Photoshop Elements provides you a toolbox in Quick and Expert modes to help you work on your photos. You can use the tools in the toolbox to select, enhance, draw, and view images.

Toolbox in the Quick mode

The toolbox in the Quick mode contains a small set of easy-to-use tools. The tools available in this mode are Zoom, Hand, Quick Selection, Red Eye Removal, Whiten Teeth, Straighten, Type, Spot Healing Brush, Crop, and Move.

Quick mode Toolbox
Quick mode toolbox

A. Zoom tool B. Hand tool C. Quick Selection tool D. Red Eye Removal tool E. Whiten Teeth tool F. Straighten tool G. Type tool H. Spot Healing Brush tool I. Crop tool J. Move tool 

Toolbox in the Expert mode

In the Expert mode, the toolbox is richer than the toolbox in the Quick mode. The tools are organized in the following logical groups:

  • View
  • Select
  • Enhance
  • Draw
  • Modify
Expert mode Toolbox
Expert mode toolbox

A. View tools B. Select tools C. Enhance tools D. Draw tools E. Modify tools 

Tools in the View group of the Expert mode toolbox

Zoom tool (Z)

Zooms in or zooms out your image. The related tools shown in the Tool Options bar are Zoom In and Zoom Out. For more information about the Zoom tool, see Zoom in or out.

Hand tool (H)

Moves your photo in the Photoshop Elements workspace. You can drag your image using this tool. For more information, see Viewing images in Expert or Quick modes

Tools in the Select group of the Expert mode toolbox

Move tool (V)

Moves selections or layers. For more information, see Move a selection.

Rectangular Marquee tool (M)

Selects an area in your image in a rectangular box. Hold the Shift key to make the selection a square.

Elliptical Marquee tool (M)

Selects an area in your image in an elliptical shape. Hold the Shift key to make the selection a circle.

Lasso tool (L)

Selects an area in your image in a free-form shape. 

Magnetic Lasso tool (L)

Selects part of an image by selecting the high-contrast edges around a shape.

Polygonal Lasso tool (L)

Draws straight-edged segments of a selection border.

Quick Selection tool (A)

Makes a selection based on color and texture similarity when you click or click-drag the area you want to select. 

Selection Brush tool (A)

Selects the area where you paint with the brush.

Magic Wand tool (A)

Selects the pixels with similar colors in a single click.

Refine Selection Brush tool (A)

Adds or removes areas to and from a selection by automatically detecting the edges. For more information on this tool, see Edit and refine selections

For more information on selection, see Use tools to make selections.

Tools in the Enhance group of the Expert mode toolbox

Red Eye Removal tool (Y)

Removes the red eye effect from your photos. For more information about the tool, see Precisely remove red eye.

Spot Healing Brush tool (J)

Removes spots from your photos. For more information about this tool, see Remove spots and unwanted objects

Healing Brush tool (J)

Removes spots from your photo by selecting a part of your photo as the reference point.

Smart Brush tool (F)

Applies tonal and color adjustments to specific areas of a photo.

Detail Smart Brush tool (F)

Paints the adjustment to specific areas of a photo just like a painting tool.

For more information about Smart brushes, see Adjust color and tonality using the Smart Brush tools and Apply the Smart Brush tools.

Clone Stamp tool (S)

Paints with an image sample, which you can use to duplicate objects, remove image imperfections, or paint over objects in your photo. You can also clone part of an image to another image. For more information, see Clone images or areas in an image.

Pattern Stamp tool (S)

Paints with a pattern defined from your image, another image, or a preset pattern. For more information, see Use the Pattern Stamp tool.

Blur tool (R)

Softens hard edges or areas in an image by reducing details. For more information, see Blur or soften edges

Sharpen tool (R)

Sharpens a photo by focusing soft edges in the photo to increase clarity or focus. For more information on sharpening, see Sharpen an image.

Smudge tool (R)

Simulates the actions of dragging a finger through wet paint. The tool picks up color where the stroke begins and pushes it in the direction you drag. For more information on the tool, see Use the Smudge tool.

Sponge tool (O)

Changes the color saturation of an area. For more information on how to use the tool, see Adjust saturation in isolated areas.

Dodge tool (O)

Lightens areas of an image. You can use the tool to bring out details in shadows. For more information on the Dodge tool, see Quickly lighten or darken isolated areas.

Burn tool (O)

Darkens areas of the image. You can use the tool to bring out details in highlights. For more information on the Burn tool, see Quickly lighten or darken isolated areas.

Tools in the Draw group of the Expert mode toolbox

Brush tool (B)

Creates soft or hard strokes of color. You can use it to simulate airbrush techniques. For more information about the tool, see Use the Brush tool

Impressionist Brush tool (B)

Changes the existing colors and details in your image so your photo looks like it was painted using stylized brush strokes. For more information about the tool, see Use the Impressionist Brush tool.

Color Replacement tool (B)

Simplifies replacing specific colors in your image. For more information about the tool, see Replace color in an image.

Eraser tool (E)

Erases the pixels in the image as you drag through them. For more information about the tool, see Use the Eraser Tool.

Background Eraser tool (E)

Turns color pixels to transparent pixels so that you can easily remove an object from its background. For more information about the tool, see Use the Background Eraser tool.

Magic Eraser tool (E)

Changes all similar pixels when you drag within a photo. For more information, see Use the Magic Eraser tool.

Paint Bucket tool (K)

Fills an area that is similar in color value to the pixels you click. For more information about the tool, see Use the Paint Bucket tool

Pattern tool (K)

Applies a fill or a pattern to your image, instead of using one of the brush tools. For more information, see Fill a layer with a color or pattern.

