Photoshop CS6 Settings Tips

Adjust these Photoshop settings to make working in PS easier, faster, and safer!

Whenever I upgrade to a new version of Photoshop or install it fresh I find myself tweaking the settings for a while before I’ve got it working the way I like it.  If you’re new to CS6, you might be annoyed at some of the things it does by default. Here are my Photoshop CS6 settings tips for happy Photoshopping!

PS: This article is written for CS6, but some of these settings apply to earlier versions of Photoshop as well.

1. Turn off Window Docking

Under Edit > Preferences > General  I uncheck “Animated Zoom”, “Zoom Resizes Window”, and “Enable Flick Panning”.  These features are unnecessary and in some cases, rather annoying.

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: turn off animated zoom, zoom redata-lazy-sizes windows, and enable flick panning.

2. Go Back to “Light Grey” Photoshop

Look in Edit > Preferences > Interface for “Color Theme” if you’re like me and don’t care for the dark new Photoshop interface.

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: turn Photoshop away from the dark side in "Color Theme".

3. Turn off “Tabs”

Also in Edit > Preferences > Interface is the ability to disable Photoshop’s annoying “docking” and “tabs” features. With these settings disabled, Photoshop documents will no longer try to join together as you drag one canvas over another.

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: Turn off those annoying tabs and docking.

4. Show more “Recent Files”

What was that file called again? I use File > Open Recent a lot, so I like tho make the Recent Files list nice and long. Go to Preferences > File Handling and look at the bottom for “Recent File List Contains” – increase that bad boy up to at least 30 for a nice, long list of files you were just using.


5. Crank up the History States

This is an important setting – don’t miss your chance to give yourself nearly unlimited undo!

By default, Photoshop comes with 20 history states. That’s just 20 “undo”s! That won’t be nearly enough. I like to crank History States all the way up to 999.

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: Add way more history states for way more undos.

6. Measure in Pixels

I work on the web, not in print, and pixels are the web’s chosen unit of measurement. Go to Edit > Preferences > Units & Rulers to change the default units to Pixels. Photoshop will now default to pixels when you show rulers, draw a selection box, resize your canvas, etc.

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: Turn units to "pixels"

7. Hotkey the Color Picker

Go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > Shortcuts For: “Tools”

This one might be more specific to me since I work on large illustrations when I’m not doing photography, but opening the color picker window via the keyboard is the best. Photoshop didn’t always let you hotkey the color picker, so for years it was one of the only things that couldn’t be accessed via keyboard shortcuts. (Thanks for finally letting us hotkey the color picker, Adobe!)

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: Hotkey the color picker for easy access!

8. Show Brush Stroke Thumbnails

If you ever use any kind of brush in Photoshop (eraser brush, dodge/burn brush, or even the paint brush) you might appreciate seeing the brush stroke as it will look when dragged across the canvas.

With the Brush tool active, click the little arrow dropdown next to its preview in the top toolbar.


Now, look to the right of the large menu that just opened up. Click the tiny gear button. In the menu that opens up, select “Stroke Thumbnail”.


Your brush palette should now look more like this:

Photoshop CS6 settings tips: turn on brush stroke thumbnails to see what a brush will actually look like when it's used.

There we have it – a whole bunch of Photoshop CS6 default settings that you can change to make Photoshop work better for you!

What Photoshop preferences do you like to change after a new install? What do you wish you could change in Photoshop? Let us know in the comments!

Hello there! I'm Mandi, a lifelong crafter with a passion for helping others use technology. DIYCraftPhotography shows artisans how to photograph and publicize their handmade goodies. Thank you for visiting!

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