Working with Photoshop in the workplace demands speed, precision and creativity. These Photoshop keyboard combos will help you handle creative stress with finesse and improve your workflow. Many Photoshop users already utilize the common keyboard shortcuts that help you grab the tools you want or quickly save a file. These shortcuts are designed to do more than that.
Any Photoshop user can mouse their way through Photoshop’s various complications, but professional users need keyboard combos like these to look and feel like a pro when the heat is on. These combinations will work with Photoshop CS4 and higher on either a MAC or Windows platform. We will also take a look at the most commonly used and easiest to remember keyboard shortcuts, as well as how to create your own, or change the default keyboard shortcuts.
For users who have found difficulty using any of their Photoshop CS4 keyboard shortcuts after installing a Photoshop upgrade, try this link with various solutions to solving the problem.
Deadline crunching combos
In the workplace, most of us work on several files at once, so there are often several windows open in Photoshop. If you work in Mac, you can use QuickKeys to define a Select rear window shortcut and a Second rear window shortcut to quickly toggle to the windows at the bottom of the stack and then to the second window.
From the Define menu, select Specials, Select “Select rear window,” enter your keystroke sequence, such as CMD + Shift + Tab. Select Specials, Select “Select second window,” enter your keystroke sequence, such as CMD + Tab + Tab.
Your keyboard combo for Mac for toggling to rear Window is now: CMD + Shift + Tab.
You can now toggle back to the second window with: CMD + Shift + Tab + Tab.
If you work in the Windows platform, it’s much easier. To Toggle back and forth through windows press Ctrl + Tab and Ctrl + Shift + Tab.
Many times in the workplace you’ll find yourself working within the same size format. Rather than creating a new file from scratch by entering the dimensions, there is a handy keyboard combo that will perform that function for you.
In the file with the dimensions you want to duplicate, press CMD + A, then press CMD + N, then press Enter. Your newly created file will appear on the screen.
The keyboard sequence for Windows is Ctrl + A / Ctrl + N.
Making Layer Cake
Working with layers is easily one of the most complicated tasks in Photoshop because of the multiplicity of layers that may be created for just one effect. To simplify matters, there are a few shortcuts that will make working with layers a cakewalk.
The most handy shortcut for finding a particular layer that is buried in a mountain of layers is Option + Shift + [ / Option + Shift + ].
Windows: Alt + Shift + [ / Alt + Shift + ]
These combos will move you to the top and bottom of your layers stack without having to lift your hands from the keyboard. This allows you to view only one layer at a time, as Photoshop will hide each previous layer as you hop around the stacks of layers. You will save a lot of time by using these keyboard shortcuts rather than clicking around on your Layers palette with your mouse.
Another way to get to the layer you want when you are buried in a distant layer, is to move to the layer you want. Press CMD + V / CMD + Option / CMD + Click.
The Windows shortcut is Ctrl + V / Ctrl + Alt / Ctrl + Click.
You can use a keyboard shortcut to copy all the visible layers in your project. If you use the keyboard shortcut for copy, it will only pick up the pixels for the current layer. To copy all your visible layers, use Copy Merged. Press CMD + Shift + C.
The Windows shortcut is Ctrl + Shift + C.
To prevent your layers from getting out of hand, it is wise to group the layers associated with each aspect of your project. To begin with, you should select the layers you wish to group.
Press CMD + Click on a layer to select the layer. Once you have selected all the layers, group them with CMD + G. You can create a new group with CMD + Shift + G. Give the group a name that matches the design component.
The shortcut for Windows is Ctrl + Click / Ctrl + G / Ctrl + Shift + G.
It’s often convenient to hide groups of layers or many layers at once. Selecting each layer is tedious. It’s much easier to Click + drag until you’ve hidden all the target layers.
Instant Layer and Mask
You can use the Paste Inside and Paste Behind commands to create a layer and mask in one step. On the Background Copy Layer, draw a selection that is shaped like the layer mask you need. Press CMD + Shift + V to paste inside or press CMD + Shift + Option + V to paste behind.
The Keyboard shortcut for Windows is Ctrl + Shift + V / Ctrl + Shift + Alt + V.
Photoshop has been notoriously difficult to work with when adding text to a design. However, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that can make working with text much easier. As a refresher, when you control the leading, you are adjusting the amount of space between the lines of text. In Word, this is referred to as line spacing.
Kerning adjusts the spaces between characters so that the blank spaces between all letters is even.
