Adobe Photoshop update brings custom toolbars and artboards

Adobe's November update for Photoshop CC delivers new features that are sure to boost productivity.

Before the sun sets on 2015, Adobe has another round of updates for its Creative Cloud software. The new features span a number of apps, but we'll focus on Photoshop CC. To boost overall productivity, and to save you time and a few headaches, Adobe is giving the photo-editing software custom toolbars. This means that you'll be able to add, delete and rearrange what appears in that set of tools on the left side of the interface. The new feature allows to you customize the layout of your workspace so that only the items you use are taking up valuable space. In theory, you'll spend less time hunting for the tool you're after, too.

Next, Photoshop will also support multiple artboards in the same file. Until now, you've had to rely on layers and groups to be able to toggle on/off multiple screens of an app or pages of a website layout. Now, you can create those separately, just like you would in other Adobe apps like Illustrator. You won't have to worry about organizing layers so they give you a proper preview anymore, as Photoshop will allow you to lay out those screens, pages and alternate versions of designs side-by-side. And, most importantly, they'll remain visible at all times.

To get you working as quickly as possible, there's a new Recent Files view that you'll see when you fire up the app. This change will offer faster access to items you've been working on in a grid of thumbnails. You can also easily access assets stored in Creative Cloud Libraries from that screen or create a new file. As you might expect, there's a button that'll let you search for a file that you haven't already opened. If you find that you don't like the new "start experience," you can disable it and have Photoshop open to a blank workspace.

Adobe's tweaks for Photoshop CC also include tidying up the overall interface. These changes improve the UI not only on the desktop with a flatter look, but on touch-driven devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro as well. Speaking of touch devices, there's a new on-screen tool to help with keyboard-driven shortcuts by putting buttons for shift, tab, and alt right to the left of the workspace. Should the need arise, simply tap or hold them down to complete a task just like you would if you have a full keyboard. We're talking about things like drawing a straight line or duplicating objects, for example.

Sifting through a big font library can also be quite time consuming, so Adobe added the ability to favorite fonts to save you time. If you have a handful of fonts that you use regularly, you can favorite those for easier access. There's also a machine-driven font similarity tool that'll serve up alternatives from your computer and Adobe Typekit based on the appearance of text that you select. Photoshop CC's custom toolbars and multiple artboards may be the most attractive improvements, but it's clear that Adobe is keeping its promise to regularly improve performance across Creative Cloud. And that starts with its flagship photo-editing app.