Raise your hand if you did not “welcome” the Welcome/What’s New screens in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign and promptly turned them off each time you updated to a new version. Now raise your other hand if you can’t figure out how to make the welcome screen in the newest releases go away. (Hint: Don’t look in the Help menu). I’ll tell you how to disable it in a moment, but what if I told you it wasn’t a welcome screen anymore, but that it’s actually a workspace? I know…you’re thinking, “Okay but I already have a favorite workspace, thankyouverymuch.” Aha! What if I told you it that what you’re seeing on launching the latest versions is a magic workspace?
Adobe’s Start Workspace
First off, if you want to disable this new Start workspace—what the Welcome or What’s New screens have morphed into—you can click the gear icon in the upper right corner. Sadly, that just tells you to go to the Preferences menu and disable it there. So, head up to your preferences and de-select “Show ‘Start’ Workspace When No Documents Are Open.” Once you re-start your application, you won’t see the Start workspace, but you might want to read on to see what you’ll be missing.
The Start workspace actually holds a lot of information and gives you a dashboard of sorts for your files and assets. There are three main sections: Recent (Files), (CC) Libraries, and Presets.
Pretty self-explanatory: It’s a list of your recently-accessed files. But, unlike the listing available from the File menu, there is much more file info available here. You can see the file name, the date the file was last opened, the file size, and the file type. That last bit might be unnecessary in InDesign, but is super helpful when opening a file in Photoshop. You can set the number of recent files also in the Preferences, under the File Handling pane. The maximum number of files is 30 for InDesign and Illustrator, and 100 for Photoshop.
The best feature—in my little ol’ humble opinion—is the ability to actually preview those recent files. The default display is a list, but if you click the grid icon at the top, you will be treated to a thumbnail of your files! If you’re still not sure it’s the right file, simply hover over the image (or file name, if you’re in list view) and you will see the file path. Click on the file you want and it opens immediately.
If you’re in InDesign, the label is CC Libraries, to avoid confusion with InDesign Libraries, but no matter the label, you’re able to view your Creative Cloud Libraries from within this Start Workspace. And, to a small degree, you can even manage the content within the libraries.
Click on a library’s name and the CC Libraries panel appears, with that library displaying. You can view, delete, sync, and duplicate the assets in the library, and use the panel menu to share, collaborate, and re-order the items. Basically, you can perform any tasks that you can with an open document, except for adding items to the library, or adding library assets to a document.
Choosing a library from the Start Workspace lets you see what assets are in a particular library to make sure you have the right one selected you’ll need for the project at hand. When you then open or create a new document, that library is the one that will be displayed (if your current workspace is set to display libraries).
This section lets you choose a document preset for your new document. It saves you from having to open the New Document dialog box and choosing a preset. However, going this route, you can’t choose options like custom margins and bleeds.
The information displayed is limited to preset name and a description that includes the size and color space. If you want a visual clue, you can click the grid icon at the top and see a graphic representation of the document preset. Just click on the one you want to open a new document. Clicking on “Custom” will open the New Document dialog box.
Along the bottom of the Start Workspace, you’ll see that you can shop for Adobe Stock and also watch tutorials. Adobe seems to have taken the useful bits from the old welcome screens and jettisoned the junk no one ever used. (Seriously, who ever needed to visit the InDesign User Group page just as they were starting a new document?). Speaking of superfluous sundries, there are buttons labeled New and Open. Yup. The same New and Open that can be accessed with shortcuts some of us have been using since the rest of you were born. But if you can’t remember these ancient shortcuts (Cmd/Ctrl-N and Cmd/Ctrl-O) and you enjoy mousing over to a button, they’re there for you.
I mentioned this new starting environment was actually a workspace and I may have alluded to its magical properties. When you click on a preset or recent file, or choose New or Open, the workspace disappears in an imagined puff of smoke and whatever workspace you last used takes its place as gracefully as a beautiful assistant. Voilà! Told you it was magic.
Recent Files Workspace
The new Start Workspace is on by default, but there is another magic workspace that is off by default. Also in the General pane in Preferences, the Recent Files workspace duplicates the info seen in the Start Workspace, but within a panel.
When this option is selected, choosing Open from within Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign will switch the workspace temporarily to the Recent Files workspace. You’ll have access—via a panel—to the same list of recent files as you would see in the Start workspace. Once you choose a recent file, that file will open and the workspace will reset to whatever one you were last using. If you decide you don’t want to open a recent file, either click the “x” to close the Recent Files panel, click Close in the panel, or hit the Escape key.
So, is it Useful?
This is the first time since the introduction of the welcome screens that I am actually using these startup items. The interface looks the same across all three applications and automatically matches the light/dark user interface settings. The fact that both the Start and the Recent Files workspaces are there when you need them and stay out of your way when you don’t, brings the functionality that we creatives require of our workflows.Tags