Here Are 97 Photoshop Tips & Shortcuts
Saturday 07 December 2013

Here Are 97 Photoshop Tips & Shortcuts

Improve your skills and speed up your workflow with these 120 expert Photoshop tips, tricks and fixes covering brush tools, layers, shortcuts and more.

01. Rotating patterns

You can make amazing kaleidoscopic patterns with the help of a keyboard shortcut. Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T lets you duplicate a layer and repeat a transformation in one go. To demonstrate, we’ve made a narrow glowing shape by squeezing a lens flare effect, but you can use any shape, image or effect you like. First, make an initial rotation by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+T and turning slightly, then hit Enter to apply. Next, press

 

Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T repeatedly to create a pattern.

02. Combine images with text

There’s a really easy way to overlay an image on top of text. Drop an image layer over a type layer then hold down Alt and click the line between the two layers in the Layers Panel to clip the image to the text.

 

03. Bird’s Eye View When zoomed in close, hold down H and drag in the image to instantly dart out to full screen then jump back to another area. One of the best Photoshop tips for viewing work!

04. Quick full Layer Masks You can Alt-click on the Layer Mask icon to add a full mask that hides everything on the layer.

05. Easier marquee selections Hold down Alt to start a selection at the centre point with any Marquee tool, and then hold Space to temporarily move the selection around.

06. Funky backgrounds

Want to change the default grey background to something more funky? Shift–click over the background area with the Paint Bucket tool to fill it with your foreground colour. Right-click it to go back to grey.

 

07. 1000 History states Go to Edit>Preferences>Performance to change the number of History states up to a maximum of 1000. Beware though of the effect that this has on performance.

08. Colour Code Layers Use colour coding to organise your Layers Panel. Right-click over a layer’s eye icon to quickly access 8 colour code choices.

09. Close all images To close all of your documents at the same time, Shift-click any image window’s close icon.

10. Spring-loaded Move While using any tool, hold Cmd/Ctrl to temporarily switch to the Move tool. Release to go back to your original tool. Note that spring-loaded keyboard shortcuts work for other tool shortcuts, too.

11. Interactive Zoom For interactive zooming, hold Cmd/Ctrl+Space then drag right to zoom in, or left to zoom out. The zoom targets where your mouse icon is, so it’s one of the quickest ways to navigate around an image.

12. Lightning fast layer copies Hold down Cmd+Alt and drag any layer to instantly make a copy.

13. Diffuse effects

The Diffuse Glow filter can give highlights a soft ethereal feel, especially when you combine the effect with desaturation. Hit D to reset colours then go to Filter>Distort> Diffuse Glow. Keep the effect fairly subtle, then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/ Saturation and drop the saturation down to complete the dreamlike effect.

 

14. Undo, Undo, Undo You probably know that Cmd/Ctrl+Z is Undo, but you may not know Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Z lets you undo more than one history state.

15. Cycle Blend Modes Shift + or Shift – will cycle through different layer Blend Modes, so long as you don’t have a tool that uses Blend Mode options settings.

16 - 43. Shortcuts

  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E will merge a copy of all Layers
  • F Cycle through workspace backgrounds
  • X Change your foreground and background colours
  • D Reset foreground and background colours to black and white
  • and Change your brush tip size
  • Cmd/Ctrl+J Duplicate a layer or selection
  • Space Bar Hold Space and drag to navigate around the image
  • TAB Hides or shows all panels and tools
  • Cmd/Ctrl+T Transform a layer
  • Cmd/Ctrl+E Merge selected layer down, or merges several highlighted layers
  • Cmd/Ctrl/Ctrl+Shift+Opt+S Save for web & devices
  • Cmd/Ctrl+L Bring up levels box
  • Cmd/Ctrl+T Open Free Transform tool
  • Cmd/Ctrl+M Open Curves
  • Cmd/Ctrl+B Edit Colour Balance
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Opt+C Scale your image to your preferred state
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Opt+G Create clipping mask
  • Cmd/Ctrl+0 Fit on screen
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+>/< Increase/decrease size of selected text by 2pts
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Option+Shift->/< Increase/decrease size of selected text by 10pts
  • ]/[ Increase/decrease brush size
  • Shift+F5 Fill the selection
  • }/{ Increase/decrease brush hardness
  • ,/. previous/next brush
  •  First/last brush
  • Cmd/Ctrl+] Bring layers forward
  • Cmd/Ctrl+[ Send layer back
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+[ Send layer to bottom of stack
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+] Bring layer to bottom of stack

