Photoshop: How To Use The Tools In Photoshop CC 2020

The tools in Photoshop CC 2020 provide a variety of ways to perform your edit work process.

We cover the tools used in Photoshop in detail in our Photoshop training courses.

This article explores each tool and how to use them.

We have also written detailed articles on using the object selection tools and using the content-aware fill tool in Photoshop.

The Toolbar

The Photoshop Toolbar can be configured depending on how you do your work. You can display the tools in one long pane:

The Photoshop tool bar in a single column

Or you can display the Toolbar as a double panel:

The Photoshop tool bar configured as a double column

And if that were not enough, you can drag the Toolbar and have it “float” anywhere on your “canvas”.

The Photoshop toolbar configured to float.


Photoshop has many useful keyboard shortcuts. In this case, instead of right-clicking on the tool, you can press “W” and then “Shift-W” to toggle between two tools.

Toggling Between Two Tools

When you select a tool, a video displays next to the tool to show how it works. It’s a good way to let you know that you have the desired tool.

The helpful video that Photoshop shows for tools

From the Edit menu, you can select the Tools… option. The Customize Toolbar window lets you customize the toolbar to fit the way you do your work.

These are the most commonly used Photoshop tools:

  • Move Tool
  • Marquee Tools
  • Lasso Tools
  • Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool
  • Crop Tool
  • Eyedropper Tool
  • Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool
  • Clone Stamp Tool
  • History Brush Tool
  • Eraser Tool/Background Eraser Tool/Magic Eraser Tool
  • Zoom Tool

The Move Tool

Selecting The Move Tool

The Move Tool is used to move part of a layered image to a new location. You need to be aware that this tool only works when there is something to move inside the image. In other words, you need at least two layers to use the Move Tool. Or a single layer that is not locked.

In the image below, the daisy is in its own layer.

A Picture Of A Daisy

Select the daisy and select the Move Tool and drag the object to another location in the image.

Using Photoshop's Move Tool

The Marquee Tools

The Marquee Tools Menu

There are several marquee tools that you can use to select a part of an image.

NOTE: Hold the SHIFT key to add to the selected area, and hold the Option/Alt to subtract from the selected area. As you might expect, the Rectangular Tool makes a rectangular selection, and the Elliptical Tool makes a round selection.

Here is an example of using the Rectangular Tool:

Using The Rectangular Marquee Too.

The Lasso Tools

The Lasso Tools Menu

You can also make selections using the lasso tools. The Lasso Tool lets you make a selection around anything on a layer just like you would if using a real lasso.

The Polygonal Lasso Tool also lets you select an area, but only by making straight lines.

The Magnetic Lasso Tool allows you to select an object by trying to find the edge of the object and assigning anchor points like you are using a magnet to attract the points.

Here is an example of using the Lasso Tool:

Using The Lasso Tool


The Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool

The Quick Selection Tool Menu

The Quick Selection Tool allows you to select objects by concentrating on the edges. Just drag the tool over the object to select it. The Magic Wand Tool makes a selection based on the part of the object where you click your mouse.

Here is an example of the Magic Wand Tool:

The Magic Wand Tool In Use


The Crop Tool

Selecting The Crop Tool in Photoshop

The Crop Tool allows you to crop an image just by dragging the markers on the image border.

Here is an example of the Crop Tool:

Using The Crop Tool

The Eyedropper Tool

The Eyedropper Tool

The Eyedropper Tool lets you click on a colour in the image in order to use it in other areas of an image or in another image entirely. The Color Sampler Tool allows you to sample up to four different colours in an image

Here is an example of the Color Sampler Tool. The selected area can be seen on the basketball:

Using The Eyedropper Tool

The Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool

Menu Of Image Touch Up Tools

The Spot Healing Brush lets you remove imperfections. It looks at the area around where you click the mouse in order to blend the imperfection into the image.

The Healing Brush Tool also lets you eliminate imperfections in an image. You have to select a point on the image, unlike the Spot Healing brush.

The Patch Tool lets you make a selection as the Lasso Tool does. You can drag the selection to the area in order to fill it with the selection.

The Content-Aware Move Tool looks at any content selected to be moved and tries to fill in the area from which the selected content has been moved. For example, if you move a window from a house in an image, Photoshop will try to fill in the empty area with content from the rest of the house, as the window had never been there.

The Red Eye Tool is a way to quickly remove areas that have red eye from improper flash lighting.

Before and after example of the Spot Healing Tool:

Before and After using the spot healing tool in Photoshop

The Brush Tool

The Brush Tool Menu

The Brush Tool is a very important tool; you’ll probably use the Brush Tool the most if you are retouching images. The Pencil Tool lets you draw on an image as if you were using a real pencil. The Brush Tool using the colour selected by the Eyedropper Tool. In the example below, a yellow panel of the balloon was selected and used as a brush.

The Clone Stamp Tool

The Stamp Tools Menu

The Clone Stamp Tool is used to clone or copy image information from one area to another. You can hold the Option/Alt key and click an area of an image. Then, click the image to brush with the color and image information that you sampled.

Before and after example of the Clone Stamp Tool:

Notice how the number of beans has multiplied!

Before And After Images When Using The Clone Stamp Tool

The After Image When Using The Clone Stamp Tool

The History Brush Tool

The History Brush Tool In Photoshop

This tool is like an Undo feature. You can use it to step back until you return to the desired change.

Here is an example of using the History Brush Tool from the previous tool:

The Histroy Brush Tool In Use

The Eraser Tool/Background Eraser Tool/Magic Eraser Tool

The Eraser Tool Menu

The Eraser Tool removes undesired detail just like a real eraser.

The Background Eraser Tool lets you remove the background from an image. Drag the eraser along the edges of an image and its background in order for it to remove the background.

The Magic Eraser Tool can remove part of the background of an image depending on the area you select.

Before and after example of the Eraser Tool:

Image Before The Eraser Tool Is Used

The text has been erased.

Image After The Use Of The Eraser In Photoshop CC

The Zoom Tool

The Zoom Tool

The Zoom Tool is used to magnify a portion of your image when you are doing detailed work. Click and drag a selection of an image and Photoshop will zoom in on that area.

Before and after example of the Zoom Tool:

Image Before The Use Of The Zoom Tool


After Using The Zoom Tool


This has been a description of the more commonly used tools in Adobe Photoshop CC 2020. Open up your Photoshop canvas and see how these tools can help you edit your favourite images.