What to do When Your Photoshop Workspace Disappears

There is nothing more alarming than working for hours on a design project or a new graphic for a product and having it disappear before your eyes. Panic starts to set in, and you assume that all the time and creative energy you’ve spent hunched over your computer screen were wasted. Before you throw your computer to the ground, there are solutions to resolve your workspace disappearing in Photoshop.

When your Photoshop workspace disappears, you should:

  1. Restore the Panels in Photoshop
  2. Reset Photoshop’s Appearance to Default
  3. Reset Tools in Photoshop
  4. Reset Your Preferences in Photoshop, or
  5. Customize Your Preferences

Your workspace or panels disappearing can be a common occurrence with Photoshop, especially if you have a large number of panels open simultaneously. There are also just the run-of-the-mill glitches and hiccups that come with using any application. Updates to the program may offer a permanent solution to the problem, but in the meantime, there are a few options you can try before throwing in the towel.

1. Restore the Panels in Photoshop

Panels are what help you keep an eye on, as well as adjust your work on Photoshop. Panels can be stacked, docked, or grouped depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re working in workspace and a panel disappears, there is a simple procedure to make it reappear.

If you can no longer see the toolbar to the left of the screen, you can go up to the “Window” option in the menu at the top of your screen. At the very bottom of the list should be an option called “Tools.” Make sure there is a checkmark next to it. If it is not checked, go ahead and select it. This procedure can be done on any panel under the “Window” menu.

The number of panels open could be the cause of one or more of your panels disappearing. If there are any panels you don’t need in your workspace, simply click on the menu in the right-hand corner of the panel. It should appear as three white lines, and right below “Panel Options,” you will see “Close.” Select to close a single panel, or you can also select “Close Tab Group” if you have grouped your panels together.

2. Reset Photoshop’s Appearance to Default

Now, if it isn’t a single panel, but your entire workspace looks odd or is missing entirely, then this set of instructions is what you need to fix the issue. Aside from the default “Essentials” workspace, which is what most are used to, Photoshop also has some preset workspaces that you might find helpful.

Once you select one of these preset workspaces, Photoshop will open the panels that will be useful to you, according to the work you’re doing. To do this, simply click on “Window>Workspace” and select from the list, which includes motion design, painting, photography, and 3D design.

If you are using the default workspace, “Essentials,” and you can no longer see the panels you were working on, follow a similar procedure and go to “Window>Workspace>Reset Essentials.” Any other workspace you might be using should also be listed under the menu option if you need to reset.

If none of the workspaces mentioned above meet your needs, you can open all your missing panels under “New Workspace.” Select “Window>Workspace>New Workspace,” and Photoshop should record all the locations of your panels, in addition to toolbar options, menus, and keyboard shortcuts. After, you can customize by dragging, moving, or ordering the panels the way you like them before saving your work.

3. Reset Tools in Photoshop

Once you customize the setting of a tool in Photoshop, those settings are saved for every use after that. If you are going to be resetting your workspace in Photoshop, you will also want to reset all tools. Once you’ve reset the tools, you can go in and customize the tool settings once again.

  1. Select any one of your tools in your toolbar. Don’t worry; we are not resetting one by one.
  2. You’ll want to hold down the control key on your keyboard. If you’re using a Mac, the key will just say “control.” If you’re on Windows, it will appear as CTRL.
  3. A menu will appear with two options, select “Reset All Tools.”
  4. Hit “Ok” once the program prompts you on your screen.

4. Reset Your Preferences in Photoshop

Similar to your Tool settings, Photoshop stores your Preferences settings. In order to return Photoshop back to the way it was at installation, you will delete the preferences file that will completely reset the application. Before you do this, please make a backup of any of the settings you want to use later, as they will not be preserved.

  1. Close the program if it is currently running on your computer.
  2. If you are using a Mac, you will hold down the Shift+Command+Option keys at the same time then open Photoshop. If you’re using Windows, you will hold down the Shift+CTRL+Alt keys then double-click on Photoshop to launch.
  3. A dialogue box will appear on your screen and ask you if you want to delete the Photoshop settings file and you will select “Yes.”

5. Customize Your Preferences

Once Photoshop is back to its factory settings, you can open the application and customize it to suit your needs. You can adjust the appearance, the tools, change the layout, etc. Be sure to log how you’ve customized it just in case you should have to reset the program in the future. Unfortunately, with any application, there is no guarantee that you won’t have to return it to its default settings.

If you want to avoid having to reset, possibly multiple times, there are other options for your design needs. Consider using a website like Placeit.net which is a user friendly graphic design website we’ve been using a lot ourselves. It’s a good stand in for Photoshop in most cases, especially when creating mockups.


All in all, there are options to fix glitches and issues on Photoshop that could be causing your work to disappear or look different than how you previously had it. Any of the options listed could help you narrow down the root cause of the issue and offer step-by-step instructions on how to fix it, so you can get back to designing or editing.