 

44 - 56. Layers

45. View one layer If you’re working with multiple layers and you want to view one layer on its own, there’s no need to hide all the others manually, simply hold down Alt and click the Eye icon of a layer to make every other layer invisible. Hold down Alt and click again to reveal them.

46. Invert a Layer Mask After adding any Adjustment Layer, hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the Layer Mask and quickly hide the effect, then paint back over the image with white to selectively reveal the adjustment.

47. Unlink layers and masks You can move either a mask or an image independently of one another by clicking the link between the two thumbnails in the Layers Panel. Highlight the thumbnail you want to reposition, then grab the Move tool.

48. Quick copy Hold down Alt and drag a mask, style or layer to quickly duplicate it.

49. Convert the Background Double-click the Background Layer and hit OK to convert it to an editable layer

50. Adjustments Always use Adjustment Layers rather than directly editing a layer. This gives you three advantages: you can edit it at any time, control the strength with Opacity, and use a mask to make it work selectively.

51. Move query When using the Move tool, right-click over a point in the image for a list of all the layers you’re hovering over.

52. Panel Options The Layers Panel is the most important box in Photoshop, so you’ll want to make sure it’s set up properly for your needs. Choose Panel Options from the Fly-out menu to select different thumbnail sizes and content.

53. Move layers up or down You can move layers up or down the stack in the Layers Panel while watching the image change. Hold down Cmd/Ctrl and press ] or [. Add in Shift to move a layer right to the top or bottom.

54. Fill shortcuts You can press Alt+Backspace to fill a layer or selection with the Foreground colour, Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace to fill a layer or selection with the Background colour, or Shift+Backspace to quickly access the Fill Options.

55. The 50% grey layer A new layer filled with 50% grey is useful in lots of situations. For example, you can dodge and burn with it, add texture, or manipulate a Lens Flare effect, all in a completely non-destructive way. To create a 50% grey layer, make a new layer then go to Edit>Fill, then set the Blend Mode to Overlay.

56. Layer Group shortcut Layer Groups are incredibly useful, but don’t bother clicking on the Layer Group icon, as you’ll have to add layers to the new group manually. Instead, you should highlight several layers and either drag them to this icon or alternatively hit Cmd/Ctrl+G.

57. Edit multiple type layers

To apply a change of font or size to multiple type layers at once, hold down Cmd/ Ctrl and click the layers in the Layers Panel to highlight them, then simply select the Type tool and change the settings in the Options Bar.

 

58. Layer Mask views

Hold down Alt and click a Layer Mask thumbnail to toggle between a view of the mask and the image. Hold down Shift and click to turn the mask on or off.

 

59. Select similar layers To quickly select all layers of a similar kind, such as shape or type layers, highlight one of them and then go to Select>Similar Layers.

60. Change Opacity When not using a painting tool, you can change layer Opacity simply by pressing a number key. Hit 1 for 10%, 5 for 50%, and 0 for 100%.

61. Quick masking You may be familiar with Color Range in the Select drop-down menu. But did you know that you can access a similar command through the Color Range button in the Masks Panel? (Window>Masks). This allows you to quickly make a mask by sampling colours, which can be used for making a quick spot colour effect.

62. Step-by-step Blend fire effects A: Copy in the fire

Open a portrait image and a generic fire image, then grab the Move tool and check Auto-Select Layer and Show Transform Controls . Drag the fire image into the girl image to copy it in, then change the Blend Mode of the layer to Screen .

