Radial Menu

The Radial menu is one of the really great innovations in the Intuos, Intuos Pro and Cintiq line of Graphics Tablets.

What it does is give you the opportunity to place your most used keyboard shortcuts in an overlay on your screen right there in front of you - no more fumbling about trying to find the shortcut you need on your keyboard! 

To access any of the commands on the menu you simply tap on one of the pie pieces with your Wacom pen and that command is activated.

What a unique and innovative way to access your favorite keyboard shortcuts!

It's useful, fun, easy to program and really, really useful.
It's amazing ... 

Consumer Products vs Professional Products

When it was first introduced there was only one version of the menu and it was only included with the Professional Intuos tablets and the Cintiq's.  When the Intuos consumer products replaced the old Bamboo line the Radial Menu was included with them as well.

Much like the differences between the consumer and the pro tablets, there is a difference between the radial menus included with each line - the menu for the Pro and Cintiq products is more substantial than the one for the Intuos consumer products.  If you're not sure of the differences between the tablets you can find my evaluation quick here or the main Wacom site.

With the consumer products you've got 8 available "pie slices" that you can program.  With the Pro and Cintiq products each of the top "pie slices" can have up to 8 more shortcuts underneath it - that's 64 keyboard shortcuts.

Are you using an Intuos Pro or Cintiq?  If yes then jump on down to the Intuos Pro section ...

Radial Menu

The Radial Menu for the Intuos products is located in the Wacom tablet properties of the Control Panel (Windows) and System Preferences (Mac).

To the right of Application: are the programs that the driver recognized on your computer when the driver was installed.  Sometimes a painting, drawing or editing program you use regularly may be missing.  In that case click the + sign on the far right and follow the instructions to add your missing programs.

You can program the Radial Menu so that it works the same in all programs or you can set it up to behave differently in different applications (probably the best).  In my example the keyboard shortcuts would be different for each of the programs that are visible (Photoshop, Photoshop elements and PaintShop Pro).  

For this tutorial I'll program the menu to be Elements specific.

Launching the Radial Menu

To use the radial menu it has to be accessible and the easiest way to lunch it is to assign either one of the express keys on the tablet or the side button on the pen to launch the menu.

I find it much easier to have the top half of the rocker button on the pen assigned to launch the menu. To do this click on the Pen Tab on the properties screen, click on the drop-down menu that says Right Click and select Radial Menu.

What this has done is remove Right Click from the pen so it should be added back in somewhere. The logical place is to use one of the Express Keys on the tablet and that's what I did. Click on the Tablet Tab to see the configuration of the express keys. I chose to make the top left key into the Right Click button.

Now I'm ready to go with the programming.

Making The Menu Yours

to customize the menu to the way you work click on the far right tab in the Wacom Tablet Properties. This will bring up the default view for the Radial Menu.

Before you start poking around in the different "pie slices"or segments, it might be a good idea to make a list of the keyboard shortcuts you want to add. Photoshop elements is highlighted in the walk him tablet properties so I'll add keyboard shortcuts specific to Elements for this example.

It's always a good thing to start at the top.

Changing The Functions

When you drop down the Function menu, you've got 10 choices available. Probably the most useful one for Photoshop elements is keystroke. With the list of your most common keyboard shortcuts handy, it's time to begin.

Click keystroke to bring up the following menu…

The first thing you want to do is to clear out any pre-existing keyboard shortcuts in the Keys: field. You do that by tapping on the Clear button - you cannot highlight the existing keystroke and hit delete because the dialogue will think it's part of your keyboard shortcut - you have to use the Clear button.

Once the area is blank enter the new keyboard shortcut on your keyboard and it will appear in the Keys field.

Now go down to the Name: field, highlight the name that's there and type in the new name.

I tend to make a lot of errors in my digital editing so I chose to have the very top slice be the undo command.

One down, seven to go!

Really, that's all there is to it. If you've got Elements open while you're doing this then after you've programmed each slice you can test it out to make sure it works properly. The whole procedure takes no more than 10 minutes.

Just for reference, here are some sample menus.  Your will likely be different because we all work differently and have our preferred keyboard shortcuts.

