Basic Photoshop Troubleshooting Errors

  • No Toolbox?
  • Check TAB key. TAB toggles the toolbox and palettes on & off. Shift-Tab will hide all the palettes except for the Toolbox. Look also here.

    Funny looking cursor or can't see it?
  • Caps lock ON shows all tool's cursors as cross-hairs.
  • Use Preferences > General to set the cursors to the style you prefer (brush size, cross hairs, etc.).
  • Read more on this type of troubleshooting here and here.

    Tools Don't Seem to do Anything?
  • Are you working outside of an active selection? Check the Select Menu to see if selection outlines are hidden. Choose Select > Deselect.
  • Check to see if your tool mode set to "lighten" or "darken"? If you try to paint dark values overlighter values while the "lighten" option is selected, nothing will happen.
  • Check if the opacity is set so low so that the tool effect is not seen on the screen?
  • Check your Mode menu ( Image > Mode ). Many tools and commands only work in RGB or Grayscale.
  • Press the Escape key on your keyboard to cancel any operations you may be in the middle of, such as the action you did before the tools stopped working. Look for Transform or Crop operation ( a checkmark will be showing in the Options bar to allow you to justify the operation or click the circle with the slash through it to cancel). Check also for a file saving box or dialog box that may need you to click Cancel or OK.
  • Make sure you are on the right layer. You may be painting on a layer that is below another layer, thus hiding the effects. If need, in the Layers palette, click down and hold on the layer and drag it above the other layer and release.
  • If all the above fails, go to the Window>Channels to access the Channels Palette and make sure all three (RGB) channels are highlighted. If only one channel is highlighted, clicck on RGB to highlight it and try painting again.
  • Reset all your tools. While in a brush tool, look at the far left in the Options bar and click and hold on the visible tool icon. Note that in the dialog box that just opened is also a small round button with a right arrow in it at the far top right. Click and hold on this pop up button and another window is revealed. Look about a third of the way down and you'll see Rest All Tools. Highlight it and then release the mouse. When asked if you're sure about this - say yes.
  • If all of the above fails, then restore all preferences to default settings
    • Press and hold Alt+Control+Shift (Windows) or Option+Command+Shift (Mac OS) as you start Photoshop. You are prompted to delete the current settings.
    • New Preferences files are created the next time you start Photoshop.

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