Tools Panel in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Elements provides a good number of panels for different purposes. The one that you’ll use most is the Tools panel. In panel hierarchy terms, you typically first click a tool on the Tools panel and then use another panel for additional tool options or use the Options bar for fine-tuning your tool instruments. More often than not, clicking a tool on the Tools panel is your first step in most editing operations.

By default, the Tools panel opens as a single row of tools down the left side of the Elements window. You can change the view to a double row of tools by clicking the right-pointing double chevron. Doing so shows all the tools on the panel when you’re working on smaller computer monitors.

You can easily access tools in Elements by pressing shortcut keys on your keyboard. Here is a quick glance at the Tools panel.


Notice on the Tools panel that several tools appear with a tiny arrowhead pointing right and downward in the lower-right corner of the tool. Whenever you see this arrowhead, this means that more tools are nested within that tool group.

Click a tool with an arrowhead and hold down the mouse button, or for a faster response from Elements, just right-click a tool. A fly-out toolbar opens, offering you more tool selections within that group.


To select tools within a tool group by using keystrokes, hold down the Shift key and strike the respective key to access the tool. (The Shift-L key combination is pressed here to display the Lasso pop-up menu.) Keep the Shift key down and repeatedly press the shortcut key to step through all tools in a given group.

Whether you have to press the Shift key to select tools is controlled by a preference setting. To change the default setting so that you don’t have to press Shift, choose Edit→Preferences→General or press Ctrl-K. (Choose Photoshop Elements 10→Preferences→General or press Command-K on the Macintosh.)

The shortcuts work for you at all times except when you’re typing text with the cursor active inside a text block. Be certain to click the Tools panel to select a tool when you finish editing some text.

When you click a tool on the Tools panel, the Options bar offers you choices specific to the selected tool. For example, these options are available when you select the Brush tool.