 

B: Position and warp

Click the bounding box to transform the fire layer, then resize, rotate and position the layer. Right-click while in Transform mode and choose Warp to wrap the fire around the body. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy the fire layer and transform again to build up the effect.

 

63. Right-click for contextual menus Almost all tools have a contextual menu that’s accessed with a simple right-click. This usually gives you the tool’s major controls and a few handy shortcuts. As well as the tool you have active, where you right-click affects the menu, too. For example, a right-click over a layer thumbnail or mask thumbnail gives different options.

64. Speedy navigationBeing able to quickly and easily move around your image and
zoom in or out will speed up your workflow more than anything else. Use Cmd/Ctrl and to zoom in, Cmd/Ctrl and  to zoom out. Hold the space bar to temporarily access the Hand tool and drag around the image.

65. Crucial selection shortcutsWith any selection tool, hold Shift to add to an existing selection and Alt to subtract from it. Shift+Alt together allows you to intersect selections.

66. Paste in placeCut and paste a selection to a new layer and Photoshop will place it in the middle of the screen. If you want to paste it to a new layer, but keep the position the same, use Cmd/Ctrl+X to cut and Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+V to paste in place. Similarly, you should hold down Shift while dragging layers between documents with the Move tool to keep the same position.

67. Hide the Marching AntsPress Cmd/Ctrl+H to hide or reveal a selection’s ‘marching ants’ line. Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+H does the same for a Path line.

68. The amazing Cmd/Ctrl+clickUse the Cmd/Ctrl+click shortcut on any layer thumbnail, mask thumbnail, Channel or Path to load its shape or contents as a selection.

69. Switch lassoWhen using the Lasso tool, hold Alt then release the mouse
button to temporarily switch to the Polygonal Lasso tool.

70. Fixed Ratio selectionsThe Rectangular Marquee tool has a useful ‘Style’ setting in the Options Bar that lets you make a selection at a fixed ratio or size. This is helpful if you want to select a specific area to use as a wallpaper or for web pages.

71. Transform a selectionYou can transform a selection in just the same way as a layer. Just go to Select>Transform SelectionRight-click to choose from familiar transform modes like Skew and Warp.

72. Pen tool rubber bandIf you're new to the Pen Tool, this is one of the best Photoshop tips out there! As a new user it can be frustrating when plotting anchor points, as often you’re not entirely sure how your next curve will behave. There’s a useful feature hidden in the Options Bar that can be a godsend for beginners. Click the ‘Geometry options’ drop-down (next to Auto Add/Delete) and checkRubber Band. Now, as you use the Pen tool you’ll see an interactive preview of your next curve before you add it.

73. Non-destructive crops

A little-known feature of the Crop tool allows you to hide, rather than delete cropped areas. To do this, you’ll need to make the Background Layer editable first, so double-click it then hit OK. Next, grab the Crop tool and drag a crop window, then instead of applying the crop, check Hide in the Options. Now you can re-crop at any time by dragging outside the window to reveal the previously cropped areas.

 

74. Tweak anchor pointsWhen using the Pen tool, hold down Cmd/Ctrl to temporarily switch to the Direct Selection tool. This lets you move anchor points and control handles.

75. Add a point To add a point, hover over the existing path line and the Pen tool will automatically change to the Add Anchor Point tool.

76. Remove handlesRemove handles from a point and make it into a sharp angle byAlt-clicking over it.

77. From selection to pathTurn any active selection into a path by clicking the ‘Make Workpath from Selection’ icon at the bottom of the Paths Panel.

78. Add handlesAdd handles to a point by holding Alt then dragging outwards from the point.

79. Path optionsOnce you’ve made a path with the Pen tool, right-click for lots of options, including Make Selection, Fill Path and Stroke Path.

