Toggle Between Precise Cursors and Standard Cursors In Photoshop CC

You may want to change a tool's cursor for detailed work

The Cursors Preferences in Photoshop CC are shown with Precise Cursors selected.
Use the Preferences or the Caps Lock key to switch to Precise Cursors.

Sometimes, when you use a tool in Adobe Photoshop CC, your cursor takes on the appearance of the tool—the eyedropper tool looks like an eyedropper and the pen tool looks like a pen tip, for example. The cursors of other tools display a circle on the image, which indicates the area the tool affects. If you prefer a more exact method of working, tap the caps lock key on the keyboard after you choose a tool to change the standard cursor to a precise cursor.

This gives you a crosshair tool that is much easier to use when you want to do detailed, up-close work on an image. Tap the caps lock key once more to return the precise cursor to the standard cursor.

If you find your cursor inexplicably changes from brush shape to crosshairs or vice versa, you probably accidentally tapped the caps lock key. Tap it again.

Tools With Precise Settings

A precise cursor is available for many of Photoshop CC’s brush tools, brush-based tools or other tools. Using a precise cursor is helpful when it’s important to start a brush stroke at a specific point on an image or to sample a single pixel's color values. Tools that have precise cursor capabilities include:

  • Eyedropper
  • Healing brushes
  • Patch Tool
  • Red Eye
  • Brushes
  • Rubber Stamp
  • Dodge, Burn and Sponge 

If you switch the Eyedropper tool to a precise cursor, be sure to check the Sample Size in the Tool Options. Unless you are looking for a single pixel, you don't want a Point Sample.

The reason is that sample will be the exact color of the single pixel that is being sampled—you may not be choosing the color you want. Instead, choose either the 3 x 3 Average or 5 x 5 Average sample sizes. This tells Photoshop to look at the three or five pixels surrounding the sample point and calculate the average of all the color values for the pixels in the sample.

Changing Precise Cursor Settings

If your workflow is such that you need total precision all the time, you can set the Photoshop Preferences to use only precise cursors. Here's how:

  1. Click Photoshop CC on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click on Cursors in the drop-down menu to open a preferences screen.
  3. Select Cursors in the left panel of the preferences screen.
  4. Select Precise in the Painting Cursors section and Precise in the Other Cursors section.