How to Get the Toolbar Back in Photoshop

It gets cumbersome clicking around in Photoshop, which makes shortcut keys a lifesaver. Unfortunately, it’s also common to hit the wrong key and something happens that you didn’t expect. 

For example, your toolbar disappears. 

Hey! I’m Cara and when I was first fumbling around in Photoshop, this happened to me. Never fear because it is easy to learn how to get your toolbar back in Photoshop. Read on to find out!

Note: the screenshots below are taken from the Windows version of Photoshop CC. If you are using the Mac version, they will look slightly different.

The Magic Tab Key

Let’s start with the easy stuff. What if you hit something and the toolbar and every other panel disappear like in this screenshot?

Don’t panic, simply hit the Tab key and it will all reappear like magic!

The F Key

What if everything disappears? What if you’re literally looking at only the image and a black screen around it like in this screenshot?

This happens when you hit the F key. You have to hit it twice to get here so it’s less likely you’ll get here by chance, but it can happen. 

This screen is called a shadowbox, btw. It allows you to see your images by themselves without anything distracting around the edge. It can be quite helpful.

To get back to the workspace, simply hit F again. 

The Window Menu

What if you need a specific panel that has disappeared? You can find all the panels in Photoshop by going to Window in the menu bar. 

Notice that all the panel names appear here. The ones with the checkmarks are active right now and the others are hidden. Simply click on the panel you want to appear. 

For example, say that the toolbar that is usually at the left of your screen is gone. Simply click on Tools at the bottom of the Window menu. 

Also, note that a few of the panels, such as the layers and color panels, have keyboard shortcuts. These can be handy if you can remember them. 

Make Individual Tools Reappear

Photoshop allows you to customize the toolbox. This is handy but also means that tools can disappear from the toolbar. To get them back go to Edit in the menu bar then go all the way down to the bottom and click Toolbar.

A panel opens that allows you to customize the toolbar. Drag any little-used tools to the Extra Tools space. You’ll still be able to access them from a drop-down menu at the bottom of the toolbar. 

Conversely, a tool that you want may have ended up in the extra tools space. This is why it has disappeared from the toolbar. All you have to do is drag it back to the Toolbar space on the left.

Reset the Default

What if you don’t know the name of the panel you need? It was always there before but you hit something and made it disappear. 

If that’s the case, it’s likely one of the panels that appear in the default setting of Photoshop. To make it reappear, go to Window, hover over Workspace, and click either Essentials (Default) or Reset Essentials

Make a note of which panels in the Window menu have the checkmark. From that, you can figure out the name of the panel you wanted for future reference.

Customize Your Workspace

You can also customize your workspace so the toolbars you use most often are always active. Photoshop already has a handful of presets available. 

In the same Workspace menu where we reset the essentials, there are a few options:

  • 3D
  • Graphic and Web
  • Motion
  • Painting
  • Photography

You can choose these based on how you typically use Photoshop. 

Lock Your Workspace

What if you keep losing the toolbars that you want? This might be due to a sticky mouse or inaccurate fingers when using keyboard shortcuts. Regardless, it can get annoying quickly if you keep making your toolbars disappear. 

To make them stay in place, you can lock your workspace. Go to Window > Workspace, and choose Lock Workspace.

To make changes to your workspace, you’ll have to follow the same steps to go back and unlock it. 

Navigating Photoshop Like a Pro

There’s a lot to learn about Photoshop to keep up with it. However, you always need the right tools at your fingertips and now you know how to find them.

Have fun and check out more of our tutorials like how to add brushes in Photoshop!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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