80. Magnetic PenFor a magnetic Pen tool that behaves just like the Magnetic Lasso tool, choose the Freeform Pen tool from the Tools Panel then check ‘Magnetic’ in the Options Bar.

81. Step-by-step: Select sky with Channels A: Copy Blue Channel

Go to Window Channel then drag the Blue Channel to the New Channel icon to duplicate it. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+L to access Levels, then drag the white and black point sliders in dramatically to make the sky totally white and the land black. Now use the Brush tool and paint with black to tidy any bits in the land.B: Load a selection

Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click the Blue Copy Channel to load a selection of the white areas. Click back on the RGB Channel then go to the Layers Panel and add a Curves Adjustment Layer. The selection is automatically turned into a mask. Drag down on the curve to darken the sky.

 

82. Try Adobe Eazel For tablet owners, Adobe Eazel is both fun and a serious painting tool. Finger-painted brush strokes have a fluidity that’s difficult to create on a computer. Wireless transmission between tablet and Photoshop streamlines the painting process.

83. Change the brush angle When using a non-circular brush, you may find the need to change the angle of the brush tip. To do this, click the Brush Panel in the Options Bar then highlight Brush Tip shape and drag the circle to change the angle of the brush. You can also flip it horizontally or vertically with the check boxes.

84. Rotate the clone source Clone around corners by rotating a clone source. To do so, useShift+Alt+ < or >. It helps if you have Show Overlay checked in the Clone Source Panel, so that you can see the rotation.

85. Real paint ridges The Bevel and Emboss filter is often used by digital painters to make brush strokes look like ridged layers of paint. Merge a copy of all the layers, then set the Blend Mode to Overlay and apply the Bevel and Emboss filter.

86. Interactive brush settings When using the Brush tool, hold down Alt and the right mouse button for a preview of the Brush tip’s size and hardness. Drag down and up to increase or decrease hardness, and drag right or left to change the size.

87. Tilt Canvas

Photoshop tips don't just come in the form of shortcuts. When painting, it’s often easier to rotate the canvas rather than try to bend your wrist into an uncomfortable position. Just as a sketcher would angle a piece of paper, you can angle your canvas by holding down R then dragging it around. Release Rand you’ll flip back to your original tool. To revert back to normal, hold down R and click Reset View in the options.

 

88. Smudge painting Smudge painting is quick and immensely satisfying. To paint with the Smudge tool, fill a layer with an off-white tone, duplicate the Background Layer and set it at the top of the stack, with Opacity at about 13%, then highlight the Smudge tool, check Sample All Layers, and start painting. It’s that simple.

89. Add texture to paintings

As a finishing touch, you can make your paintings look much more authentic by adding a paper texture. Copy a texture on top of your image, then experiment with Blend Modes and Opacity until you get the right effect. The Darken or Multiply modes will usually provide you with good results.

 

90. Draw straight lines To draw a straight line with the Brush tool, hold down Shift and then click two points.

91. Sample a colour With the Brush tool selected, hold down Alt and click to sample a
colour and then set it as your Foreground colou.

92. Precise paintingPress Caps Lock to switch your cursor to a crosshair.

93. Cycle through the brushes Use , and . to cycle left or right through the brushes in the Brush Preset Picker.

94. Dodge or Burn When painting with the Burn tool, you can hold down Alt to switch instantly to the Dodge tool.

95. Get a pen and tablet If you’re into digital painting, but don’t own a graphics tablet, you’re missing out on a whole new world of creativity. There are plenty of good, entry-level tablets available, but if you want mid-range features that include multi-touch input, treat yourself to a Wacom Intuos 5.

96. Change hardness As you probably know, the ] and [ bracket keys change your brush size, but you can also use Shift+ ] or [ to change the brush hardness.

97. Quick Opacity change When using the Brush tool, press any number between 0 and 9 and the Brush Opacity will set to it. 1 for 10%, 9 for 90%, 0 for 100%. Press Shift and a number to adjust Flow.