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Overview of the Toolbox

The toolbox is where you will find all the tools you need to create images and graphics, as well as manipulate your Stage view. It has been redesigned in the Flash 5 version. The toolbox is now more consistent in its presentation of tools and tool options (see Figure 3.8). This new layout of tools, views, and options of the toolbox is consistent with other Macromedia products and their toolbox features.

Figure 3.8
When Flash is launched, the toolbox displays floating in the application window. You can quickly access any of the tools by clicking them.

The toolbox contains the toolbar, which is very similar to other graphic package's toolbars. You will find that many of the tools in the toolbar function like many of the tools that you have used in other graphics packages. New with Flash 5 is the Pen tool, which is a Bézier drawing tool. You also have a new Subselect tool. Each tool has its own set of option settings that allow you to change or alter a feature of the tool. When you select a tool, the option area displays option settings under Colors or Options for that tool. You can also alter the view of the Stage through the View settings.

View the Toolbox

By default, the toolbox displays when Flash is launched. But this toolbox can be closed and opened through a menu command. You would close the toolbox so that you have a full view of your Stage. Use the menu command of Window, Tools to display or hide the toolbox.

Tip - You can also close the toolbox by clicking the close button on the Toolbox title bar.

Note - You can dock and undock the toolbox on a PC machine. Typical of docking any toolbar, if the toolbox is floating, select it by clicking on any part of the toolbox that is not a tool and drag it to the right or left edge of the Flash application window. The toolbox will dock itself in that location, becoming a toolbar. You cannot dock the toolbox on the top or bottom of the Flash application window. If you want to undock the Flash toolbar, again click any part of the toolbar that is not a tool and drag it away from the edge of the Flash application window. It will become a floating toolbox.

Note - A toolbox on the Macintosh is always floating. It can be moved to any location in the Flash application window by clicking on the title bar or the very edge of the toolbox, and dragging it to a new location.

Tools and Options

As discussed, the toolbox is comprised of a toolbar and various options. See Figure 3.9 for a listing of all tools available in the toolbox. You can select a tool from the toolbar or view area of the toolbox by clicking it. Click each tool and notice that the Colors and Options areas change to reflect specific features that are available for the active tool.

Figure 3.9
The toolbar contains all the tools you will need to create vector images and graphics. You will also use these tools, in conjunction with menu commands and panels, and other options when you convert bitmapped images into vector graphics.

Note - Another very nice feature that Flash offers (especially to people new to Flash) is ToolTips for all tools and options of each tool. Position your mouse over the Text tool but do not click. A ToolTip displays with the tool name (see Figure 3.10).

Figure 3.10
ToolTips quickly identify a tool or option feature. This is a wonderful feature for those new to Flash.

Accessing Tools Through Keyboard Commands

Flash provides a keyboard shortcut for quickly selecting tools from the toolbox. You might have noticed that when you display a ToolTip, at the end of the ToolTip label is a letter in parentheses. This is the keyboard shortcut or hotkey for quickly accessing a tool. Press the assigned hotkey and you will activate the tool in the toolbox. This way your hands do not need to leave the keyboard. The following table lists all tools and their assigned hotkeys.

Table 3.1 Hotkeys



Arrow tool


Subselect tool


Lasso tool


Line tool


Pen tool


Text tool


Oval tool


Rectangle tool


Pencil tool


Brush tool


Ink Bottle tool


Paint Bucket tool


Dropper tool


Eraser tool


Hand tool


Zoom tool

M, Z

Tip - You can activate the Hand tool at any time, by pressing the spacebar. Your mouse will change to the Hand tool. Let go of the spacebar and the Hand tool disappears.

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