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Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

There are lots of keyboard shortcuts built into Adobe Photoshop and there's no way I could list them all here, even if I wanted to. I don't even use most of them, but there are some I couldn't live without. Here's a brief rundown of some of my favorites.

Space bar (Hand tool) – Temporarily selects the hand tool so you can pan around an image that won't completely fit on your screen. When you let go of the space bar you are back to the tool previously selected.

Ctl-+ (Zoom in) and Ctl—(Zoom out) – Zoom your view in and out. This lets you see what you want to see but does not affect your image at all.

Ctl-0 (Zoom to fit) – Zoom your image so it just fits on your screen. Unlike with previous versions of Photoshop, odd zoom percentages won't result in jaggies so this shortcut is now far more useful than it used to be.

Alt-Mouse wheel (Zoom) – This is another great way to zoom in and out that lets you fine tune your view quickly.

B (Brush tool) – I use a brush mainly for fine tuning masks on adjustment layers but you can also use it to paint over image pixels when necessary.

D (Default foreground and background colors) – Simply pressing the D-key will return your default foreground and background colors to white and black.

X (Exchange) – Switch foreground and background colors. If you have these set to black and white, you can use this shortcut to toggle your brush color when painting on a mask.

[ and ] (Decrease and increase brush size) – Press the square bracket keys with one hand while keeping the other on your mouse to easily change the size of your brush. I'm right handed so I wish these keys were on the left side of the keyboard, but I'm still happy to have them available. This also works with the clone stamp, sponge and most everything else that works like a brush.

Shift-[ and Shift-[ (Decrease and increase brush hardness) – These work similarly to [ and ] but change how hard of soft your brush is. Shift-[ makes is softer. Shift-] makes it harder edged. Keep an eye on the Brush tool's option bar to see where you are at.

Caps Lock (Toggle cursor mode) – Pressing the Caps Lock key lets you switch from the default tool cursor to the precision cross-hairs when you need the greater precision. Press Caps Lock again and you're back to the standard tool cursor.

1 through 0 (Change brush opacity) – With the brush tool active, pressing the 1-key will set the opacity to 10%. 2 through 9 will get you 20% up through 90%. Press 0 to get 100%. If you need a percentage that isn't a multiple of 10%, quickly press two number keys in a row. For example, pressing the 1-key immediately followed by the 5-key will set the opacity to 15%.

1 through 0 (Change layer opacity) – If the move tool is active instead of the brush tool, the same keyboard shortcuts as above will adjust the opacity of the current layer.

Ctl-A (Select All) – Selects the entire layer.

Ctl-Shift-I (Invert selection) – Whatever was selected no longer will be and vice versa. This comes in very handy since sometimes it's easier to select what you don't want than what you do.

Ctl-D (Deselect) – Quickly gets rid of your current selection.

Ctl-Alt-Z and Ctl-Shift-Z (History) – The basic Ctl-Z shortcut will undo the most recent update, but that's about it. Press it again and it simply re-does that update. Undo, redo, undo, redo: that's all Ctl-Z will get you. To really get at the History palette contents you'll need Ctl-Alt-Z to step backwards one step at a time or Ctl-Shift-Z to go forward one step at a time.

Ctl-H (Show or Hide Extras) – This handy shortcut lets you hide the "marching ants" selection boundary so you can see the image itself more clearly. Your selection itself remains the same; this just changes whether the boundary gets displayed visually. Press Ctl-H again to show the selection edge again if needed.

Ctrl-Alt-Shift-K (Keyboard Commands) – Opens the keyboard shortcut dialog where you can look up shortcuts you can't remember of create your own if you don't like the ones Adobe came up with.

The listings here are based on the Windows keyboard layout. If you're a Mac OS person, just substitute Cmd for Ctl and Option for Alt. Everything else remains the same.

Date posted: April 12, 2009


Copyright © 2009 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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