Photoshop provides a neutral gray canvas around your images when you work in full screen mode, or when you zoom out so the image is smaller than your document window.

Have you ever wished you could change the color of this default grey? There’s and easy way, and although most people don’t know the trick, it’s been in Photoshop since version 4.0.

Step-By-Step: Changing Photoshop’s Canvas Color.

Here are the basic steps for this technique (if the animated GIF wasn’t clear):

1. Set the foreground color you want to use for the canvas.

2. Select the Paint Bucket tool.

The Paint Bucket is hidden under Photoshop’s Gradient Tool, in case you’ve never had reason to use it.

3. Shift-Click on your canvas area to change the color.

Photoshop’s Full Screen Mode Canvas Options.

Photoshop lets you switch between a variety of screen modes (including a new mode added in Photoshop CS3). Interestingly, this technique allows you to change the canvas color on each screen mode separately. So if you want a gray canvas while working, but a white canvas when presenting, you can customize to your heart’s content.

Press the F key to cycle through Photoshop’s screen modes:

Standard: The default view with individual windows.

Maximized (new in CS3): The pasteboard fills the window and the document is enlarged to the maximum possible size without being covered by any palettes. Gray canvas by default.

Full screen: Hides the Status bar and fills the screen with the pasteboard, with the menu still visible. Gray canvas by default.

Presentation mode: Same as previous but without any menu at the top. Black canvas by default.

Tip: As always, press the TAB key to hide and show your palettes while working. (Press Shift-TAB to hide all palettes except the toolbox).

Argh! What was Photoshop’s original gray again?

If you find yourself wanting to get back to the neutral gray canvas Photoshop shipped with, open your color picker and use an RGB setting of:

R: 204 G: 204 B: 204

You can put your canvas color back to the defaults Photoshop shipped with.

Source: This tip inspired by a entertaining troubleshooting phone call with photographer Jim Mannino at Landreth Studios. Jim had accidentally changed the color of his canvas and didn’t know how he had done it.