Are you looking to be a faster Photoshop User?  There are several different ways to get to the tools you need inside Photoshop.

  • You can click the tool icon.
  • To access nested tools (those that share the same well), click and hold the mouse button on the tool icon.


  • You can also hold down the Option (Alt) key and click an individual tool in the Tools panel to cycle tools.
  • You can press the letter shortcut key. Hovering over a tool’s icon will teach you the shortcut keys when the tool tip pops up.
    • Move Tool (V)
    • Rectangular Marquee and Elliptical Marquee Tools (M)
    • Lasso, Polygonal Lasso, and Magnetic Lasso Tools (L)
    • Quick Selection Tool and Magic Wand Tools (W )
    • Crop, Perspective Crop, Slice, Slice Select Tools (C)
    • Eyedropper, Color Sampler, Ruler, Note, and Count Tools (I)
    • Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Patch, Content Aware Move, and Red Eye Tools (J)
    • Brush, Pencil, Color Replacement, and Mixer Brush Tools (B)
    • Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp Tools (S)
    • History Brush and Art History Brush Tools (Y)
    • Eraser, Background Eraser, Magic Eraser Tools (E)
    • Gradient and Paint Bucket Tools (G)
    • Dodge, Burn, and Sponge Tools (O)
    • Pen and Freeform Pen Tools (P)
    • Horizontal Type, Vertical Type, Horizontal Type Mask, and Vertical Type Mask Tools (T)
    • Path Selection and Direct Selection Tools (A)
    • Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line, and Custom Shape Tools (U)
    • Hand Tool (H)
    • Rotate View Tool (R)
    • Zoom Tool (Z)
  • To switch to a nested tool, hold down the Shift key and press the tool’s shortcut key.


  • If the Shift key is an extra step you’d rather not use, modify your user preferences. Press Command+K (Ctrl+K) to call up your General Preferences screen. Deselect the check box next to Use Shift Key for Tool Switch.

I hope these simple tips make you a bit faster in Photoshop. I’ll be teaching at Photoshop World if you want to catch up and go deeper.

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] Original post: A Faster Tools Panel in Photoshop | Photofocus […]

  2. Thank you! The tip about holding down the shift key while pressing a tool’s shortcut key to cycle through the nested tools is a real time saver. I came from using Elements and in that world you just press the shortcut key multiple times by itself. I found that that didn’t work in Photoshop, but didn’t know that the shift key enabled that behavior. You’ve just brightened my day and sped up my work!

  3. I tried turning off the Shift modifier for rotating through the tools, but I’d always get twisted and waste more time, because I’d hit, e.g., J, when I already had Healing selected, and it’d move to the next version of the tool. Requiring the Shift modifier keeps me in line and keeps me using the Healing Brush instead of accidentally moving to the Patch tool….


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Adobe, Software, Technique & Tutorials