Adobe Photoshop Menu Bar Options

Use the menu bar to access a wealth of tools and windows

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One of the basic elements of Adobe Photoshop is the menu bar, located at the very top of the program. The menu bar is used to open and save files, adjust the canvas size, access some of the editing tools, open and close various windows, and more.

The menu bar consists of 11 items: File, Edit, Image, Layer, Select, Filter, Analysis, 3D, View, Window, and Help. Each of those main menus has additional submenus for related options.

You can access most of what's available in the menu bar in other ways, too, like via keyboard shortcuts, right-click menus, or with separate menus located within other windows like Tools, Layers, Timeline, etc. For some options, however, you have to use the menu bar.

These instructions apply to Adobe Photoshop CS5 and later. Some menus and items may be different in other versions.


The File menu in Photoshop is much like the File menu in other programs. It's the primary method for making new files, opening existing ones, saving files, and printing.

For example, if you've just opened Photoshop and you want to import a PNG or JPG file, you can use the File menu to select Open to browse for the picture you want to use. Advanced open operations are supported, too, like opening images in Adobe Bridge, opening Smart Objects, saving photos for web use to reduce the size, and exporting to a video format.

The Open Recent option under the File menu contains a list of the 10 most recently opened files. So long as you haven't moved the original file elsewhere, you can use that option to quickly re-open a file without having to go through the normal "open, select, browse" procedure.

It's also the File menu that lets you convert a video into frames so that you can edit each frame or turn a video into a GIF.

Photoshop with the File menu open


With the Edit menu, you can modify objects on the canvas, menu items, shortcuts, and more.

For example, you can do simple things like undo or redo a recent action, as well as cut, copy, and paste. Those are common actions, so you'll find yourself using those menu options often, or at least learning their keyboard shortcuts.

The Edit menu is also one place where you deal with text, so you can find and replace words and phrases throughout a document. It's also where you'll find the options to Fill selections or add a Stroke along a selected path.

Also here are tools for transforming objects. If you have an image you want to warp, rotate, scale, distort, or flip, use the Edit > Transform submenu to find those options. The Free Transform tool is located here as well, letting you adjust the height, width, and orientation.

The Edit menu is how you open Preset Manager to view brushes, gradients, swatches, custom shapes, and load your own custom ABR brushes. You can also open Color Settings to adjust RGB, CMYK, and other color profiles (and also to load custom CSF and PSP files).

This menu is used to locate existing keyboard shortcuts and define new ones, too, and to change general preferences for how Photoshop works and to show/hide which items are visible on the menu bar.

The Edit menu in Photoshop


Many options related to changing images in Photoshop are available under the Image menu. The first submenu let you change the mode of the whole canvas, between modes like RGB color, grayscale, CMYK color, multichannel, duotone, and more.

Next is a submenu called Adjustments that lets you access various tools for changing an image's brightness, contrast, levels, exposure, vibrance, hue/saturation, and color balance. Also here are the Photo Filter, Channel Mixer, and Color Lookup tools, among others.

Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color are options that will make changes to how an image looks without menus or sliders.

Some important canvas manipulation tools are in the Image menu, called Image Size and Canvas Size. You'd use the Canvas Size option to change the width and height of the whole working area to make it the exact size it needs to be or to shrink or grow the canvas.

Crop and Trim are two other notable tools in this menu. The first resizes the canvas by manually selecting which areas should be deleted. The second is for automating the resize by removing transparent pixels (or pixels of a specific color) from any edge of the canvas.

The Image menu in Photoshop


The Layer menu is where you can create new layers, duplicate existing ones, delete and rename layers, and much more.

Also in this menu are options for creating layer masks, adjustment layers, and fill layers. A fill layer, for example, is a new layer pre-populated with a specific color, pattern, or gradient, which you get to choose when you click it.

You can also use the Layer menu to create and edit Smart Objects, as well as export their contents to a file or replace their contents with that of another Smart Object.

Other options in the Layer menu let you group and hide layers, lock layers, arrange layers behind or in front of other ones, link and merge layers, and flatten the image to automatically merge all the layers.

The Layer menu in Photoshop


Options pertaining to selections are stored in Photoshop's Select menu. You can select everything on the canvas, select all the layers, and deselect everything from this menu. A couple related and useful tools let you invert the selection and re-select a prior selection.

A Refine Edge tool is in the Select menu. You use it to change the edge of a selection. You can adjust the smooth, feather, contrast, and shift edge settings to define specific selection details.

Grow automatically increases a selection to nearby pixels to effectively increase the overall selection area. Keep clicking it to get a broader selection.

Use Save Selection and Load Selection to re-select something later. You can save a new selection and then load it when you need to re-apply it.

The Select menu in Photoshop


Adobe Photoshop filters are contained in the Filter menu. It's here that you can open Filter Gallery to preview artistic, brushstroke, distort, sketch, texture, and other built-in filters.

This menu also contains filters for blur, noise, pixelate, render, and sharpen. To save or load a custom Photoshop filter, go to Filter > Other > Custom and use the Load button to locate the ACF file, or the Save button to make a new ACF file.

The Filter menu is also how you offset horizontal and vertical pixels, like to create an effect of an image doubled over itself.

The Filter menu in Photoshop


The Analysis menu contains tools that help you set a scale for your image. Creating a unified measurement reference is convenient if you're using Photoshop to create plans, blueprints, or maps.

Once you set your reference, you can use the ruler tool to find distances anywhere on your document and place a scale marker.

Analysis menu in Photoshop


Photoshop isn't just for flat images anymore. Newer versions of the software let you create and edit 3D objects for both modeling and printing purposes.

The 3D menu houses the tools you need to modify 3D files and make them look as good as possible. If you don't have one to start from, you can create 3D objects from layers you've already made.

The 3D menu in Photoshop


The View menu includes tools related to how you see things in Photoshop. You can enable a ruler, create guides that you can follow for precise positioning, and change over to full-screen mode.

Some common options in Photoshop's View menu are for zooming. These settings include zooming in and out, auto-fitting the canvas to the same size as the screen, showing the actual pixel size, and displaying the print size.

Other things you can show or hide from the View menu include selection edges, target paths, notes, layer edges, edit pins, guides, slices, mesh, pixel grid, and brush preview.

The View menu in Photoshop


Photoshop's Window menu serves two purposes: hiding and showing windows and arranging the workspace however you like. Since not all available windows are visible all the time, use the Window menu to selectively show or hide them as you need them.

Use the Window menu to toggle all sorts of windows as visible or hidden. Actions, Adjustments, Brush, Channels, Color, History, Layers, Notes, Paths, Timeline, and Tools are a few examples. You won't always need them during your projects, so it's a good idea to hide them to keep your view from cluttering.

Use the Arrange and Workspace submenus to adjust where the windows are positioned. You can also drag and drop windows anywhere you like, even outside of Photoshop's main window, but these menus have some pre-set options for positioning windows in places that are supposed to be easier for certain tasks, like for painting and typography.

The Window menu in Photoshop


The Help menu marks the end of Photoshop's menu bar. You can see the version of Photoshop you're running, get online help, access the Photoshop Support Center, learn more about the installed plug-ins, register Photoshop with Adobe, and more.

The Help menu in Photoshop
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