When you start Illustrator, a toolbar appears at the left of the screen that includes various tools you need to use while working on your document. The tools in the toolbar let you perform various tasks, such as create, select, and manipulate objects and select, type, paint, draw, sample, edit, and move images. 

toolbar-types_4
A. Basic toolbar B. Advanced toolbar C. All Tools drawer D. Flyout menu E. Tool category F. Tool available in the toolbar G. Tool available in the drawer 

In Illustrator, the tools are broadly organized in the following categories:

  • Select
  • Draw
  • Type
  • Paint
  • Modify
  • Navigate
Tool-bar-chart
Tools in Illustrator

Toolbar types

Illustrator provides the following types of toolbar:

  • Basic: This toolbar is displayed by default when Illustrator is launched. It includes a selective set of tools that you frequently need while working on Illustrator. To view the complete list of tools, click the Edit Toolbar (...) icon displayed at the bottom of the Basic toolbar. The All Tools drawer appears listing all the tools available in Illustrator.
  • Advanced: This toolbar includes all the tools available in Illustrator. To switch from the Basic toolbar to Advanced, do one of the following:
    • Choose Windows Toolbars Advanced.
    • Select Advanced in the flyout menu of the drawer.

The Basic toolbar is replaced with the Advanced toolbar.

Customize the toolbar

You can customize a toolbar by moving tools between the toolbar and the drawer. You can add more tools from the drawer to the toolbar or remove tools from the toolbar.

Add and remove tools

You can add one tool or multiple tools together as a group from the All tools drawer to the toolbar.

  • To add a one tool at a time in the toolbar, drag the tool and drop at the divider line between the tools.

To remove a tool from the toolbar, drag the tool from the toolbar and drop anywhere in the drawer. The tool is automatically added to the category to which it belong.

To go back to the original settings, click Reset in the flyout menu of the drawer.

add-single-tool_1
A. Adding a tool as a group on the toolbar B. Adding a tool separately on the toolbar 

Add multiple tools in a group

You can select multiple tools from the drawer, irrespective of the categories they belong to and add them as one tool group in the toolbar.

To select multiple tools together and add them as one custom group, do the following:

  1. Press the Shift key and click the tools you want to add to the toolbar. Alternatively, use Ctrl+click (Windows) or cmd+click (macOS) to select multiple tools.
  2. Drag the selection and drop at the divider line between tools in the toolbar.

The icon for the tool you select first is displayed in the toolbar.

Similarly, to remove multiple tools together, you can select them using the Shift key and drag them from the toolbar to the drawer.

add-multiple-tools_2
A. Adding multiple tools as a group within a tool on the toolbar B. Adding multiple tools in a separate group on the toolbar 

View tools in a tool group

To view a list of all tools in a tool group, do one of the following:

  • Left-click the tool to view a list of all the tools in the tool group.
  • Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS), and then click a tool to cycle through and select tools in the group.

  • Press the keyboard shortcut of a tool. The keyboard shortcut is displayed in the tool tip and the All Tools drawer. For example, you can select the Move tool by pressing the V key.

View-tools-in-a-tool-group
View tools in a tools group

Tip: To hide tool tips, choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > General (macOS), and deselect Show Tool Tips.

Note:

If you install any third-party tools, by default they are shown on the toolbar. If you have added more custom toolbars, the third-party tools are available in their drawers.

Show or hide controls

You can show or hide the following controls on the toolbar by selecting their icons in the Show section displayed at the bottom of the drawer:

  • Control Visibility of Fill Stroke Control
  • Control Visibility of Coloring Control
  • Control Visibility of Drawing Mode Control
  • Control Visibility of Screen Mode Control
Toolbar_show

Change drawing modes and screen modes using the toolbar

Click the icons at the bottom of the toolbar to change the drawing mode from Draw Normal () to Draw Behind () or Draw Inside ().

Additionally, you can also change the screen mode by clicking the Change Screen Mode icon () at the bottom of the toolbar and choosing the desired screen mode.

To switch to the Advanced toolbar, which is a full-fledged toolbar including all the tools, do one of the following:

  • Choose Windows Toolbars Advanced.
  • Select Advanced in the flyout menu of the drawer.

The Basic toolbar is replaced with the advanced toolbar.

Create and manage toolbars

Do the following to create your own customized toolbars:

  • In the drawer of the toolbar, choose New Toolbar in the flyout menu.
  • Choose Windows > Tools > New Toolbar

After you provide a name and click OK, a blank toolbar is created. Click the Edit Toolbar button to open the drawer and add tools to the toolbar.

Manage toolbars

When you have multiple toolbars available, do the following to manage the toolbars:

  1. Do one of the following to open the Manage Toolbars dialog box:
    • Click Windows > Tools > Manage Toolbars.
    • Choose Manage Toolbars in the flyout menu of the drawer.
    Manage_toolbars
  2. In the Manage Toolbars dialog box, do one of the following:

    • Rename: Select a toolbar from the list, type a new name for the toolbar in the text box, and then click OK.
    • New/Copy: Select a toolbar from the list, click the copy button, rename the toolbar if required, and then click OK. If no toolbar is selected, a new toolbar is created.
    • Delete: Select a toolbar from the list, and then click the Delete button.

Work with the toolbar

View hidden tools

You can expand some tools to show tools hidden beneath them. A small triangle at the lower right of the tool icon signals the presence of hidden tools. Hold down the mouse button on the visible tool to view the tools hidden under it.

View tool options

Some tools in the toolbar have options that appear in the Properties panel. Additionally, you can also double-click a tool in the toolbar to view and change the settings for that tool.

Move the toolbar

You can move the toolbar by dragging its title bar.

View the toolbar in double-stack or single-column

Click the double-arrow on the title bar to toggle between the single-column and double-stack view of the toolbar.

Hide the toolbar

To show or hide the toolbar, do one of the following:

  • Choose Window > Tools.
  • Click the close button on the title bar.

Select a tool in the toolbar

To select a tool, do one of the following:

  • Click a tool in the toolbar. If there is a small triangle at a tool’s lower-right corner, hold down the mouse button to view the hidden tools, and then click the tool you want to select.

  • Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS), and then click a tool to cycle through and select hidden tools.

  • Press the tool’s keyboard shortcut. The keyboard shortcut is displayed in its tool tip. For example, you can select the Move tool by pressing the V key.

Tip: To hide tool tips, choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > General (macOS), and deselect Show Tool Tips.

Change tool pointers

The pointer for most tools matches the tool’s icon. Each pointer has a different hotspot, where an effect or action begins. With most tools, you can switch to precise cursors, which appear as cross hairs centered on the hotspot, and provide for greater accuracy when working with detailed artwork. Do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit Preferences General (Windows) or Illustrator Preferences General(macOS), and select Use Precise Cursors.
  • Press Caps Lock on the keyboard.

Note:

A toolbar is persistent in the workspace it is created in. If you change to another workspace and then return to the original workspace, any toolbars created are retained and reopened.

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