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Troubleshooting Text Tool Problems in Photoshop

Troubleshooting Text Tool Problems in Photoshop

So I was busily editing away late one night creating an invitation for one of my clients when to my horror all my text disappeared.

Gone. Nada. Nothing. Nix. Invisible.

All. Of. It.

Then I noticed a very strange thing in Photoshop: Instead of showing the colour of my text, the text colour box just showed a question mark.

I changed the colour of my text, but still the problem remained. I changed the font. No better. I deleted the text layer and made a new one. No luck. I shut down the file and created a completely new file. From scratch. All that work done all over again. I shut Photoshop down and restarted my computer. Still no text. Everything I typed just ran away and hid! Well, to be more accurate, it didn’t even bother to show up in the first place.

Panic ensued. I ran a virus check.

No viruses found. Phew. But still no text!

So I did what every good Photoshop user does in such situations: I Googled.

It seems I wasn’t the first person to have this problem, but a solution wasn’t at all easy to find. Most of the forum conversations I looked at rapidly turned into heated criticisms of people’s design tastes and font choices, but offered little by way of solution to the problem, until one quiet little voice at the end of one forum said softly, “Select ‘Reset Character’ in the character palette.”

Unfortunately I can remember neither the forum nor the author of that comment, but I have concluded that things softly spoken are often worth hearing.

Here’s where you’ll find the character palette:

And now the text is visible again!

Happy editing and designing!



Jennifer Taylor runs vividity photography in Sydney, Australia, specialising in child and family portraits. When she started her photography career almost everyone was shooting film, so learning Photoshop has been a fun challenge for her. She’d be thrilled to bits if you were to drop by her blog and leave a little love note.



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  1. Anna
    April 2, 2012 at 9:22 am — Reply

    the character tab is usually found under Window/Character….It’s not always to the left on the info tab…never has been on mine.

    • April 9, 2012 at 2:27 am — Reply

      Thanks for the extra info, Anna. As I said in my post, definitely not a PS expert here! I guess the location of the character tab is dependent on what palettes you like to have visible on your workspace. Jen.

  2. marian wigdorovitz
    April 2, 2012 at 9:46 am — Reply

    A beautifully written article, and a precise and useful tip. I usually have problems whenever I want to add a text on an image.
    Thanks a lot for being so didactical, Jen!!!

  3. Alice C.
    April 2, 2012 at 10:25 am — Reply

    That’s awesome! I haven’t had that happen to me before, but it’s good to know the fix if it dpes!

  4. April 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    This is a tip that will stick in my head. Hope it never happens, but if it does, I’m ready!

  5. Amandajean
    April 3, 2012 at 6:10 am — Reply

    I’m glad you were able to find a way to fix it. Thankfully I never had that problem, Only time I ever see the question mark in the color box is if my text is more then one color =)

  6. April 3, 2012 at 7:13 am — Reply

    Great tip, thanks. But I would like to also know (not expecting you to look into it … just a comment) but would like to know what caused the problem in the first place. Was it something done in Photoshop where that is the outcome, or is it simply a glitch that Adobe built in a recovery feature? I think it is the later.

    • April 9, 2012 at 2:22 am — Reply

      I’d LOVE to know what caused it. Never did find the root of the problem.

  7. Sally
    April 3, 2012 at 11:12 am — Reply

    This has happened to me on several occasions and I had to close our PS and restart it in order for the text to show up. Thank you so much for sharing this tip!It makes things so much easier!

    • April 9, 2012 at 2:24 am — Reply

      You’re welcome, Sally. Glad you found it helpful. Jen

  8. April 4, 2012 at 4:55 am — Reply

    This tutorial was really helpful for both newbie & advanced user. you’ve done really excellent work. I’ll visit your blog again.

    • April 9, 2012 at 2:23 am — Reply

      Thanks clipping path. Loads of really great info on this blog. Check out Jodie’s video tutorials. Really worthwhile. Jen.

  9. guest
    April 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm — Reply

    i really need to learn this stuff

    • April 9, 2012 at 2:28 am — Reply

      Keep dropping by the MCP actions blog, and you’ll learn all sorts of really useful stuff!

  10. Jean
    July 10, 2012 at 6:28 am — Reply


  11. December 19, 2012 at 8:57 am — Reply

    Bingo! Thanks so much for this – I was about to throw my Mac through the window in despair!

  12. schtals
    December 28, 2012 at 6:17 am — Reply

    Window – Character > Text options dropmenu – RESET CHARACTER.

  13. Jesterman
    January 14, 2013 at 9:55 am — Reply

    Thank You!!
    This has been driving me crazy.

  14. MarcLab
    February 1, 2013 at 9:06 am — Reply

    you saved me.

  15. April 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm — Reply

    GAH! I almost started crying last night I couldnt figure it out! thank you so much I got it working again!

  16. August 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm — Reply

    thanks for your info…..it works for me to. now the question mark is gone and i can use my PShop again

  17. January 15, 2014 at 3:28 pm — Reply

    You are my hero! This was the exact issue I was having.
    Thank you so much for posting this article!

  18. September 24, 2014 at 3:15 am — Reply

    Thank you so much – so glad I found your article. There were a million complicated “answers” and this simple thing was the actual thing that worked. Really appreciate it.

  19. November 17, 2014 at 10:39 am — Reply

    Thanks so much! You are amazing-totally needed this! Now to figure out why my brushes are missing.LOL

  20. Amber
    April 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    Thank you sooo much! I searched everywhere!! I thought I was going crazy!! 🙂

  21. July 20, 2016 at 9:35 pm — Reply

    Well, I wondered what I had done to my files—or if they had all become corrupted—when a client who does a lot of concerts (and therefore frequently needs me to make concert posters by updating the info in them) asked me to make a poster today. Every time I edited the text and switched back to the Move tool, blocks of the text would disappear. When I clicked in to any of these transparent lines with the Text tool, it would all reappear, only to disappear again as soon as I exited Text mode. I was confounded when I saw that exported files were not showing the text either. The placement of the disappearing blocks was pretty random and I could not figure out what was going on. Much Googling ensued, only to find solutions for InDesign but not PS. then I found your article. I read all the way to the end and found that the little quiet voice was the one that would save my bacon too! “…things softly spoken are often worth hearing.” Well said, and more often true than not. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Now I can send the finished concert poster to my client. Whew!

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Troubleshooting Text Tool Problems in Photoshop