Photoshop CS6: Layers palette is more difficult to scan in Photoshop CS6

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  • Updated 3 years ago
I'm usually not the one to complain about visual changes to software, but with a power tool such as Photoshop, such changes need to be very well thought out and crafted. With Photoshop CS6, I don't think that is the case. I feel the layers palette was much easier to scan in CS5, because the icons and the separating lines are much better defined.

In CS6, they all blend into the background of the layers palette and the separating lines between layers in the layer palette, while slightly less subtle and more prominent, are really just more distracting than helpful. I think the lines between layers in CS5 layers palette was much easier to scan and it worked really well with many nested groups (where the white part of the line to the left indicated (roughly) the position of the layer within groups).

As someone who works with documents that can have thousands of layers, this change is really quite painful. Something like the layers palette should always be optimized for very fast scanning and visibility and I feel Adobe missed that point with CS6.

My suggestion is to make the icons and the bounding borders of the layer thumbnail stand out better and use the same concept of the separating line between layers that CS5 uses (where part of the line is a different color, which indicates the position in the grouping hierarchy).

Additionally, with darker layouts, the contrast between the layer box and the layer name label is too strong and as a result, makes the actual layer type and associated parameters less visible at a glance. Generally speaking, the name of the layer is always less important than what kind of a layer it is, so the layer name should visually be less prevalent.

Thank you for your time,
Riho Kroll
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Riho Kroll

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Posted 4 years ago

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edward.caruso

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i have complained endlessly about this - i feel that the 2 lighter UI's do not have enough contrast in the panels, icons, etc. Maybe they are trying to match Apple's Lion UI - which is a mistake.
Please continue to voice your displeasure with specific examples (maybe screenshots from CS5 to CS6) and maybe this will be adjusted down the line.

I also want to change the highlight color from that really subtle light blue they have chosen. Before it was nice that PS would use the user's system color. Now it is too bland and hard to differentiate.
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Aman Anderson

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I completly agree, I am one not to use images in my layer palette, and in CS5 this was a breeze, but now the icons are different, there is no white box on the icons anymore, and I can't preview the color of the vector object that I created in Photoshop. Before it would show a box with the color letting me know that was the right layer, not it shows nothing.



Even though setting the layer palette to no images may be a rarity among photoshop users, it's something that I value in photoshop, especially since my documents have hundreds of layers. I consider this a valuable option for power users, and I believe that we all can speak to the fact that photoshop is still used by power user. Please don't sacrifice power users for consumers as Apple did with Final Cut Pro X.
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Riho Kroll

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Could also include a link back here.
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Aman Anderson

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True, I'll do that
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Matt Bowmer

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This is my biggest beef. I don't use thumbnails to minimise space, so identifying shape layers by their color was one of the most useful features of the layers palette. Now it's useless for visualising the layer structure at a glance, or for quickly turning layers and effects on and off without selecting them individually first to find out what they are.

The excuse seems to be having a fill and stroke icon would be 'messy', but it would still be more efficient than the thumbnail mode or even CS5's palette, which had the link icon between the fill and vector mask icons.

Surely how cluttered that palette gets could be our choice - 'turn on stroke icons' or 'show fill colour in vector icon'?
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Benny Chew

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I agree! Icons in CS5 were bigger and more clear to see. Especially _no_ vector object colors in CS6 is not so nice.
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Mark Reynolds

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Yes - I just knew there would be a thread about this.

First of all a compliment - the filters at the top of the Panel so you can just view the content you want. Brilliant! much needed, well implemented and a huge benefit.

But the whole new look and design of the Layers Panel is, let's face it, absolutely terrible. It is not remotely "modern" in look or feel, it just looks lazy and rattled off, as if it were designed for low res monitors.

It is extremely poorly designed visually. It's distracting and difficult to find anything. The icons look like nothing more than throwbacks to some 90's Windows interface.

There is no longer an easy way to distinguish non editable Layer Groups from pixel layers themselves. The Adjustment Layer icons are also poorly designed.

One example - The eye icon for the visibility of a layer. Now lets get this straight, if the layer is visible it shows an eye. But if its not its a - what is that -a button? doesn't make sense. Bad thinking.

The whole look and feel feels much more poorly thought out and shabby than previous versions. It also feels cluttered and complex.

Its a terrible mistake and I've no idea how this needless change got through. The CS5 and frankly all previous versions of Photoshop the Layers Panel interface is a breath of fresh air. Clear, clean and uncluttered. It was always such a huge benefit of Photoshop over other imaging software. It's so important that this part of Photoshop is well designed visually, you spend so much of your time in this Panel.

I also absolutely hate the fact that the type in the panel is not properly anti-aliased.

PLEASE someone help us out and change this in an update, or provide a patch.
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Karen Bryant

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Just to complicate things even more, I thought this was a bug with files originally created in CS5. I have a file with many layers and the previews of the shape layers seem to be missing entirely. I can no longer see what is on some of the layers because the shape layer icon totally covers what is on the layer.

Then I tried drawing a new shape, exactly the same as a shape already on the canvas, slightly higher up and there was still no preview. THEN I drew another shape, exactly the same but to one side and, low and behold, there is a preview of the shape, as it should be, in the layers panel! I was able to drag the shape above the 2 other shapes on the canvas and the layer preview remained.

So, with the attached images:

'Button' is the original layer shape from CS 5, at the bottom of the screen shot with Read More text

'Rectangle 1' is the new shape I drew directly above the original shape, no layer preview.

'Rectangle 2' is the 2nd new shape I drew elsewhere on the canvas and dragged above the other 2, THIS ONE HAS A LAYER PREVIEW!

I hope this makes sense to the other's who have posted and any moderators.

