45 Exceptionally Useful Photoshop Shortcuts

by Brant Wilson

on May 3, 2013

in design

Shortcut Commands for Photoshop

Photographers use Photoshop to edit their photos but this software can be a bit time consuming especially for beginners. There are different tools you can use with Photoshop and switching from 1 tool with the next one is what would consume most of your time. Here are 45 exceptionally useful Photoshop shortcuts that will bypass all those mouse clicks you need to switch tools and it will make photo editing a lot more convenient for you. There are many shortcuts out there and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. You won’t be able to memorize all of them. If you want, you can make a chart so you can easily remember what the shortcuts to use to execute what you desire. Choose your favorites and try to memorize them.

Beginners may be overwhelmed with the complexity of Photoshop but with practice you will eventually learn how to control and finally properly edit your photos with this wonderful program that is also used by professionals. You can transform an ordinary photo into an exceptional one with the help of this program but it takes a lot of skills to create such art. Slowly learn your way around the program by trying out the different tools and see what they’re used for and how they can transform your photos.  What users normally notice is that there are a number of menu items and buttons to click and open then click again for the execution you want and that can really be time consuming. These tools are there for a reason and because Photoshop is very complex and comprehensive photo editing software, it has a lot of executions and tools available. If you don’t want to waste your time finding your way through all these buttons then these shortcuts will surely help you out.

So, what are these shortcuts and how do they work?  These shortcuts are actually keyboard commands that are already set in the software itself. The program understands these commands and automatically gives you the execution you want. By pressing just a few keys you are bypassing your way from making all those tool changes and adjustments. If your right hand is doing all the mouse clicks, if you rely only on clicking your mouse to open up another tool, that is a waste of time. Remember that you still have your left hand and the keyboard is also a useful accessory that needs to be used to make these bypass. With your right hand doing the mouse clicks, your left hand will be doing all the shortcuts you need.

The most commonly used shortcuts

These shortcuts are the ones that users most often use. They are easy to remember and they are also used quite commonly because of the demands for such tools and executions when you are working on Photoshop. These shortcuts are best remembered by heart because you’d be using them quite a lot. You will be surprised at how easy it is to operate Photoshop once you memorize all these commonly used shortcuts.

At first, you would make some mistakes but that is all right. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it. Just keep on trying them out and soon enough you do not even need to think and your fingers will already start clicking.

  • Ctrl+Z is for undoing your previous action and is one of the most commonly used shortcuts in Photoshop. If you did an action that is undesirable to your editing and you want to undo your previous action then you just have to hit Ctrl+Z and continue on with your work.
  • Ctrl+ will zoom in so you can see the photo a lot better on a spot that you want. Just hit Ctrl+ and click on the desired spot to zoom in there.
  • Ctrl- will zoom out. If you are done zooming in and working on the photo in a large view then you can hit ctrl- and it will zoom out again. Keep pressing it until you reach the desired size.
  • Z is the shortcut used for zooming in. If you prefer to just press Z instead of hitting Ctrl+ then you can easily do that but with Ctrl+ you can continue zooming in to your desired size.
  • X will switch the colors of your background and the foreground.
  • D will switch the background and foreground colors with black & white.
  • Ctrl+0 fits the entire photo on the screen.
  • H is the shortcut that will bring the hand tool into view. While the hand tool is on screen you can simply press the Ctrl key and it will zoom to a particular area you want. This shortcut is one of the most common shortcuts used because you would most often need the hand tool to do your work in Photoshop.
  • B is another quick shortcut that will open the Brush Tool. If you need to do some brush execution to the photo for editing then you would need the Brush tool. With this shortcut you just need to press the letter B on your keyboard and it’s there. It’s really a time saver.
  • Tab is another shortcut that lets you hide the palettes so you can use your screen more for the photo you want to edit. Press the tab again and it will show up the palettes.
  • [ is the command that decreases the brush size while the ] does the opposite as it increases the brush size. Brushing on your photo requires the right sized brush to make the effect desirable. You can simply play around with the brush size at first if you’re still unsure of what sized brush you want to use. You can simply undo the previous action by pressing Ctrl+Z and trying another brush size until finally you are happy with the look you achieved.
  • Spacebar will bring up temporarily the hand tool for added convenience. Just simply press the spacebar and you can see the hand tool. If you want to get rid of it again then press the space bar once more.

Useful Shortcuts- Intermediate Level

These are shortcuts that may be a bit hard to remember at first but once you get to use them more often, you will be able to remember them by heart. Not all of these shortcuts are used often but they are very handy in cases that you may need to use them to save you time and spare you from the difficulty of figuring out where to click through the tools just to give you the same execution.

A great tip though is to get these commands printed on paper and post it somewhere that is easily readable and ready for you when you are working on Photoshop. Even when you find it hard to memorize these commands, if they are right in front of you then you’d still be saving yourself the time and effort than opening the executions following the long route.  The goal here is for you to save time and stop stressing about finding your way through tools. Editing photos can get a bit stressful on its own especially if it needs to be flawless so save yourself the stress from all those tools and focus more on the job at hand.

