Written by Steve Patterson. In this tutorial, we'll learn how to quickly reset the Tools panel in Photoshop CC back to its default tool layout. This handy feature was first added in Photoshop CC 2014 but because it didn't receive a lot of attention, many people are still unaware of it. To use it, and to follow along with this tutorial, you'll need to be running Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and you'll want to make sure that your copy is up to date.
The Tools panel (also known as the Toolbar or the Toolbox) is where Photoshop stores all of its various tools, from selection tools to editing tools, type tools, shape tools, navigation tools, and many more. There's so many tools, in fact, that not all of them can be displayed in the Tools panel at once. Many of Photoshop's tools are hidden behind other tools.
For example, Photoshop includes four basic, geometric selection tools—the Rectangular Marquee Tool, the Elliptical Marquee Tool, the Single Row Marquee Tool, and the Single Column Marquee Tool. To save space, all four of these tools are nested together in the same tool slot in the Tools panel. By default, the Rectangular Marquee Tool is the one that's visible; it's the primary tool for the group:
To get to one of the other tools that are hiding behind it in that same slot, we need to right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Rectangular Marquee Tool and then select the tool we need from the fly-out menu that appears. I'll choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool, just to pick something different:
Notice, though, that after choosing a different tool (in this case, the Elliptical Marquee Tool), the new tool has become the tool that's displayed in that slot. Photoshop always displays the last tool that was selected, which means you won't always see the default tool. If I needed to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee Tool at this point, I would need to right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Elliptical Marquee Tool and then choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the fly-out menu:
The same is true for Photoshop's freeform selection tools— the Lasso Tool, the Polygonal Lasso Tool and the Magnetic Lasso Tool—found in the slot directly below the geometric shape tools. By default, the Lasso Tool is the tool that's visible. To get to the others, we need to right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Lasso Tool and then choose a different tool from the fly-out menu. I'll choose the Polygonal Lasso Tool:
After selecting the new tool, we see that the Polygonal Lasso Tool has replaced the standard Lasso Tool as the visible tool in that slot. Again, it's because Photoshop always displays the last tool that was selected. In fact, we now have two slots in the Tools panel where a tool other than the default, primary tool is now visible:
We won't go through every tool slot in the Tools panel, but I'll quickly change a few more of them. I'll right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Quick Selection Tool and choose the Magic Wand Tool from the fly-out menu:
Lastly, I'll right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Eyedropper Tool and I'll choose Photoshop's Ruler Tool from the fly-out menu:
After switching to these other tools, we see that my Tools panel is becoming cluttered with tools other than the defaults. It's not a huge problem, but it can make things confusing as you're learning Photoshop (especially if you're trying to follow along with tutorials that ask you to select default tools), and it can generally be a nuisance as you're working:
Luckily, in Photoshop CC, we now have a way to quickly reset the Tools panel back to its default layout, and we do it using a command that's actually been around in Photoshop for a long time. Adobe has simply improved it by adding to its capabilities.
Before we look at it, though, there's one important thing we need to do. In order for this to work, we first need to select a tool slot where the default tool is still visible. In my case (and most likely yours, too), the slot at the very top of the Tools panel is still showing the Move Tool which is the default tool for that group, so I'll select it by clicking on it. I could also select the Move Tool by pressing the letter V on my keyboard. It doesn't necessarily need to be the Move Tool that you select. You can select any slot as long as it's still showing the default tool:
With a default tool selected, if you look up in the Options Bar along the top of the screen, you'll find the Tool Presets option over on the far left. Its icon will display whichever tool you've selected (in my case, it's the Move Tool):
To reset your Tools panel back to its default layout, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Tool Presets icon, then choose Reset All Tools from the menu:
As I mentioned, the Reset All Tools command has been around in Photoshop for a long time. In previous versions of Photoshop, choosing Reset All Tools would reset all of your tools back to their default settings, clearing away any custom settings you may have set for them in the Options Bar. What it wouldn't do, though, is reset the Tools panel itself back to its default layout. If you wanted to restore the default tools, you would need to manually reset each tool slot yourself by right-clicking (Win) / Control-clicking (Mac) on it and choosing its default tool.
In Photoshop CC, we no longer need to do that. The Reset All Tools command still resets the tools back to their default settings in the Options Bar, but now, it also resets each tool slot in the Tools panel back to its default, primary tool. I'll go ahead and click Reset All Tools. Photoshop will ask if you want to restore the default settings. Click OK:
And just like that, my Tools panel is back to its default layout:
And there we have it! That's how to instantly reset your Tools panel back to its default layout using the recently-improved Reset All Tools command in Photoshop CC! And don't forget, Photoshop CC also lets you create your own fully-customized Toolbar layout! Looking for more Photoshop tips? Download our tutorials as print-ready PDFs and get our member-exclusive 101 Photoshop Tips & Tricks PDF!