Toolbar Break down


Toolbar Break Down Feature Image

Welcome back to the Photoshop series this week we look at the toolbar. It is a bit delayed, but let’s jump in.

The toolbar has three main sections namely the selection tools, retouching & painting tools, vector tools & navigation tools. The vector tools section also includes the type tools. We also have a couple of tools that do not specifically fit into any of the main sections like for example the frame tool, eyedropper tool, color picker, quick mask, and the view tool.

Selection Tools

Selection Tools

The selection tools are mostly used to create geometric or freehand selections to create transformations to your layers.

The Marque tool is for geometric selections like circles and rectangles as well as a single row or column selection which only selects a single line of pixels

Frame tool

Frame tool

The frame tool is a slightly newer feature in photoshop but it allows you to create a frame where you can insert media and it will only be visible within the frame. Mostly used for layout designs where you can quickly insert different media like logos or images without having to create a layer mask and re-position the new media.

Eyedropper Tools

Eyedropper tool

The main function is to allow you to pick any color on your canvas but there are extra tools that fall under the eyedropper tool, but they are very self-explanatory as they do exactly what their name suggests.

Retouching and painting tools

Retouching and painting tools

This is where you will find the brush tools, clone stamp tool, history brush, eraser, gradient tool, smudge tool, burn tool and more. Mainly used to create pixels on the canvas and push them around or even darken and brighten them with any brush shape you have selected. At the bottom of this post, I will give a list of all the tools with a brief description of each.

Vector & Type Tools

Vector and type tools

These tools work with mathematical equations like you would find in Illustrator. They can be resized as many times as you would like or as big or small as you like and they will not lose quality. They will also stay vector until you select the layer and rasterize it.

The Type tool reacts in the same way and can also be rasterized, but this cannot be undone and the same goes for the shape tool and the pen tool.

Navigation tools

Navigation tools

Helps you to navigate around the canvas and even rotate it for when you are drawing and would like to draw at different angles to get the desired stroke or make it easier for yourself. You also have the magnify tool to help you zoom in and out.

Color Picker

color picker tool

This is used to select your foreground and background color and as a quick tip, when the color picker is opened and you click and hold the eyedropper tool in the bottom corner you can color pic from outside of your photoshop window.

The arrows above the foreground and background color blocks allow you to switch between the active color and the black and white squares to the left set your foreground to pure black and background color to pure white this can also be done by hitting the “D” key

Quick Mask Tool

Quick mask tool

This activates quick mask which allows you to paint where you want to be selected and can also be activated with the “Q” key and after painting the pixels you want you can hit the key again to turn it into a selection.

Window Tool

Window View Tool

Allows you to change your viewport and this can also be done by hitting “TAB”. That’s pretty much all it does…

Customizing Your Toolbar

Customize toolbar

This icon allows you to customize your toolbar completely. You can change the shortcut keys to current tools or create a whole new tool setup that fits your needs.

Tool Summary

All the tools include a short description when you hover over them in photoshop, but I am working on a printable cheat sheet which will be available for free. The cheat sheet will include the shortcut keys along with a short description and they will be sorted in the relevant categories.


I hope you liked this weeks post and I’ll be seeing you next week. Hit the share button and spread the word and if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

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