Why Does Photoshop Have a Question Mark Icon?

As a Photoshop user, you may try to access the application on your Mac one day and find that instead of the typical icon there is just a question mark in its place. This is very confusing, and if you need to use Photoshop for time-sensitive graphic design projects, it can be very frustrating as well.

The question mark icon occurs because a new version of Photoshop has been created that is not yet visible as a Mac doc icon. It can also occur when the Photoshop application has been recently deleted from a laptop.

The question mark may not only be strange to look at but also an inconvenience. Keep reading to learn more about why this phenomenon happens, how you can fix it, and some tips to bypass the inconvenience it may cause.

Question Mark as Photoshop Icon

As one of the most popular graphic design software tools, it is to be expected that Photoshop may run into the occasional glitch. If you are trying to open Photoshop one day and see that there is a question mark instead of the standard Photoshop icon, this is a common occurrence that can leave you wondering if the problem is with the application or with your computer.

There are two main reasons why this icon typically shows up on the dock of your Mac. The following sections will discuss the standard causes.

1. There is a New Version of the App

Because it is such a cutting-edge graphic design software, Photoshop is continuously updating. Sometimes, rather than just updating, Adobe will create a new version of the app. While this is exciting as it promises new and enhanced features, it is also the primary cause of the icon disappearing on your Mac dock and being replaced with a question mark.

The simple answer for why this happens with a new version of Photoshop is because there has been a glitch and your Mac has not yet had time to accommodate the new version. For this reason, the question mark occurs as the icon image may be temporarily incompatible with your Mac’s display capabilities.

2. You Have Recently Deleted the App

Some people may find that Photoshop is not for them, opting instead for more straightforward graphic design software like Placeit.net, and will delete the application. Sometimes deleting the application is not as simple as hitting a button, though. When you delete Photoshop, it is common that a question mark will remain on the dock where your Photoshop application once was.

This may seem strange to look at, but rest assured that the app has been successfully deleted and in this case, it is just a display error with your computer.

Fixing the Issue

Once you have realized why the question mark is there, you will naturally want to take steps to resolve the issue. There are generally some easy-to-follow solutions that can help you get rid of the pesky question mark icon and get back to your graphic design work.

  • Restart your computer: Sometimes your laptop might just need a chance to catch up. If it has been a while since you have restarted your laptop, take some time to do that. Make sure it is plugged into its charger and you select the option to install updates, if possible.
  • Remove the icon from your dock: Keep in mind that this is only a solution if you want to delete the app. If you do, you can get rid of the question mark by opening your dock, and then dragging the question mark icon to the trash or left-clicking to delete.
  • Remove the icon from your dock and then re-open Photoshop: Sometimes you may just need to remove the icon and then access the Photoshop application from Adobe Cloud. Once you have done this, it will hopefully open up again on your dock, this time displaying the correct image.

If you still run into issues after attempting these fixes, it may be best to contact Adobe directly or a reputable tech-support company in your area.

Can I Still Use Photoshop When There is a Question Mark?

Do not panic. If your Adobe Photoshop is showing a question mark, you should still be able to access the application through the Adobe Cloud. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Go to the cloud icon at the top of your screen and click on it
  • Drop down the menu
  • Click on the Photoshop button to open the application

This should allow you to open the application and get back to your design work.

Does the Question Mark Only Appear on Macs

Though this is a problem most commonly found with Macs, it may still happen on your Windows computer or laptop and its version of an application dock. If this is the case, you should follow the same steps to resolve the issue.


There is no greater frustration to a graphic designer than technology not working as it should. When a question mark shows up instead of the Photoshop icon on your application dock, your first instinct might be to grow irritated and contact tech support. Fortunately, this problem is most often caused by a new version of the app or a recent app deletion and can be solved through some quick steps.

Try removing the icon from the dock, restarting your computer, or accessing the application through Adobe Cloud. If all else fails, know that you can still access the app through the Cloud function. At this point, you may also want to contact Adobe tech support to explain the issue and see how they can help you.

Graphic design does not have to be so complicated. Although Adobe Photoshop is a very useful tool, other online design tools like Placeit.net can give you some reprieve from the constant software updates and the complications that this can cause. Whatever you decide to do, know that the question mark icon is not the end of the world, and you should hopefully be back to designing in no time at all.