Adobe Photoshop Tutorial – Tools Bar and List of What They Do

Adobe Photoshop offers many powerful and useful tools for you to create your next masterpiece. The toolbar is packed with these tools. In this tutorial, I will go through the different tools available on the tools bar located at the left side of the workspace. There are many of them and each of them contains more sub-options. Depending on what you’re working with, you will probably will some tools more than others, and some not at all. I will give you a list of all of them from top to bottom and briefly describe what they do so you know which tool will be useful for you. Same tools may seem obvious in what they do, but some may need some explaining. There’s quite a lot to go through, so let’s get started.


Tools with more hidden options have a tiny triangle at the bottom right of their icon. Right-click on the icon and you can see a list of options available.

Here’s how the default tools bar looks like:

Now I will go through each of the icons, their hidden options and what they do. Sometimes you’ll see a letter on the right side of the tool icon names, this is the shortcut key, depending on which tool you’ve selected in the group. The one with the small square at the left side is the currently selected tool in the group.



Move tool

This tool moves your selections/ layers around on the canvas


Artboard tool

Allows multiple canvases in one project, good for web design where you need to design multiple pages.


Rectangular Marquee tool

Rectangular selections


Elliptical Marquee tool

Elliptical selections


Single Row Marquee tool

1px row selections


Single Column Marquee tool

1px column selections



Lasso tool

Free selection


Polygonal Lasso tool

Polygonal selection


Magnetic Lasso tool

Selects the outline of a painted area/ object



Object Selection tool

Select objects using machine learning


Quick Selection tool

Select using a paintbrush


Magic Wand tool

Automatically selects areas with similar colours compared to your selection.



Crop tool

Crop the canvas


Perspective Crop tool

Combination of crop and perspective tools for editing the canvas


Slice tool

Creates slices that can be exported separately


Slice Select tool

Select slices



Frame tool

Create image place holders



Eyedropper tool

Colour picks an existing colour on the canvas as sample


3D Material Eyedropper tool

When you use 3D material in Photoshop, you can use this tool to sample the material.


Colour Sampler tool

Shows colour values of s selected colour


Ruler tool

A guide that helps you in measuring distance, angles etc on the canvas


Note tool

Allows you to add notes to your PSD files


Count tool

Mark areas with numbers



Spot Healing tool

Lets you edit imperfections such as blemishes on the face by removing them


Healing tool

Lets you edit imperfections by repairing with sample or patterns near it


Patch tool

Lets you edit imperfections in a selected area by repairing with samples or patterns


Content-Aware Move tool

A smart tool that moves content while blending it into the surroundings


Red Eye tool

Removes red reflections in the eyes from cameras.



Brush  tool

Painting tool


Pencil tool

Painting tool, but like a pencil, it’s sharper and smaller in size than brush tools


Colour Replacement tool

Replaces colour of an object to another


Mixer Brush tool

Mixes colours with a brush



Clone Stamp tool

Clones an area on the canvas and copy it to another area by painting


Pattern Stamp tool

Clones an area on the canvas and paint it as patterns



History Brush tool

Create snapshots and paint effects from different past versions


Art History Brush tool

Allows you to paint with stylised brush strokes



Eraser tool

Painting tool used to erase areas


Background Eraser tool

Erase areas to transparency


Magic Eraser tool

Erase same colours with a click



Gradient tool

Creates the gradient effect


Paint Bucket tool

Fills up selected areas with solid colours


3D Material Drop tool

Lets you sample material on the canvas and add them to other areas


Blur tool

Blurs areas on the canvas


Sharpen tool

Sharpens areas on the canvas


Smudge tool

Smudges the areas on the canvas



Dodge tool

Lightens painted areas on the canvas


Burn tool

Darkens painted areas on the canvas


Sponge tool

Changes saturation of painted areas on the canvas



Pen tool

Create smooth and tight selections with paths


Freeform Pen tool

Create paths freehand


Curvature Pen tool

Create curves easily


Add Anchor Point tool

Add an anchor point to a path


Delete Anchor Point tool

Delete an anchor point on a path


Convert Point tool

Convert an anchor point between corner and smooth points



Horizontal Type tool

Types words horizontally


Vertical Type tool

Types words vertically


Vertical Type Mask tool

Types out words as selections vertically


Horizontal Type Mask tool

Type out words as selections horizontally



Path Selection tool

Select and move paths


Direct Selection tool

Select and move anchor points




Creates a rectangle shape or outline


Rounded Rectangle tool

Creates a rounded rectangle shape or outline


Ellipse tool

Creates an ellipse shape or outline

Polygon tool

Creates a polygon shape or outline

Line tool

Create lines


Custom Shape tool

Create a custom shape



Hand tool

Lets you pan around the canvas when zoomed in


Rotate View tool

Lets you rotate the canvas



Zoom tool

Zooms in and out of the canvas



Edit Toolbar

Lets you customize your toolbar to fit your workflow better



Foreground and Background Colours

Foreground colour is used when using painting tools like brushes, pencil,  and type tools. The background colour is used when using tools like the eraser tool. You can switch them around. Also very useful when using masks



Quick Mask

Lets you quickly select areas on the canvas



Standard Screen Mode

Default mode you see when opening a project for the first time


Fullscreen Mode with Menubar

Only canvas area and the menu bar will show, other panels etc will be hidden


Fullscreen Mode

Shows only the canvas area.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful. I will be writing another tutorial on how to use each of the tools mentioned above. See all my Photoshop tutorials so far here.

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment down below. If you purchase anything from the affiliate links I’ve provided, I received a small amount of commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can keep writing tutorials like this one and other art-related posts.



A pressure-sensitive digital table is a must if you’re planning to do illustrations and paintings on Adobe Photoshop. Below are the 2 pen tablets that I’ve personally used and recommend. Having pressure sensitivity is going to give you so much more control on your lines and brushes which will, in turn, help your workflow and help you produce better results. I mainly use the Wacom Intuos which I’ve had for over 5 years. I’ve also gotten myself a Huion H420 as a backup pen tablet in case my Wacom Intuos suddenly stops working. The Huion H420 is a lot smaller but it’s still good to use and very cheap as well, great if you’re on a budget. They both have 2048 levels of sensitivity.


Wacom Intuos


Huion H420


If you are reading this tutorial you probably already have Photoshop. If you also want to try out other creative cloud software from Adobe, check out the various Adobe creative cloud subscriptions here! If you click on any of the affiliate links above, I’ll get a small commission(at no extra cost to you) that’ll help me keep writing tutorials and reviews like this one.


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