All Others 

  • Undo
  • Cut
  • Paste
  • OneNote
  • Elements 11
  • Spreadsheet
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking


  • Launch Bridge
  • Step Backward
  • New Layer
  • Default Colors
  • Swap Foreground-Background
  • Curves Adjustment Layer
  • Levels Adjustment Layer
  • Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

Photoshop Elements

  • Undo
  • Toggle Layers
  • New Layer
  • Copy Layer
  • Step Forward
  • Default Colors
  • Swap Foreground-Background
  • Brush Tool

PaintShop Pro

  • Paint Brush Tool
  • Undo
  • New Raster Layer
  • Duplicate Layer
  • Default Color
  • Swap Foreground-Background
  • Toggle Palettes
  • Clone Brush


  • New Topic
  • Insert Sub Topic
  • Delete
  • Undo
  • Select Brothers
  • Select Children
  • Export
  • Enter Title

Video - activating and setting the Radial Menu for Intuos Tablets.

Intuos Pro
Radial Menu

The radio menu for the Intuos Pro and Cintiq products is a beast!

"What makes the menu a beast?" you may wonder …

  • It's powerful and versatile.
  • It can be set to work in any program on your computer.
  • It's easy to program dozens of keyboard shortcuts into the menu.
  • It's convenient and speeds up workflow.

What we are going to do is take a look at the menu, how to activate it and how to set it up for any program on your computer. Everything to do with the Radial Menu starts in the Wacom Tablet Properties (in the Control Panel, Windows or System Preferences, Mac).

Wacom Tablet PropertiesWacom Tablet Properties

Wacom Tablet Properties

These are the default settings for the Intuos Pro tablet on my computer.

The top part of the properties panel describes the computer system with no programming whatsoever. Below that are the tabs for the Express Keys to Touch Ring and the Radial Menu.

The active tab shows the settings for the Express Keys and not one of them is program for the radial menu.

I need to make a few changes to take full advantage of the power of this menu.

Accessing The Menu

To access the menu it's necessary to change one of the Express Keys or one of the buttons on the side of the pen or have one of the Touch Functions set to Radial Menu.

There are disadvantages to each accessing method.  When you use an Express Key or the pen side button then they are no longer available. especially if you're using an Intuos Pro Small with only 6 Express Keys.

After some experimentation, I decided to use the Three Fingers Tap in My Gestures and that keept all of the Express Keys and the pen side button available.

Now whenever I want to bring up the menu its a simple three finger tap on the tablet surface.  At first I was not really sold on the Touch Functions - now I think they are fabulous!

Adding Applications

if you just program Photoshop keyboard shortcuts into your menu and you are taking advantage of the full power of this. You can have a unique Radial Menu for pretty much any program on your computer.

You can see I've added a few programs to the Application: list.  There are actually a few more programs added that are not displayed because there's not enough space to show them all.

To add a program simply click on the + sign (outlined in red) and select the program from the list that is presented or click Browse to find the program you want to add.

Now I don't know about you, but I find it difficult locating program files in Windows and its not so difficult in Mac. With my Windows 7 machine I type the name of the program in the search bar (on the Start Menu) and when the program shows up in the results I just right-click and choose Open File Location and there's the path to the program at the top of the screen. 

Programming for Each Application

Once you've got all of the programs added to the Application list it's time to make each one unique to the application.

Probably the easiest way is to get out a pen and paper and make a list of the keyboard shortcuts you want for each program.  Don't fret if you have more than 8 shortcuts because the menu with the Intuos Pro can have submenus so that means in a program like Photoshop and ArtRage you can, if you want, have all of the tools living in a submenu with the top menu labelled Tools.

Once you've got it set up and start using the Radial Menu you will absolutely love it!

Photoshop Adjustment Layers

The puzzling thing in Photoshop is that there are no keyboard shortcuts for what probably are the most useful part of Photoshop, the Adjustment Layers.  Now wouldn't it be great to have your favorite adjustment layer instantly accessible?

I wouldn't ask the question if I didn't know there was a way to make keyboard shortcuts for the Adjustment Layers  and this is how to do it ...