I'm on a Mac running OS X Snow Leopard 10.7.4 and using Photoshop Extended 13.0 x64 downloaded from the Creative Cloud.



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lister.belfast

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I completely agree.

The pale blue is barely distinguishable from the light gray background. It's a 'bit' more visible on the darker background, but then everything else is harder to see - must have been designed by an ex web designer who still thinks white text and icons on black looks 'classy'. A poor (idea)man's shortcut.

CS6 Windows.
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Jei Nayon

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I also experience the difficulty in the layers thumbnail/icon in CS6. I tried adjusting it from the Panel Options but still the layer's are only adjusting its size. No changes with the shape icon. Does Adobe have any options/settings on this? Whenever I'm working with lots of layers I got a hard time looking for the shapes.
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mathias

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I echo everyone here, at the top of my lungs. I am MORTIFIED by the update to the Layers Panel. This issue may seem small, but no, it truly is a BIG deal.

I use CS5 at work, and have CS6 at home. When I work all day in the office, in PS CS5, then go home to CS6 . . . the difference I have to endure is VERY grating.

When I fired up Photoshop CS6 for the first time I immediately noticed how sparse the Layers Panel had become. And it does look "nicer". It's simpler, aesthetically . . . but is this why it was changed so much . . . to make it look "nicer". In the context of a UI, Function-Over-Form can't possibly ring truer.
I feel the Photoshop developers erroneously favored "form" before "function" when redesigning the Layers Panel, which was mandatory since all controls were re-written as 64-bit.

How on earth did this change get through beta!?

If the dev's are THAT opposed to reverting back to CS5's Layers Panel style, perhaps a legacy option could be the solution we all seek.

That, or a 3rd party write a plug-in to FIX the Layers Panel, now that it's degraded into what it is now. If there's a 3rd party out there interested in doing this, I WILL DONATE MONETARILY TO YOUR CAUSE, as I'm sure others would too.
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Chris Buckley

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My thoughts exactly!

I've been using CS6 for approx 2 months now and still struggle to "visually" use the new layers window. It's just not as efficient as previous versions, and I've been using Photoshop since 1998, throughout all the versions.

It reminds me in some way of the way Microsoft have implemented some of their "Metro" changes, leaving out many icons in favour of just simple text, which might look clean but sure as heck doesnt help users identify with things.

Adobe, Photoshop is a VISUAL tool, so give us some visual improvements to the new layers pallette.

There's zero improvements for me from CS5 in this regard.

Another beef I'm having is that certain layers don't have a preview at all, whilst others have their contents shown, and I can't seem to figure out why. I have two similar layers, both with similar sized content, and both converted to a smartobject. One of them has a preview icon with its content shown, and the other just has a default square icon which doesn't tell me anything apart from the fact its a smartjobject.

Whats the craic here Adobe?
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mathias

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Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

It occurs to me - this is such a subjective issue that I'm afraid it automatically takes on low priority, if any at all with the devs. It's not a bug. It's not a mistake. It's a design decision that we're questioning. So, if I'm on the PS team, what might I do to change this for the better? It's not a simple fix, with clear explicit instructions as to what needs changed.

A programmer executes instructions. A designer designs.

The Layers Panel needs to be redesigned, and explicit instructions down in writing. Otherwise, the PS team may or may not make the wanted changes. I think we've only outline the issue in principle so far and I don't think that's good enough.

What I'm trying to say is, we need a detailed punchlist. We need precise bullet points. An official submittal.
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edward.caruso

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I know I voiced by displeasure during the beta stage with comparisons in UI contrast from CS5 to CS6 but it didn't really get anywhere. the change was made, time was spent on it and that was it. the early UI changes were really really difficult to use. i'm sure they will work on it more for CS7 - something always seems to change (UI or icon wise) with each release. I find the CS6 UI icons to be especially worse than the CS5 icons.
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mathias

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Hmmm . . . I wasn't a beta tester. Maybe I should start. How does one become a beta tester?

But back to my point - I think a more structured approach to this could be beneficial. I may try to put together an official list to present to others. It might even include pics. Whatever it takes to get the PS team's attention and make them understand.
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Aman Anderson

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--Comment edited because of disclosure policies.--
As a previous user of Photshop 6, I expressed concern to Adobe, even made phone calls. But I believe this change is here to stay until we see what they come up with for CS7. I do believe we should still express our concerns to Adobe, and I would encourage you to make the list and submit it to Adobe. They really do listen to their customers. They may not be able to complete or fulfill every desire, but they do listen. They are passionate users of Photshop and other Adobe products as well. I do hope to see many advancements to the new CS7.
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mathias

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Right, the way Photoshop handles vector has been improved, there now being strike controls, etc. And this I'm sure changed the game quite a bit for the devs.
But I simply don't believe that they lack the ability to give the Layers Panel it's spot color swatch back (as seen in the image in the 2nd post of this thread [red square]). Since there's now a stroke too, the Layers Panel's vector layer swatch would just represent the layer's fill, and ignore the stroke. The options toolbar has controls for stroke, etc.

I don't know . . . I think it's all just a matter of executive power.
To hear "not able to make the change as it was too late" I simply don't buy. That may have been true for v13 due to deadlines they were surely under, but what about updates later on? It's never too late. Saving such changes for v14 doesn't make sense - if it's going to change, it ought to be changed (fixed!) asap.

Fortunately, there's lots of good things in v13 to be happy about. That helps.
I acknowledge we'll never all be happy; they can't please everyone all the time . . . but . . . some things are rather blatantly in need of improvement . . .
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Roy Abbink

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This is the main disadvantage of Photoshop CS6. I completely agree with the discussion starter.
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Brandon Edwards

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So does Adobe plan to fix the issue or will we just have to accept their buggy software? I'm REALLY starting to regret upgrading now..