How to Reset Tools in Photoshop

Do you know how many tools there are in Photoshop? It seems like hundreds when you’re first getting started.

There are actually only 70 tools in Photoshop. But even with that many, it’s no wonder why it can sometimes be hard to find the one you want. 

I’m Cara, a photographer who likes to dabble in Photoshop and image manipulation. Today, I’m going to show you how to reset your tools to easily find the one you’re looking for.

Let’s get started!

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.

Why Do You Need to Reset Your Tools?

The tools are displayed in the toolbar to the left of the screen. Click the double arrow at the top to toggle between the two columns seen here or a single column as it appears by default. 

Obviously, it could get cluttered pretty quickly if you had all 70 tools visible.

That’s why Photoshop groups similar tools together. Notice how most of the tools have a little arrow in the bottom right corner? This indicates there are other tools hiding behind the visible one.

Right-click on any tool with an arrow and a fly-out menu will appear with the tools hiding behind it.

When you select one of the hidden tools, it replaces the default tool on top. Notice the Pencil tool is now visible on top instead of the Brush tool.

Do this a few times and your toolbar could get a little confusing, especially if you’re new to Photoshop. 

Most tutorials assume your default tools are on top. This could leave you struggling to find the tool you want if you covered it over with something else, but don’t remember which one. 

How to Reset Your Tools

The good news is you can get back to your default tools quite easily. 

Go up to the Options bar. On the far left, you’ll see an icon representing whichever tool is currently active. Right now, I have the Move tool active so you see the Move tool icon there. Right-click and select Reset All Tools.

A warning will pop up asking if you want to “Reset all tools to default settings?” Click OK

Note: to successfully reset all the tools, a default tool must be selected. The Move tool is the default for its category so this works. If a default tool is not selected, this command will reset all tools except the selected tool.

For example, I tried to reset all tools with the Magic Wand tool active. The Magic Wand tool is not the default for its category, it hides under the Quick Selection tool. Thus, the command resets all the tools except the Magic Wand. 

Reset the Paint Swatches

Another quick reset that comes in handy is resetting the paint swatches. You can do this by hitting the tiny black/white squares above the paint swatches. Or just hit D on the keyboard. 

Finding Your Missing Tools

With this quick reset, you should now be able to find the tool you need. Happy photoshopping and be sure to check out more of our quick tips and tutorials like how to change keyboard shortcuts!

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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