Tip of the Day

The Reappearing/Disappearing Brush Tip

This one gets more people because it’s a feature that acts like a bug. Has this ever happened to you? You’re working in Photoshop, you’re using the Brush tool (B), and everything seems fine. But a little later in your session, you get the Brush tool again, and it no longer displays the size of the currently selected brush tip. Instead, it displays a little crosshair cursor. So you go to the Preferences menu and choose Display & Cursors, and sure enough, you’ve got Normal Brush Tip chosen as your preference, but for some strange reason, it’s not showing your brush size; it’s showing that stupid crosshair. Here’s the problem: Check your Caps Lock key. It’s turned on, and turning it on changes your Brush cursor from displaying brush size to displaying the crosshair. This is actually a feature to be used when you need to see the precise center of your brush. The problem is it’s assigned to the Caps Lock key, so every time you turn on Caps Lock when you’re working with type, you just temporarily switched your Brush cursor (or any cursor for that matter). Does Adobe need to find a better key for this feature/bug? You betcha! Will it happen? Not as far as I know.

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282 comments

  1. Rachel 3 June, 2008 at 13:36 Reply

    Thanks so much. I have opened and closed photoshop 6 times now, and I couldn’t figure out why it was doing that. You are a genius!

  2. Jake 1 July, 2008 at 20:50 Reply

    Thanks so much this has puzzled me for months now. The Caps Lock key is too close to the shift key which I often use so I think Adobe should change it to something else. But at least now I know the cause of the problem so it shouldn’t really matter.

    Cheers.

  3. Neil 3 December, 2009 at 15:49 Reply

    Thank you so so much. Every time this crosshair thing has happened – and its been happening for long time – its driven me nuts opening and closing the programme, looking here there and everywhere trying to figure out why it has happened. Thank you!

  4. Ueki 2 March, 2010 at 13:52 Reply

    Thanks mate, I had this but no longer have it, but I have been wondering what was that , xD

    thanks agian ^^

  5. Sebastien 19 May, 2011 at 20:18 Reply

    I kept rebooting thinking it was a video card or driver problem. That was driving me nuts! Thanks buddy!

  6. Brett Gilmour 17 August, 2011 at 18:37 Reply

    Thanks for solving this 13 year mystery. I’ve spent hours trying to fix this bug over the last decade. Adobe support has never figured it out when I’ve called them.

    So happy you posted this, thank you.

    Brett Gilmour

  7. Dez 9 August, 2012 at 05:11 Reply

    i wish it WAS the caps lock! I even wish it was the cursor settings! Absolutely nothing i try gets rid of this silly 3-piece cursor that i can hardly see let alone guide to click onto what i want it to! I want my normal every-day arrow pointer back!!!! =(

    • Jan Fortier 13 July, 2014 at 01:16 Reply

      Funny… I never had this problem until today. I found that all of my PSE preferences had reset themselves to the defaults. AND I don’t have a cursor for my brushes EXCEPT WHEN THE CAPSLOCK IS ON!! It’s quite bizarre.

  8. Tony B 20 May, 2016 at 00:35 Reply

    oh my god.

    I can’t believe how easy that was. I feel like such an idiot. I’ve been dealing with
    that for years and just did it w/o the outline whenever it stopped working… when I
    hit the caps lock.

    Thanks a lot!

  9. Teddy Teddy 23 May, 2016 at 12:39 Reply

    You are just too much. It was really getting crazy in here. I really appreciate you so much. Thanks.

  10. RG 1 June, 2016 at 11:24 Reply

    So close to freaking out, scouring preferences throughout the application – GREAT tip, you saved me from going bonkers!

  11. paradeofzombies 5 June, 2016 at 14:37 Reply

    WOOOWWW thats the problem!!?? Lol easy fix, but damnit this has been bothering me FOREVER! thanks!

  12. Amanda 13 June, 2016 at 23:22 Reply

    OMG. I thought this was a Photoshop bug for about a decade. I could never find rhyme or reason to it and was baffled they never fixed it. Thank goodness for this post.

  13. Davin Risy Al Hanif 15 June, 2016 at 03:32 Reply

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Finally i don’t need to reintall my photoshop 😀

  14. Paul 26 June, 2016 at 01:43 Reply

    Many, Many Thanks. I’ve been using photoshop off and on for 15 years and never had this happen until today.

  15. Miguel Angelo Rozsas 10 July, 2016 at 11:21 Reply

    Ohhhh my !

    You can´t imagine how many times I rebooted my computer just to “fix” this !

    thanks !

  16. Partho Chakraborty 8 August, 2016 at 04:01 Reply

    Ha ha ha.

    How stupid i’m ……!
    but why this feature is there, is there any use of it….
    Thanks man.

