Have you ever accidentally wasted an entire day in Photoshop?
I have. It’s not like you start out aimlessly. You have a simple goal in mind, like cropping a photo, improving the resolution, or changing the size of the canvas. But then, you look at how many options there are — and trying to figure out which buttons to press to execute a single task suddenly turns into an attempt to solve The Riddle of the Sphinx.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just press a button, and magically, do what you wanted to do? Well, we’ve got good news for you: It turns out there are a wealth of Photoshop shortcuts that pretty much work just that way.
By pressing a few keys on your computer keyboard at the same time, you can select tools, manipulate images and layers, and even make adjustments to your project’s canvas. But if we’re being honest, if you’re just starting out with the software, there might be far too many Photoshop shortcuts to remember them all. That’s why we created this guide — for you to bookmark and return to next time your design project leaves you stumped.
Note: All of these shortcuts can be accessed on PC and Mac, but sometimes, they’re different on each operating system. We’ve included both types below, and in the cases where they might be different, Mac instructions appear in italicized parentheses. Also, in these formulas, the plus sign (+) is present only to represent the combination of key commands. On occasion, it might be part of the command itself, like when you press the plus sign to zoom into a part of an image, but otherwise, don’t press the plus sign between commands.
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You’d think setting up your content in Photoshop would be second nature. But sometimes, the shortcuts to change the background size, or zoom into your project aren’t what you think. Here are some of the most crucial fundamental shortcuts to know:
1) Control + Alt + i (Command + Option + i ) = Change the image size.
2) Control + Alt + c (Command + Option + c ) = Change canvas size.
3) Control + + (Command + + ) = Zoom in.
4) Control + – (Command + – ) = Zoom out.
Control + ‘ (Command + ‘ ) = Show or hide the grid, the automatically-generated horizontal and vertical lines that help align objects to the canvas.
These shortcuts will activate different groups of tools, like “Lasso,” “Brush,” or “Spot Healing Brush.” Within these tools, though, there are different functions. Under the “Magic Wand” tool group, for example, you have the option to execute a new selection or add and subtract from a current one.
Each one of these tools has a keyboard shortcut, and we’ve outlined some of them below.
5) v = Pointer, a.k.a. Move Tool
6) w = Magic Wand
7) m = Rectangular Marquee, a.k.a. the Select Tool
8) l = Lasso
9) i = Eyedropper
10) c = Crop
11) e = Eraser
12) u = Rectangle
13) t = Horizontal Type
14) b = Brush
15) y = History Brush
16) j = Spot Healing Brush
17) g = Gradient
18) a = Path Selection
19) h = Hand
20) r = Rotate View
21) p = Pen
22) s = Clone Stamp
23) o = Dodge
24) z = Zoom Tool
25) d = Default Foreground and Background Colors
26) x = Switch Foreground and Background Colors
27) q = Edit in Quick Mask Mode
28) x = Change Screen Mode
With the brush settings, you can change the size, shape, and transparency of your brush strokes to achieve a number of different visual effects. To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Brush tool by pressing b.
29) , or . = Select previous or next brush style.
30) Shift + , or . = Select first or last brush style used.
31) Caps Lock or Shift + Caps Lock (Caps Lock) = Display precise crosshair for brushes.
32) Shift + Alt + p (Shift + Option + p) = Toggle airbrush option.
When used correctly, the marquee tool will let you select individual elements, entire graphics, and determine what is copied, cut, and pasted into your graphics.
To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Marquee tool by pressing m.
33) Control (Command) = Toggle between Slice tool and Slice Selection tool.
34) Shift + drag = Draw square slice.
35) Alt + drag (Option + drag) = Draw from center outward.
36) Shift + alt + drag (Shift + option + drag) = Draw square slice from center outward.
37) Spacebar + drag = Reposition the slice while creating the slice.
Blending options include a number of features to enhance the look of your graphic. You can always choose a blending option by going to the top menu bar, under Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Or, you can double-click any layer to bring up the options for that particular layer.
Once you open blending options, you can use keyboard shortcuts to select them without moving your mouse. To use the shortcuts, select the Move tool (“v“), and then select the layer you’d like to use the blending options on. Below are some of the most popular modes.
38) Shift + + or – = Cycle through blending modes.
39) Shift + Alt + n (Shift + Option + n) = Normal mode
40) Shift + Alt + i (Shift + Option + i) = Dissolve
41) Shift + Alt + k (Shift + Option + k) = Darken
42) Shift + Alt + g (Shift + Option + g) = Lighten
43) Shift + Alt + m (Shift + Option + m) = Multiply
44) Shift + Alt + o (Shift + Option + o) = Overlay
45) Shift + Alt + u (Shift + Option + u) = Hue
46) Shift + Alt + t (Shift + Option + t) = Saturation
47) Shift + Alt + y (Shift + Option + y) = Luminosity
For more niche blending shortcuts, check out these tips from Adobe.
If you want to modify an object or get complex with multiple layers, here are some shortcuts you might like to know:
48) Control + a (Command + a ) = Select all objects
49) Control + d (Command + d ) = Deselect all objects
50) Shift + Control + i (Shift + Command + i ) = Select the inverse of the selected objects
51) Control + Alt + a (Command + Option + a) = Select all layers
52) Control + Shift + E (Command + Shift + e) = Merge all layers
53) Alt + . (Option + .) = Select top layer
54) Alt + , (Option + ,) = Select bottom layer
Note: In shortcuts 55-57, the brackets ([ ]) are the keystrokes in the command, and “OR” refers to the actual word — as in, press one bracket OR the other, not the letters “o” and “r.”
55) Alt + [ OR ] (Option + [ OR ]) = Select next layer down or up
56) Control + [ OR ] (Command + [ OR ]) = Move target layer down or up
57) Control + Shift + [ OR ] (Command + Shift + [ OR ]) = Move layer to the bottom or top
58) Shift + Control + n (Shift + Command + n) = Create a new layer
59) Control + g (Command + g) = Group selected layers
60) Control + Shift + g (Command + Shift + g) = Ungroup selected layers
61) Control + e (Command + e) = Merge and flatten selected layers
62) Control + Shift + Alt + e (Command + Shift + Option + e) = Combine all layers into a new layer on top of the other layers. Note: This step gets you one, combined layer, with all elements of that layer in separate layers below — which is different than a traditional merge-and-flatten layers command.
63) Control + t (Command + t) = Transform your object, which includes resizing and rotating
Congratulations — you’ve finished working on your project, and now, you want to share it with the world. Save time saving your project by using these simple shortcuts:
64) Control + Shift + s (Command + Shift + s) = Save your work as …
65) Control + Shift + Alt + s (Command + Shift + Option + s) = Save for web and devices
Which Photoshop shortcuts can’t you live without? Let us know in the comments.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.