  • Ctl+Shift+N is the short cut for placing a new layer.  You may be familiar with the Ctrl+N shortcut already that is used not just for Photoshop but in any other programs. What makes this different is the addition of the shift key and that prompts the program that what you want is to place the new layer on top of the old.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N will create a new layer without the dialog box. Now adding the alt to the shortcut removes the dialog box. Many prefer this shortcut because they don’t want the dialog box to be there as it consumes screen space.
  • Ctl+shift+C is a copy command with merging.Ctrl+Cis the common command used for copying anything on your screen even when you are not using Photoshop. By adding the shift into the shortcut you are adding the merging feature to the command.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E acts like Ctrl+shift+C but places what you copied right onto the new layer. Give this a try so you can understand what’s the difference between Ctrl+shift+C and this one.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K will give you the dialog with all the shortcut commands on keyboard. Of all the commands that you need to remember, this is the one. In case you can’t remember all the shortcut commands listed here you can simply press this shortcut and you will get a list of all these 45 shortcuts and many more that you can use with Photoshop.
  • Ctrl+Tab is used to switch the focus from 1 point to another while you use the tool for curves adjustment.
  • 1->0 is a shortcut to adjust the opacity of your brush from 10% to 100%. If you press 1, that will give you 10% opacity, pressing 3 will give 30%, 4 gives you 40% and so on.
  • Shift+1->0 is the shortcut for the tool flow.
  • Shift + [ will decrease the brush softness by 25% and Shift + ] will increase the brush softness by 25%. If 25% increase is still not enough, just continue to press the shift+[ to add another 25%. The same applies to the shift+] to reduce the softness by 25% until you reach the softness that you like.
  • F will switch the screen from normal to full screen without the title bar but with the task bar.  This is actually very easy to remember but not one of the most commonly used shortcuts by Photoshop users.
  • F+Tab will switch the screen mode while hiding the toolbars so you get maximum space for your work. The addition of tab to the shortcut is what hides the toolbar so you can work more on the photo without having to give space to the toolbar.
  • Alt+scroll your mouse up or down will zoom in or out as well. This is another great and easy way to start zooming in and out of the photo. Just make sure you own a mouse that has the scroller for this shortcut to work. If you don’t have then you can simply do the ctrl+ and ctrl- shortcuts on your keyboard.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Z is like the Ctrl+Z for deleting the last command but will continue to delete as you move down to the history of your actions.
  • Ctrl+S is going to save your work. Make sure you do this every few seconds or so just to be on the safe side. There are times that Photoshop would be interrupted for different reasons. Perhaps it will hang up or power will be interrupted. If this happens and you didn’t save your work you would have to start all over again. If saving it by pressing the save icon in Photoshop seems time consuming for you. You should make it a habit to simply press Ctrl+S.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N will add a new blank layer on top of the working layer you opened without adding the dialog.
  • Alt+Click Mask is going to show the grayscale of the mask to show you what you’re working on.
  • Shift+Click Mask will let you enable or disable the layer mask so you can see the difference between the mask from the original photo.
  • Ctrl+Click Mask lets you load a mask you selected
  • Ctrl+J will copy the active layer and create a new layer and copy the selection.
  • Caps Lock will toggle the cross hairs and the standard tools.
  • Shift+Backspace is going to fill up the dialog.
  • Ctrl+Backspace will fill the mask with the background color. You can edit the background color first to your liking before you use it to fill your mask.
  • Alt+Backspace is going to fill the mask with the foreground color. You can edit the foreground color first to your liking before you fill your mask with it.
  • Ctrl+H is going to hide the selection lines while you are making your selections.
  • Ctrl+I is going to choose the opposite of your selection.
  • Ctrl+D is what you press after you make a selection if you want to discard that selection.
  • Ctrl+G will be grouping your selected layers
  • Ctrl+Shift+G is going to ungroup the layers you selected and grouped.
  • Ctrl+A Will select all on the canvas. This is a very useful shortcut and is quite easy to remember.
  • Ctrl+T is going to execute the tool for free transform.
  • Ctrl+E will be merging the layer you selected with that just below it.
  • Ctrl+Shift+E is going to merge all the visible layers to just one layer.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del is going to turn off the Photoshop program just make sure you safe the program first by making the Ctrl+S execution. This is the shortcut you want to use when the program hanged or does not want to close right away because of a problem. With this shortcut it will turn it off and you can open the Photoshop program again or simply reboot your computer.

Conclusion

These shortcuts are going to make you save time on toggling windows and tools in Photoshop so you can focus more on actually doing the job. You may not memorize all these shortcuts but the more you use them, especially the ones you use the most, you will remember them by heart. There are many other useful shortcuts that you can use with the Photoshop software but these 45 ones listed above are the most useful execution shortcuts around.  It’s great to memorize them all if possible but most likely you wouldn’t be able to memorize all of them.

Still, just knowing that these shortcuts exist will surely help you save your time and energy when you are using the Photoshop program for editing images. Try different ways to help you recall these shortcuts. Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K is most definitely the most important shortcut as it gives you the list of all the shortcut commands you need to use.  You can even create your own list of Photoshop shortcuts that are the most useful to you.  You may not end up using all these 45 commands but you’ll surely be able to use at least 10 of these commands while you’re working with Photoshop. Create your own list and try to memorize them if possible. If not, list them down and just re-read them when you are in need of shortcuts. Eventually, with the more times you get to use them, your mind will just remember them.

Photographers and editors alike just can’t get enough of Photoshop. It’s what makes their work even more amazing and it’s really worth it to invest your time in trying to master working with the software. These shortcuts may seem so simple but they were programmed into the system to give its users the ease of use they need to improve their performance even more. By focusing more on the actual editing of the photographs you will be getting a much better result at the same time you’d spend with it than you would if these shortcuts are not available.

Powered by Shutterstock

About Brant Wilson

Brant Wilson is a staff writer for the DesignMag network. Brant enjoys all things design and development, dogs, and candy. Brant is passionate about training freelancers. Learn how how you can earn $125+ per hour freelancing. Start learning for free now! Connect with Brant on google+