  17. John Harrison 14 August, 2016 at 13:55 Reply

    Thanks for posting this!! I restarted my computer, restarted Photoshop, and couldn’t figure it out! Something so simple and the wonders of a Google search! Thanks for posting!

  18. Kon Iatrou 15 August, 2016 at 20:52 Reply

    OMG!!! I kept closing and opening the app then rebooting thinking there’s a dam bug with PS. Such a stupid idea to assign it to the CAPS LOCK key! It should be a fn + num key code or some two keys you have to press at the same time t activate/deactivate the feature. THANK YOU THANK YOU THNAK YOU. You’ve saved me heaps of frustration and swearing at PS 😀

  19. Indrajit Chowdhury 19 August, 2016 at 01:30 Reply

    thank very much. this have been bothering me for a while. i even thought of getting a new copy of the application. Thanks

  20. meghan 30 August, 2016 at 00:02 Reply

    bless your soul, this is the most irritating thing to happen while editing photos and i never knew how to fix it. thank you

  21. Mc Gyver Natividad 7 September, 2016 at 03:54 Reply

    What about if the erase cursor if not circle… other than the cross line… when i caps lock it the cross line… when i off the capa lock it turns into eraser not the circle guide…

  22. amy 7 September, 2016 at 12:02 Reply

    This only took me 6 years to realize. I had just always thought it was photoshop being buggy and sometimes it wanted to show it and sometimes it didn’t so I just learned to live with it. Don’t know why Adobe would make a key that’s very easy to bump a shortcut command like that. big flaw I think!

  23. MARLENE 1 October, 2016 at 11:40 Reply

    HA!!! WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT YOUR POST FROM 9 YEARS AGO WOULD ACTUALLY HELP ME (CAPS ON FOR THIS COMMENT OF COURSE!) HAHA! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  24. Mark Hayworth 11 October, 2016 at 11:30 Reply

    Does not work with Photoshop CC (2016). If you pick the smudge tool, paintbrush, spot healer, etc. it doesn’t show you the bush size in a circle outline, regardless of the Caps Lock. Hitting left or right bracket will shrink or grow the brush size but it doesn’t show you the actual brush. You have to try to tool to see what it is. Very annoying because you don’t know what you’re drawing until you draw it.

    TO FIX: From the pulldown menu, select Edit / Preferences / Cursors. Then you need to change the radio button from “Standard” to “Full Size Brush Tip” then click OK. NOW, you will have the circle outline that shows you the actual brush size.

  25. Nate 11 October, 2016 at 15:12 Reply

    To think how many Photoshop users this tip has helped over the span of 8 years… I nominate the person who wrote this for the Graphic Design Nobel Peace Prize.

  26. Martin 21 October, 2016 at 15:17 Reply

    Thanks man you have really saved…my a**….. GOD bless your creativity n imaginations… Thanks man.. This photoshop.. I. Was just uninstalling it… But i have cancelled… I… Was really frustrated…

  27. Fatriya 24 October, 2016 at 21:23 Reply

    Damn dude, thank you so much, really. That’s really pissed me off, I changed the setting into default again and again, thank you

  28. CaptRicoSakara 13 November, 2016 at 09:55 Reply

    I’ve had this problem for years. Had to reboot my PC every time this came up, but I have no idea that you could simply just tab the caps key and fix it. Thank you for this info. You’ve saved my time on my works.

  29. Michael Young 29 December, 2016 at 21:24 Reply

    Thank you so much I just spent two hour trying to figure this problem out… Photoshop should address this issue their tool bar adjustments.. Have a great day..

  30. Sam 2 January, 2017 at 15:41 Reply

    This is unbelievable always thought that this photo shop is a stupid buggy program,

    But actually is my fingers, CAP LOCK NO CAP LOCK,

    Thank you ever so much 🙂

  31. Elena 5 January, 2017 at 17:07 Reply

    Simply fantastic!! Thanks a million, your post saves nerves and once again proves – before going crazy about something – google it! Great job, keep on!

  32. Ehhh 2 April, 2017 at 06:35 Reply

    Gosh I can’t find the cure… I have also problem with disappearing brushstroke from time to time, I mean there is a cursor and everything, blending modes set to normal, opacity 100% etc. and still when I draw there is no stroke. Restarting the PS helps, but it’s disruptive…

  33. Zubairz 29 April, 2017 at 19:15 Reply

    Insane this is still a problem worth googling for…. “photoshop brush disappeared, etc” …..2017..thanks for solution…caps lock, damn -_-

  34. Dave Deen 30 April, 2017 at 12:28 Reply

    feel like i must thank you !!!
    like many others that are not photoshop proffesionals it was a problem that always somehow solved itself (caps lock who could figure) it drove me crazy somtimes.
    thanks again.

  35. Anne 1 May, 2017 at 13:50 Reply

    My God! Instant Success! Clear instructions… and it worked.. amazing, thanks for your time to add it!

