When you start Illustrator, the Tools panel appears at the left of the screen. You use tools in the Tools panel to create, select, and manipulate objects in Illustrator. Some tools have options that appear when you double-click a tool. These include tools that let you select, type, paint, draw, sample, edit, and move images. To see the name of a tool, hover the pointer over it.
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.
Some tools in the Tools panel have options that appear in the context-sensitive options bar. Additionally, you can also double-click a tool in the Tools panel to view and change the settings for that tool.
Click the double-arrow on the title bar to toggle between the double-stack and single-column view of the Tools panel.
Click the icons at the bottom of the Tools panel 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 Tools panel and choosing the desired screen mode.
If you work with only a specific set of tools, you can create a customized tools panel that contains only those tools.
Click Window > Tools > New Tools Panel, and then provide a name and click OK.
A new Tools panel is created and displayed.
A Fill/Stroke proxy is added by default. This cannot be removed from the custom tools panel.
Drag a tool from an existing tools panel into a new or existing custom tools panel. If the tool is part of a group of tools, then the topmost tool is copied. Release the mouse when the cursor appears with a plus sign ().
Dragging and dropping a tool when the cursor appears with a cancel operation sign () performs no addition or deletion of tools.
To get a tool that does not appear as the top-most tool in a group, do one of the following:
- Press Alt/ Option and click the tool group. This action cycles through all the tools present in the tool group.
- When the tool that you want appears at the top of the group, drag it to the custom tools panel. Release the mouse when the cursor appears with a plus sign ().
- Drag the tool group into an empty portion of the workspace, to view it as a toolstrip.
- From the toolstrip, drag a tool to the new tools panel. Release the mouse when the cursor appears with a plus sign ().
A custom tools panel is persistent in the workspace it is created in. If you change to another workspace and then return to the original workspace, any tools panels created are retained and reopened.
In the Manage Tools Panel dialog, do one of the following:
- Rename: Select a tools panel from the list, type a new name for the panel in the text box, and then click OK.
- New/Copy: Select a tools panel from the list, click the copy button, rename the tools panel if required, and then click OK. If no tools panel is selected, a new tools panel is created.
- Delete: Select a tools panel from the list, and then click the Delete button.
Click a tool in the Tools panel. 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.
A. Tools panel B. Active tool C. Tear off panel with hidden tools D. Hidden tool triangle E. Tool name and shortcut
Tip: To hide tool tips, choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > General (macOS), and deselect Show Tool Tips.
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.