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The Toolbox provides an easy way to access PS’s tool set. It can usually be found on the left hand side of the screen (If you cant see it, go to Window / Tools).

You can see that they are divided into four main groups. Most of these tools you will only occasionally (if ever) use. It depends what you go on to use PS for. Others you will use all the time.

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Some of the tools have hidden ‘brother’ tools only selectable if you click and hold your mouse on their visible counterparts.

In the following sections I cover very briefly the four tool ‘families’.

Selection Tools

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Various flavors of selection tools live here. From the top: Move, Marquee Selection, Lasso Selection Quick Selection, Crop and Eyedropper. The only tool we won't use at all is the Slice Tool (a sub set of the Crop Tool) which is only useful for web work.

Bitmap editing tools

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Photoshop is a bitmap editor. These are it's (mostly) vital bitmap editing tools. From the top: the Spot Healing Brush (utterly useless) Brush, the fun and useful Clone, the History Brush (utterly useless), the Eraser and the Gradient. The last two icons contain the Blur, Sharpen, Smudge, Dodge, Burn and Sponge tools which are low-powered tool versions of things that can be found in the filters menu. Rarely useful.

Vector editing tools

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Though PS is mainly a bitmap editor it also carries a small set of vector editing tools (btw: bitmap = photos, vector = flat shapes and text). The Pen tool has a rare but interesting use for the digital painter. Its line can be stroked with any of PS's tools. This is useful for drawing perfect curves. Other tools here you can live without.

Miscellaneous tools

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Miscellaneous: mostly 3D and the Hand and Zoom tools. These navigation tools, though useful, can be easily covered by learning a few keystrokes.

The bottom of the toolbox

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At the bottom of the Toolbox there are no tools at all. There are however, a couple of really useful commands almost all of which are replaceable by simple keystrokes. First there are two squares (black and white are the default but yours might be color). These are the Foreground and Background colors and determine what colors you will be working with. You will find you often need to adjust these by clicking on them. Beneath them is the Screen Modes selector.

Tool keystroke shortcuts

All of the tools have keystroke shortcuts and you would be wise to learn at least some of them. The tool description and shortcuts are labeled in the little yellow tool tips that appear when you hover your mouse over the relevant tool.

Swap between Foreground and Background colors. X
Set Foreground and Background colors to default black and white. D
Cycle through the three screen modes. F
Enter / exit Quickmask. Q
Brush B
Eraser E
Marquee selection M
Lasso selection L
Clone S