To adjust the leading on your text, press Option + CMD + down arrow or up arrow + Enter.
To adjust the kerning on your text, press Option + CMD + left arrow or right arrow + Enter.
Window users should press Alt + Ctrl + up or down arrow + Enter / Alt + Ctrl + left or right arrow + Enter.
Instead of opening another layer to change the size of your text, there are a couple of keyboard combos that will allow you to do that in your current window. To increase the size of your font, press Option + CMD + > + Enter. To decrease your font size, press Option + CMD + < + Enter / Alt + Ctrl + < + Enter.
OOPS! – Eraser Magic
To use your eraser tool more efficiently, you can use keyboard commands to select the eraser type you want and control the opacity. Press Shift + E to move through Airbrush, Paintbrush, Pencil and Block Eraser heads. To control opacity, enter a number key. Number keys entered in succession, give finer control.
Flash From the Past
A quicker way to undo your adjustments in Photoshop than deleting layer by layer, is to press Option and select the last edited feature from the Adjust pull down menu. This will open the dialog box with the previous settings.
Fill It In
In case something gets deleted while you are working on it, you can try the Fill command from the Edit menu. This will fill a selection or the entire image with the pixel content from the last saved image.
This trick also works better than the Rubber Stamp or Magic Eraser for areas you can quickly select. This method avoids missed pixels using those tools.
Select + press Shift + Delete.
To fill in an entire image, press Shift + Delete.
Quick, Easy to Remember & Useful Shortcuts
To scroll through the tool selections for each letter, use Shift + the tool shortcut (ie: E selects the Eraser Tool, Shift + E will scroll through Background Eraser and Magic Eraser and back to Eraser). Here are some of the most commonly used tool shortcut letters (in brackets shows the associated tools for that letter)
- B: Brush Tool (Pencil Tool, Color Replacement Tool, Mixer Brush Tool)
- C: Crop Tool (Slice Tool, Slice Select Tool)
- D: Default Foreground/Background Colors
- E: Eraser Tool (Background Eraser Tool, Magic Eraser Tool)
- G: Paint Bucket Tool (Gradient Tool)
- I: Eyedropper Tool (Color Sampler Tool, Ruler Tool, Note Tool, Count Tool)
- L: Lasso Tool (Polygonal Lasso Tool, Magnetic Lasso Tool)
- T: Horizontal Type Tool (Vertical Type Tool, Horizontal Type Mask Tool, Vertical Type Mask Tool)
The following list consists of some more quick, easy to remember and useful keyboard shortcuts:
- CMD + T / Ctrl + T: Free Transform Tool
- CMD + I / Ctrl + I: Invert
- CMD + A / Ctrl + A: Select All
- CMD + X / Ctrl + X: Cut
- CMD + C / Ctrl + C: Copy
- CMD + V / Ctrl + V: Paste
- CMD + N / Ctrl + N: New Document
- CMD + + / Ctrl + +: Zoom In
- CMD + – / Ctrl + -: Zoom Out
- CMD + Backspace / Ctrl + Backspace: Fill with Background Color
- Option + Backspace / Alt + Backspace: Fill with Foreground Color
- [: Decrease Brush size
- ]: Increase Brush size
These are just a selection of some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop, as well as being the easiest to remember.
There are numerous Keyboard Shortcut Sheets available around the internet which are relevant depending on the version of Photoshop you are using. Trevor Morris Photographics have produced a comprehensive keyboard shortcut sheet for each version of Photoshop from PS7 through to CS4
Defining Your Own Shortcuts
Just in case the shortcuts that are built in to Photoshop don’t suit your needs or aren’t enough for your requirements, you can easily create your own or change existing ones.
By default, the keyboard shortcut for creating a new layer is Shift + CMD + N / Shift + Ctrl + N, so let’s say we would like to make it an easier shortcut such as CMD / Ctrl + . (period).
Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts – in the drop-down box, make sure Application Menus is selected, then click on the arrow to expand the Layers list below:
Click to select Layer – the shortcut will be highlighted.
Input your chosen shortcut replacement – in this case CMD / Ctrl + .
Click Accept to confirm the change. If you wish to revert to the default shortcut at any time, simply pull up the keyboard shortcuts menu again, highlight the new layer option and click Use Default.
If you have chosen a shortcut that is already in use, you will be informed that the shortcut will be removed from the default application:
Photoshop keyboard combos can turn your daily routine into a tour de force. These critical keystrokes will become a natural part of your toolbox and Snap! slap down those deadlines.