1.  Open the Keyboard Shortcut dialogue in Photoshop - Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts ...

2.  Drop down the Shortcuts For: menu and select Application Menus.  On the panel below the drop down menu all of the menus that are normally at the top of the screen are now visible.

3.  Scroll down the panel until you find the Layer Application menus.  Click on the little arrow to open up the complete Layers menu.

4.  Now scroll down until New Adjustment Layer is visible.  

5.  Highlight the Adjustment Layer for which you would like to create a new Keyboard Shortcut. When you do that a little box will open up where you can type in your new Keyboard Shortcut.   

6.  If you enter either Ctrl-F4 or Ctrl-F6 (Windows) you'll discover that they are assigned to the Windows OS and will not work.   There are 18 Adjustment Layers in Photoshop and only 10 of the Ctrl+ Function Keys available.  Some further searching turned up the Shift+Ctrl+Letter key combinations.  I didn't include the Adjustment Layers I never use.

A warning - the Ctrl+Function keys are assigned to Actions so when you click Accept you'll get a warning message.

Personalizing The Menu 

Once all that other stuff is done, personalizing the menu is quite simple.

  1. Choose the Application to work on. Make sure you're on the Radial Menu tab
  2. Select the first slice and keep your shortcut list handy.
  3. Click on Function: and chose from one of the 12 functions available.
  4. Add the Keyboard shortcut, program name or whatever you want.
  5. Go to the next slice and do it again.

Adding keyboard Shortcuts

To get to this menu select Function: and if Keyboard has a checkmark click on it to open this dialogue.

If there is already a keyboard shortcut in the Keys: field then hit the clear button to remove it. If you try to remove it by highlighting it and backspacing or hitting delete, those keystrokes will be added.

Now type the keyboard shortcut, go down to the Name: field and type in the name for your keyboard shortcut.  Click OK.

There – your first keyboard shortcut has been entered. If you use nothing but keyboard shortcuts on the menu then just do it seven or times.

If you're going to use the Open/Run ... or Submenu then you need to take some additional steps.


When you select Open/Run the dialogue box (above, left) will open. Click the browse button and rummage around in your program files to find the program you wish to lunch. Double-click on it.

Now the dialogue (upper, right) will open. If you wish to change the name that will show up in your menu slice then type it in the name field and click OK.

Now when you activate the Radial Menu and click on the slice you just made the program you selected will open.


Adding a submenu on one slice of the main menu can open up eight new keyboard shortcuts underneath it. You're drilling down, so to speak. You can even add another submenu to your submenu which means your drilling down to levels. I expect you can go even further but probably 15 keyboard shortcuts is enough.

When you click on submenu in Function: you are presented with the upper left dialogue. On the left there's a navigation tree, on the right the word submenu is in the Label: field and added the name to the slice. With my Photoshop keyboard shortcuts for the adjustment layer's, I changed the name in the layer field to Adjustment Layers.

When you click on submenu on the navigation tree you're presented with the dialogue above on the right. Now it's a simple matter of programming although slices the way you want them.

Backup Your Settings

From personal experience I've learned how useful it is to make a backup of the settings you program into your Properties Panel.  Here's how I know - I programmed my Intuos Pro Medium for 7 Applications on my computer ...

  1. Photoshop
  2. Photoshop Elements
  3. PaintShop Pro
  4. ArtRage
  5. Xmind
  6. Excel
  7. All Others

The next time I booted up my computer all of the new settings were gone and I had to re-do everything!

With the latest drivers for the Intuos, Intuos Pro, Cintiq and Cintiq Companion a program called Wacom Desktop Center is installed.

This is where you get access to all of the Tablet Settings for your Intuos Pro.  The highlighted one in the Backup & Restore Settings section will make a copy of your setings and save it to your computer.  You can also save them to the Wacom Cloud - it's a good idea to backup to one or the other!

If you don't have the Wacom Desktop Center on your computer it's time to download the latest drivers.  The Intuos, Intuos Pro, Cintiq and Cintiq Companion all share the same driver which is much better than different drivers for the different tablets.

Video - accessing. programming and using the Radial Menu with an Intuos Pro, Cintiq and Cintiq Companion.

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