Gradient tool (G)

Fills in an area of image by a gradient. For more information, see Apply a gradient.

Color Picker tool (I)

Copies or samples the color of an area in your photo to set a new foreground or background color. For more information about the tool, see Choose a color with the Eyedropper tool.

Custom Shape tool (U)

Provides different shape options for you to draw. When you select the Custom Shape tool, you can access these shapes in the Tool Options bar. 

The other shape-related tools available in the Tool Options bar are:

  • Rectangle
  • Rounded Rectangle
  • Ellipse
  • Polygon
  • Star
  • Line
  • Selection

For more information about creating shapes, see Create shapes.

Type tool (T)

Creates and edits text on your image.

The other type-related tools available in the Tool Options bar are:

  • Vertical Type 
  • Horizontal Type Mask  
  • Vertical Type Mask 
  • Text on Selection 
  • Text on Shape 
  • Text on Custom Path

For more information about adding and editing text on your image, see Add text.

Pencil tool (N)

Creates hard-edged freehand lines. For more information, see Use the Pencil tool.

Tools in the Modify group of the Expert mode toolbox

Crop tool (C)

Trims the part of an image according to the selection. For more information about the tool, see Crop an image.

Cookie Cutter tool (C)

Crops a photo into a shape that you choose. For more information about the tool, see Use the Cookie Cutter tool.

Perspective Crop tool (C)

Transforms the perspective of a picture while cropping it. For more information about the tool, see Perspective Crop tool.

Recompose tool (W)

Intelligently resizes photos without changing important visual content, such as people, building, animals, and more. For more information, see Recompose a photo in Expert mode. For a step-by-step, guided method to recompose, see Recompose a photo in Guided mode.

Content-Aware Move tool (Q)

Selects an object in your photo and moves the selection to a different location, or extends it. For more information about the tool, see Move and reposition objects.

Straighten tool (P)

Realigns an image vertically or horizontally. For more information about the tool, see Straighten an image.

Use a tool

To use a tool in the Quick or Expert mode, first select the tool from the toolbox. Next, use the various options in the Tool Options bar to accomplish your task.  

Select a tool

Do one of the following:

  • Click a tool in the toolbox.
  • Press the keyboard shortcut for the tool. For example, press B to select the Brush tool. The keyboard shortcut for a tool is displayed in the tool tip. You can also find a list of helpful keyboard shortcuts in Keys for selecting tools.

Note:

You cannot deselect a tool—once you select a tool, it remains selected until you select a different tool. For example, if you’ve selected the Lasso tool, and you want to click your image without selecting anything, select the Hand tool.

Select options from the Tool Options bar

The Tool Options bar appears at the bottom in the Photoshop Elements window. It displays the options for a selected tool. For example, if you select the Crop tool from the toolbox, you find related tools (Cookie Cutter tool and Perspective Crop tool), and other options in the Tool Options bar.

Click here to watch a video on how to use the Crop tool. The video explains the options available in the Tool Options bar for the Crop tool.

Note:

If the Tool Options bar is not visible, click the tool icon in the toolbox or click Tool Options in the Taskbar. 

Tool Options bar
Tool Options bar for the Lasso tool

A. Active tool icon B. Related tools C. Additional options 

Edit tool preferences

You can modify the default preferences for tools. For example, you can hide the tool tips or change the appearance of a tool pointer.

Edit General preferences

  1. Do one of the following:

    • In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > General.
    • In Mac, choose Photoshop Elements > Preferences > General.
  2. Set one or more of the following options:
    • Select Show Tool Tips to show tool tips.
    • Select Use Shift Key for Tool Switch to cycle through a set of hidden tools by holding down the Shift key. When this option is deselected, you can cycle through a set of tool options by pressing the keyboard shortcut (without holding down Shift). For example, pressing B on your keyboard repeatedly cycles through all the Brush tool options (Brush, Impressionist Brush, and Color Replacement tools).
    • Select Select Move tool After Committing Text to select the Move tool after you use the Type tool to add text to your photo.
  3. Click OK.

Set the appearance of a tool pointer

  1. Do one of the following:

    • In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > Display & Cursors.
    • In Mac, choose Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Display & Cursors.
  2. Select a setting for the painting cursors:

    • Standard Displays pointers as tool icons
    • Precise Displays pointers as cross-hairs
    • Normal Brush Tip Displays pointers as circles at 50% of the size you specify for the brush
    • Full Size Brush Tip Displays pointers as circles at the full size you specify for the brush
    • Show Crosshair In Brush Tip Displays cross-hairs in the circles when you choose either Normal Brush Tip or Full Size Brush Tip
  3. Select a setting for other cursors:

    • Standard Displays pointers as tool icons
    • Precise Displays pointers as cross-hairs
  4. Click OK.

Resize or change the hardness of painting cursors by dragging (Windows only)

You can resize or change the hardness of a painting cursor by dragging in the image. As you drag, you preview both the size and hardness of the painting tool.

  • To resize a cursor, right-click + press Alt, and drag to the left or right.

  • To change the hardness of a cursor, right-click + press Alt, and drag up or down.

Reset tool settings to default

You can restore the default settings of a selected tool or all tools.

  1. Select a tool from the toolbox.

    Alternatively, press keyboard shortcut for the tool. 

  2. Click  to open the pop-up menu in the Tool Options bar and do one of the following:

    • To reset the selected tool, click Reset Tool.
    • To reset all the tools, click Rest All Tools.

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