A Fix for Broken Photoshop and Illustrator Tools

For the longest time now, every so often my Photoshop and Illustrator editing tools would just stop working. I could load an image into Photoshop, try to crop it and all it would do is maintain the direct select tool cursor. It wouldn’t crop, draw a marquee or anything else that would alter the size of the image or canvas. I could do some things, like insert text, but I couldn’t erase. I could paint, but not use the healing brush. In Illustrator, the problems were similar. In addition, Illustrator would make a copy of every layer I clicked on. Drag a square with the direct select and you’d get another square dropped in the position you wanted it to be, plus the original in the old spot. The only known fix was to restart the machine and hold out for a few more days. Annoying.

Googling for the solution was useless. Try a search for “Crop tools don’t work in Photoshop” and all you’ll get is a bunch of about.com and ehow.com tutorials on how to use the crop tool. Very annoying. I even bought 4 GB more RAM thinking that would help, but nothing.

However, I have found a solution: disable OpenGL Drawing.

It’s a new feature in CS5 (maybe it was there in CS4, but I think it’s new) that interfaces with the computer’s graphics card. My iMac is brand new and Adobe’s products have never played nicely with Macs and OS X the last few years it seems. Disabling the OpenGL processor in Photoshop’s Preferences > Performance has fixed my problems.

Supposedly, using OpenGL would make for smoother graphics and less resource usage, but I haven’t really noticed the different with it on or off. It’s probably a bug that Adobe blames Apple for and Apple blames Adobe for, no doubt.

Want to know when stuff like this is published?
Sign up for my email list.

Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

Leave a Comment