  36. Eyad 17 May, 2017 at 14:56 Reply

    Really thanks a lot, It is really simple but it drove me crazy. I was restarting my PC every time I see this problem

  37. AJ 25 May, 2017 at 13:56 Reply

    I SWEAR!! I never comment on anything online but when I read that this freakin issue has been the cap lock all this time my mind exploded!!! Thank you so much for this immense enlightenment!!!!!

  38. Jon 20 June, 2017 at 08:31 Reply

    This has driven me nuts for about 10 years or so… I thought it was my Mac struggling or something like that!

  39. Bram Hofland 25 June, 2017 at 07:59 Reply

    All the way from The Netherlands.
    If it wasn’t for you I would have been ready round about now to enter an insane asylum.
    Thanks very much!

  40. Mandy Trouten 30 June, 2017 at 20:49 Reply

    10 years and 4 months later: Nope. That feature still hasn’t been changed. Thank you for posting this article and for it still being online/visible.

  41. catherine 30 June, 2017 at 23:27 Reply

    This works for a second, but then goes away again… I’m working in Photoshop CC. Someone can help?

  42. Marlon 5 July, 2017 at 20:36 Reply

    I’d been using Photoshop for couple of years now and the brush tip that appear and disappear really bugs at times when I make rush layout on a rush, and just now, as in this moment that i made a decision to search for an answer for this disappearing act. Now I know that darn Caps Lock is the culprit. Thank you so much

  43. Claire 19 July, 2017 at 15:28 Reply

    OMG! I was about to give up on photoshop because of this. You are a freaking saint. Thanks so much to the moon and back

  44. mark sastos 22 July, 2017 at 09:18 Reply

    omygod.. THANKS A LOT! IVE BEEN WORKING PHOTOSHOP FOR ALMOST 7YRS and this problem makes me paranoid and irritated when im working.. ahahahahha

  45. Chris D'Andrea 25 July, 2017 at 07:55 Reply

    Here we are 10 years later and this still is a feature in Photoshop. Thank you. I have been going mad trying to figure out why it is there sometimes and then others it is off. Working on a Flyer and switching to text every so often and in and out of the program so turning caps lock on and off. This is crazy.

  46. Liliyan Divine 29 July, 2017 at 16:54 Reply

    Hahahahaha… I feel reeeeeeally stupid right now… and I’ve been designing for almost 6 years now xD….
    Damn…

  47. Lawbek 26 August, 2017 at 15:11 Reply

    Can’t believe this still exists. So simple and yet so annoying. Thanks for the tip! 2017 Needed this info. At least Adobe should mention it in the Preference Cursor Selection

  48. Hugh Jazz 13 October, 2017 at 05:19 Reply

    Holy crap, thanks for this tip.
    Sure enough I even searched for this problem on google in all caps because I forgot I had that still on.

  49. Bunnie 29 October, 2017 at 06:01 Reply

    Never had this problem until today and thanks to the World Wide Web my problem was fixed in a matter of minutes by finding this post. Read some of the comments and some people have been having this problem for years. Yikes.

  50. bob 2 November, 2017 at 12:06 Reply

    My problem isn’t the caps lock. I just can’t see the round brush, especially on a gray bkgd. The brush outline used to be thicker and would change color as you moved it around. Now it is very fine and gray on gray. My eyes can’t be this bad.

  51. Rachel 18 January, 2018 at 14:31 Reply

    damn i almost broke my computer over this motherfucking crosshair!! Its so stupid and annoying!! THANK YOU so much for this info! U saved my life LOL. and my pc life, too! ahah thank you thank you

  52. Patrick 1 February, 2018 at 11:52 Reply

    Holy crap, 11 years later and this is still helping people.
    First thing that pops up on google when searching this issue.
    Do not DELETE this post. Thanks for the info!

  53. Ram 23 May, 2018 at 04:47 Reply

    OMG this was a nightmare for me… Until i saw your post .. today May 23 May 2018 .
    10 years and 10 day later .

  54. popcorntimeapk.org 23 July, 2018 at 15:17 Reply

    I’ve been a professional graphic designer for years.. and have always had this problem.. wow.

  55. Nicholas 31 July, 2018 at 06:35 Reply

    Nooooooooooo way is it that simple!!! i have been going insane with this!! I thought i had a bug or something with my subscription! Thanks so much for posting this its like changed my life! I feel like I’ve eaten a snickers at last!

  56. Chris 6 September, 2018 at 19:47 Reply

    None of the above worked. So I just started mashing the non letter keys and when I hit the “alt” key, my white arrow showed up again.

  57. AA 27 September, 2018 at 15:15 Reply

    YES!!! Bringing up this discussion. Your tip worked and life is better, the sky is so blue again, and birds are singing once more from your simple tip.

  58. DJ 16 October, 2018 at 19:03 Reply

    Oh my word, THANK YOU!! I see this it’s years & years since you wrote this, yet your article is still saving sanity!

