“Start” Workspace

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Today’s Question: When I open Photoshop, I get an initial screen that shows recently used images in either thumbnail or list view format. Clicking on an image opens it. But then when I want to open another image, going to the File menu and selecting Open Recent only gives a text file list. There doesn’t seem to be any way to view the list as thumbnails. How can I get back to the initial Photoshop screen that shows the recent images as thumbnails?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “Start” workspace that provides the thumbnail view of recent files is only available when there are no images open. If it is enabled in Preferences, you will see the Start workspace when you initially launch Photoshop, or when you close all open images.

More Detail: The Start workspace is essentially a specialty version of the type of saved workspace you can create in Photoshop. Oddly, while you can switch to another saved workspace when you are viewing the Start workspace, you can’t switch back to the Start workspace if there are any open images.

If you want to have access to the Start workspace, you’ll first want to enable it in Preferences. In the Preferences dialog (accessible from the Edit menu on Windows or the Photoshop menu on Macintosh) choose the General tab. Then turn on the “Show ‘Start’ Workspace When No Documents Are Open” checkbox. Quit Photoshop and launch it again to activate the change.

When you launch Photoshop you’ll see the Start workspace, complete with the option to display thumbnails for recently opened images. If you want to switch to a different workspace, you can go to the menu and choose Window > Workspace, and then select the desired workspace. As long as you don’t have any images open, you can switch back to the Start workspace by selecting it from the Window > Workspace submenu.

However, if you have an image open, you won’t have access to the Start workspace. To bring up the Start workspace you would need to close all open images. Unfortunately, there is not a way to view the list of images on the Open Recent submenu as a list of thumbnails, so the Start workspace is indeed your best option.

Worse, the reason this is no longer an option is that the “Recent Files” workspace was removed from Photoshop. This workspace provided the functionality you are looking for, but is no longer available. Instead you’ll need to close all open images in order to access the “Start” workspace.