorial was that, with the Start screen disabled, opening our recent files wasn't quite as easy. That's because the Start screen can display our recent files as thumbnails, yet Photoshop's Open Recent command displays them only by name. In the next tutorial, we'll learn how to view our recent files as thumbnails whether we're using the Start screen or not by turning on Photoshop CC's hidden Recent Files panel!