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Freakout Fixed! Restore Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator CC Environment, Panels After Upgrade

All my Photoshop, InDesign, & Illustrator Panels Are Gone! Did Adobe lose its mind?!

Panic grips mil­lions of Creative Cloud sub­scribers who, af­ter up­dat­ing Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and oth­er CC ap­pli­ca­tions, dis­cov­er all their pan­els and tools have dis­ap­peared. The rad­i­cal re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the trust­ed tools’ user in­ter­faces is elic­it­ing wide­spread con­fu­sion and dis­may, and caus­ing a stam­pede to down­grade to pre­vi­ous ver­sions. Fortunately, there is a sim­ple fix with­out the need to downgrade.

The Problem

After up­dat­ing to the lat­est ver­sion of Adobe Creative Cloud ap­pli­ca­tions Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and oth­ers, the user in­ter­face, in­clud­ing all pan­els and tools, dis­ap­pear. They’re re­placed with a min­i­mal­ist screen list­ing re­cent doc­u­ments and ad­ver­tise­ments for Adobe’s stock pho­to ser­vice and short fea­tures videos (see Figure 1). The dis­ap­pear­ance of pan­els, tool­bars, and all the vi­su­al el­e­ments they’ve known in these Adobe ap­pli­ca­tions for decades has caused many to as­sume their ap­pli­ca­tions have be­come cor­rupt­ed dur­ing the up­grade process. Many more users have down­grad­ed to pri­or ver­sions, of­ten cit­ing the need to work now and fig­ure out what’s wrong with the new ver­sions later.

Figure 1: The new Start workspace freaking out Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator users.

Figure 1: The new Start work­space freak­ing out Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator users.

The Explanation

There ac­tu­al­ly isn’t any­thing bro­ken about the new ver­sions of our mission-critical de­sign tools. The mys­te­ri­ous new user in­ter­face is by de­sign; Adobe did it on purpose.

These ap­pli­ca­tions for­mer­ly launched to ini­tial­ly dis­play the Welcome screen–a fea­ture many found help­ful and an equal num­ber dis­liked (see Figure 2). The Welcome screen in­clud­ed tools for cre­at­ing new con­tent, a list­ing of re­cent doc­u­ments, links to tu­to­r­i­al videos and knowl­edge base ar­ti­cles on new fea­tures, and ad­ver­tise­ments for ad­di­tion­al Adobe prod­ucts and ser­vices. Whereas all of these help­ful (or an­noy­ing) con­trols were con­tained with­in the float­ing di­a­log box Welcome screen, the newest CC edi­tions place them fullscreen, hid­ing every­thing users ex­pect to see when open­ing Adobe ap­pli­ca­tions. The new look is a work­space called Start; it re­placed the Welcome screen.

Figure 2: Welcome screens provided the same tools, ads, and features in previous versions of Adobe CC applications (Illustrator CC in this case).

Figure 2: Welcome screens pro­vid­ed the same tools, ads, and fea­tures in pre­vi­ous ver­sions of Adobe CC ap­pli­ca­tions (Illustrator CC in this case).

The Solution

Like its fore­bear, Start is eas­i­ly by­passed so that work can be­gin. The ques­tion is: do you want to re­move Start for­ev­er (or, at least, un­til the next up­date forces it back in­to your face) or hide it tem­porar­i­ly, al­low­ing it to re­turn next time you launch InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator?

Getting Beyond Start Temporarily

Moving past Start is so in­cred­i­bly easy that there isn’t even a step-by-step need­ed. It’s just one step:

  1. From the Workspace menu in the top-right cor­ner of InDesign, or from Window > Workspaces, choose a dif­fer­ent work­space (see Figure 3). You can pick a de­fault work­space like Essentials or one you pre­vi­ous­ly cre­at­ed. Instantly the Start work­space dis­ap­pears, and you’re ready to get back to work.
Figure 3: Selecting a different workspace from the Workspace menu.

Figure 3: Selecting a dif­fer­ent work­space from the Workspace menu.

Hiding Start Permanently

Hiding Start per­ma­nent­ly is ac­tu­al­ly eas­i­er than for­ev­er dis­miss­ing the Welcome screen was. Follow these sim­ple steps to nev­er see Start again… this version.

  1. On the Mac, choose Preferences > General from the ap­pli­ca­tion menu (e.g. the InDesign CC menu). Windows users Preferences > General from the Bottom of the Edit menu.
  2. Uncheck the box be­side the Show “Start” Workspace When No Documents Are Open op­tion (see Figures 4, 5, and 6). The lo­ca­tion of this con­trol on the General pane varies by ap­pli­ca­tion, but is al­ways on the General pane in the ap­pli­ca­tion Preferences dialog.
Figure 4: Disabling the Start workspace in Adobe InDesign CC.

Figure 4: Disabling the Start work­space in Adobe InDesign CC.


Figure 5: Disabling the Start workspace in Adobe Photoshop CC.

Figure 5: Disabling the Start work­space in Adobe Photoshop CC.


Figure 6: Disabling the Start workspace in Adobe Illustrator CC.

Figure 6: Disabling the Start work­space in Adobe Illustrator CC.


  1. Click OK to close Preferences.
  2. Quit the ap­pli­ca­tion and restart to en­sure the pref­er­ence change is writ­ten to disk.

Inexplicably, you won’t find the Start work­space in the Workspace menu on every ap­pli­ca­tion should you want to ac­cess it again. It’s there in Illustrator and InDesign, but not with­in Photoshop. Once dis­abled in the pref­er­ences, Start will nev­er again ap­pear. To re­store it, you’ll have to reen­able its op­tion in the preferences.

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