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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 screena 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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