  59. Jeffrey K. 14 December, 2018 at 07:45 Reply

    THANK YOU! … really silly that there is no popup notice any place that it was turned off. I thought it was the display drivers giving trouble and restarted Photoshop to no avail. So annoying on deadlines when you are trying to deep etch a photo.

  60. mark 12 January, 2019 at 04:13 Reply

    Didn’t solve the problem. Caps lock didn’t do anything. resetting the program didn’t solve issue either. Reinstalling program didn’t do it. Guess what – I’m saying bye to photoshop because of it’s constant tool issues keeping me from my work and finding something more dependable. Maybe I’ll go back t
    o Corel paintshop pro. Not s fancy but at least it didn’t have all these constant tool (bug) issues

  61. Yaquiloco 12 February, 2019 at 19:45 Reply

    Ok one more thing… i have a bluetooth keyboard and it didn’t not indicate Caps lock on but my MBP keyboard did. I had to press the caps lock on my MBP keyboard (it was closed) and now all is back to normal.

  62. John 29 May, 2019 at 06:32 Reply

    Thanks a millions it has been a week i was trying to figure it out. Now i got it cos of you. Thanks alot again!

  63. RPS 20 June, 2019 at 02:30 Reply

    People still get completely confused by this, all these years later. (Me just now, for example.) Thanks for clearing things up so easily.

  64. Bex 22 October, 2019 at 21:01 Reply

    OMG. Thank you, Google for leading me to this article, and thank YOU for posting this. This has been driving me bat$hit crazy!!!

  65. JennieJenson 14 November, 2019 at 08:49 Reply

    What Andrew said. 😀

    But thank you for keeping this post available for those of us late to the bug-not-a-feature.

  66. RP 23 November, 2019 at 16:10 Reply

    THANK YOU! I’ve been teaching photoshop to high schoolers for 6 years and this has been a nuisance that pops up every now and then.

  67. Nader 6 December, 2019 at 13:05 Reply

    There’s some other bug that is causing this to happen and it’s not because of the caps lock key. It makes the crosshairs only show and in order to fix it you have to restart the computer. All the googling you do only points to this caps lock fix.

  68. Honor Zavatta-MacDonald 13 January, 2020 at 19:47 Reply

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. How many years have I been thinking this was the weirdest intermittent bug – and I could never replicate it, so I never bothered posting about it. jebus, adobe. >.<

    And thank you, Planet Photoshop.

  69. julian 31 January, 2020 at 15:53 Reply

    have a fix which I received from Ruchi at Adobe.

    I am using Photoshop 2020 on a Wacom mobile studi pro 16 for reference. 

    1. Open notepad

    2. Type the following

    # Use WinTab

    UseSystemStylus 0

    3. Save as PSUserConfig.txt

    4. The file needs to be placed into the correct folder. I could NOT save it directly to the correct folder while I had notepad open because the folder did not show up. In my case, I needed to press

    Windows key + r (simultaneously) 

    Type “appdata” (the reason for this was the “appdata” folder did not show up for me. If you experience a similar problem then you should be able to do step 1 above and type (missing folder name) with successful results).

    The folders you need to click in order (also known as “the path”) are as follows. 

    1. From file explorer click on the left hand side, the disk with the operating system (almost always the C: Drive)

    2. Click “Users”

    3. Click “user name” (the profile name you created when setting up your device. Shows when you login to your device”

    4. Click “appdata”

    5. Click “roaming”

    6. Click “Adobe Photoshop 2020” (its 2020 in my case but may be a different version depending on which one you own)

    7. Click “Adobe Photoshop 2020 settings” (again, will mention your version in the file name)

    8. Save the file here if you are saving directly from notepad or manualy click on the notepad folder and drag it into the folder. Be sure not to accidently highlight one of the folders at the top or it will place it into that folder. Drag it to the bottom of the list to be sure.

    Finally, launch Adobe and hopefully you never need to deal with this problem again. If this doesn’t work, I truly feel for you because nothing is more frustrating, but you can contact Adobe directly through a chat at the link here. Just copy paste this post and tell them it didn’t work and they will have further solutions

  70. npc 2 September, 2020 at 20:18 Reply

    Well here we are in 2020 and this problem still driving people nuts. Photoshop should be ashamed to leave this issue unresolved all this time.

  71. npc 2 September, 2020 at 20:19 Reply

    Well here we are in 2020 and this problem still driving people nuts. Thanks so much for the help. Photoshop should be ashamed to leave this issue unresolved all this time.

  72. jay 3 September, 2020 at 21:03 Reply

    Holy Smokes….2020 and this issue is still an issue hahaha…been driving me insane for months, I would just ignore but today I got fed up and decided to google it…can’t believe it was such a simple solution….sheeeesh bless you man.

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