How to start using Photoshop CC: It’s easier than you think!

How to get started with Photoshop CC 2019 | Understanding the Photoshop workspace

If you’re new to Photoshop, it can seem pretty overwhelming when you open it up for the first time.

I remember when I first experienced the Photoshop Workspace, about 10 years ago.

I was about eighteen years old and just getting interested in building websites and creating graphics. I was very generously given Photoshop for my computer to help me improve my design skills.

Before then, I had been creating ‘graphics’ in Paint (*shudder*) for an online game that I played with my friends. I wanted to get better at graphic design and knew that part of that would involve learning better design software.

So, there I was, all excited at having this professional software, only to open it up and get instantly overwhelmed by all the different features on the screen. I basically just wanted to close it again and pretend it didn’t exist… because it looked HARD!

But… I knew I couldn’t do that, I had to figure out how to use Photoshop.

It took me ages to discover how to open a new document, let alone actually do any designing.

I started experimenting and clicking different options to get to know the program and soon it became clear that the Photoshop workspace was nowhere near as daunting as I originally thought.

The first step to learning Photoshop is to understand the Photoshop Workspace and how to customise it based on your graphic design needs.

Opening Photoshop for the first time

Watch this video to find out what to expect the first time you open Photoshop CC 2019.

In this beginner’s Photoshop video, you’ll discover:

  • What the Photoshop welcome screen looks like & how to use it
  • How to access training videos from Adobe [0.30]
  • How to create a new file that’s a common paper/photo size [1.22]
  • How to create a new file that’s a custom size specific to your project [1.46]
  • How to reset your Photoshop workspace [2.55]
  • How to customise Photoshop’s workspace by closing tabs [3.38]
  • How to reopen tabs if you accidentally close one [3.54]

This video was recorded in Photoshop Creative Cloud version 20.0.1 which is the 2019 version.

Prefer to read rather than watch? Not a problem! Read the full tutorial below.

Photoshop CC 2019’s welcome screen

When you open Photoshop for the first time, you’ll get a screen which looks something like this.

Welcome screen in Photoshop CC 2019

This screen it shows you all of your recent files so that you can open them quickly if you need to.

Your screen might look a little bit different to the screenshot above, because if you’ve never opened Photoshop before then you won’t have any files that you’ve worked on before, so your screen is likely to look fairly empty.

From this screen there are several useful things that you can do.

You can click “Learn” on the top left to browse video tutorials directly from Adobe.

Learn how to use Photoshop

It’s a great idea to go through these and watch some videos and lessons, especially if you are new to Photoshop completely or if you are transitioning to CC 2019 from an older version of Photoshop.

Some of the tutorials have little interactive games, quizzes or activities to teach you how to use all the different tools in Photoshop.

The tab underneath “Learn” is called “LR Photos”.

LR stands for Lightroom which is another piece of Adobe software that’s aimed at photographers.

I’m not going to be talking about how to use Lightroom as it’s not something that I have ever needed to use before – and I’m certainly not a good photographer J

Underneath, we’ve got two buttons to either “Create New” which will create a new file, or “Open” to open an existing file.

Create New and Open buttons in Photoshop

Create a new file in Photoshop

When you click “Create new” it will open up another box where you can choose the type of file that you want to make.

Along the top of this popup you’ve got popular sizes, from photos to print and other options too.

If you choose print, you’ve got US letter or you can choose A4 which is the standard paper size in the UK.

Photoshop document presets for common sizes

If you can’t see the size that you’re looking for, click “View all Presets” to see more options. You can scroll through the different options to try and find the one you’re after.

If you can’t find it, or you want to create a non-standard canvas size then you can create your own custom file.

To do that, go over to the right-hand side where you’ve got widths and heights and just type in the values that you desire.

For example if we are making a Pinterest pin, we want it to be 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels tall. The resolution should be 72 dpi (pixels per inch).

Create a custom document in Photoshop

72 dpi is what you want if you’re designing something that’s going to be uploaded to the web and only live on the internet, e.g. your social media graphics and Pinterest pins.

If you’re designing something for print e.g. printables that someone’s actually going to print out on their computer then go for 300 dpi instead which is a much higher quality file.

There is one little bit that I accidentally missed out of the training video at the top of this post, and that’s to make sure you untick the “artboard” checkbox. Leaving it ticked can cause some difficulties later on, so I always leave it unticked.

Next, click the “Create” button and Photoshop will generate the file for you at the dimensions you have specified.

Understanding Photoshop’s workspace

The Photoshop workspace is simply the ‘main screen’ in Photoshop.

It’s how you access all the brilliant design features that Photoshop provides. It’s where you open and save files, choose the tools you want to work with, preview your work, set your brand colours, add text and – well – do anything else that you want to do in Photoshop.

This is the default Photoshop layout when you create a file for the first time:

What to expect when you open Photoshop

Your screen might look a little bit different to mine, especially if you have opened Photoshop before and had a little play about with it.

All the menus and boxes can be moved about and closed, and then there’s some more that you can open. If you have previously customized your workspace (even accicentally!) then it won’t look exactly like the screenshot above.

You can reset your workspace to the original layout by going to “”Window” in the top menu bar, then “Workspace”.

I like to use the “Essentials Default” workspace option. If you click “Reset Essentials” it will put it back to how it comes when you first get Photoshop.

Reset to the default Photoshop workspace screen

If you do that, your screen should now be looking exactly like the image above.

How to close, hide & open tabs in Photoshop CC 2019

You’ll notice that there are lots of boxes on the right-hand side of your screen.

You don’t actually need all of these to be open, as you probably won’t use very many of the options when designing your graphics and printables.

To close the boxes, you simply put your mouse over the one you want to close, right-click and then click “Close Tab Group” to hide them.

Close tab group in Photoshop CC 2019

You can always get them back in the future if you want to by clicking “Window” in the top menu. This lists out all possible tabs that you can have open.

Photoshop windows menu item to open tabs and tab groups

If you click the one that you want from that list, it’ll pop up and then you can move it about if you want to by clicking and dragging on the name of the tab group “e.g. “Layers”).

How to use Photoshop for beginners

Don’t worry if it all seems a little bit daunting now.

There are SO many options in Photoshop that it can be pretty overwhelming, especially for beginners.

However, don’t panic – there’s an easy way to overcome this overwhelm, and that’s to sign up for “Photoshop Made Simple” – my FREE video course on how to use Photoshop.

In this course, you’ll learn the basics of Photoshop so that you can create your own graphics quickly and easily.

If you’re a blogger who wants to learn Photoshop, this is the course for you!

Learn Photoshop today – sign up now (it’s freeeee).

Photoshop workspace: recap

To recap, what we’ve covered in this post is opening Photoshop for the first time, creating a new file and resetting your screen so that it matches the one I’ve used in my “Photoshop Made Simple” free e-course.

This will make it easy for you to follow along with the whole video course as our screens will match so you will have access to all the tools and buttons that I use.

I hope to see you inside the course 🙂