PhotoShop Shortcuts — the Ultimate Guide
Using PhotoShop? Skip the click, and speed up your work with these shortcuts. The list contains the shortcuts most commonly used by our Community members, but if you’d like to add to this resource, email us.
Yes! There is a quicker way to:
- Access menus when in full screen mode
- Apply Last Used Filter
- Change Blending Modes without using the Layers palette
- Change brushes without using the Brush palette
- Change the background outside an image
- Change the opacity of a brush or layer
- Close the working window
- Copy a layer
- Copy Layer as new image
- Create a clipping path without knowing how to use paths
- Create new Layers without using the Layers palette
- Fill layers or selections without the Paint Bucket
- Free up space on the scratch disk
- Hide palettes and rulers
- Hide the effects of a Mask layer
- Hide the marching ants
- Interact with Layers without using the Layers palette
- Invert a selection
- Invert an image’s colours
- Load channels without using the Channels palette
- Make 2 images the same size
- Make Free Transform appear
- Make layers appear and disappear
- Make selections without using the Magic Wand
- Open an image file
- Paste images into a Layer Mask
- Preserve Transparency
- Sharpen with Blur Tool
- Select All Text
- Turn off Palettes — except Tools
- Use one-keystroke actions
- View image and canvas size
- Working with Images
Access menus when in full screen mode
Press SHIFT + F and the file menu will appear at the top of the screen.
Additionally, notice that in full screen mode, the Tools palette has a tiny addition to it: in the top right corner of the palette is a small arrow. Click this arrow and you can also gain access to the File menu.
Apply Last Used Filter
To apply the last-used filter:
Press CTRL + F
Apply the last-used filter with new settings:
CTRL + ALT + F
Change Blending Modes without using the Layers palette
Select the marquee tool, and you can use these commands:
- Move to the next Blending Mode: ALT + SHIFT + "+"
- Move to the previous Blending Mode: ALT + SHIFT + "-"
- Jump to Dissolve: ALT + SHIFT + I
- Jump to Multiply: ALT + SHIFT + M
- Jump to Screen: ALT + SHIFT + S
- Jump to Overlay: ALT + SHIFT + O
- Jump to Soft Light: ALT + SHIFT + F
- Jump to Hard Light: ALT + SHIFT + H
- Jump to Colour Dodge: ALT + SHIFT + D
- Jump to Colour Burn: ALT + SHIFT + B
- Jump to Darken: ALT + SHIFT + R
- Jump to Lighten: ALT + SHIFT + G
- Jump to Difference: ALT + SHIFT + E
- Jump to Exclusion: ALT + SHIFT + X
- Jump to Hue: ALT + SHIFT + U
- Jump to Saturation: ALT + SHIFT + T
- Jump to Colour: ALT + SHIFT + C
- Jump to Luminosity: ALT + SHIFT + Y
- And of course the most important one…
- Jump to Normal: ALT + SHIFT + N
Note: This works on any tool that offers Blending Modes. Those tools are Airbrush, Paintbrush, Pencil, Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp, History Brush, Gradient, Blur, Sharpen, Smudge, Dodge, Burn, Sponge and the Vector Objects tool.
Also, Adobe has a nasty tendency to change these various shortcuts with each new release. Don’t be surprised if these are slightly different in newer versions of PhotoShop.
Change brushes without using the Brush palette
This is a good one if you’re working in full screen mode, with all the palettes hidden.
To change the brush to the next/previous option, simply use the ‘[' or ']‘ keys.
Build up a comprehensive set of brushes, and save them for future reference.
Change background outside an image
- Select the Paint Bucket tool (G).
- Select the colour you want to change the background to.
- Move your cursor outside the bounds of the image, then press SHIFT + left click.
Change the opacity of a brush or layer
How’s it done? Simply use the number keys. For example, 1 will give you 10% opactiy, while 9 will give you 90% opacity (0 gives you 100%!).
Also, if you type the number quickly, you can get increments, e.g. 56%. This works with brushes, rubber stamp — even layers.
Close a working window
Press CTRL + W
Copy a layer
Hold ALT and click/drag on your canvas.
If you’ve got a selection, then CTRL + ALT and drag (within that selection) will copy and float the contents.
With no selection active, CTRL + ALT and drag will copy the contents of that layer to a new layer and drag it.
Copy Layer as new image
Layer > Duplicate Layer > Document: New
Create a clipping path without knowing how to use paths
- Create two layers, one with a simple shape (a circle, for instance) and one with a picture.
- Place the layer with the picture above the layer with the circle.
- Holding down the ALT button, click the line that separates the two layers. You’ll know you’ve got it right when the cursor changes to a left-facing arrow with two circles.
This tip allows you to create a clipping path based on the lower object’s transparency. This means that if you have an object that’s feathered at the edges, the picture will be feathered as well.
Create new Layers without using the Layers palette
You can do this in a number of ways:
- Press CTRL + SHIFT + N to open the "new layer" dialog box. This will allow you to name the layer at the same time you create it.
- Copy the current layer to a new layer: CTRL + J
- Copy the current layer to a new layer and name the layer: CTRL + ALT + J
- Copy the current selection to a new layer: CTRL + J
- Copy the current selection to a new layer and name the layer: CTRL + ALT
Fill layers or selections without the Paint Bucket
There are several ways to accomplish this:
Through the Fill dialogue box: Press SHIFT + BACKSPACE. This opens the Fill dialog box. You can then choose one of several options including Foreground colour, Background colour, pattern and more.
To fill the area with the foreground colour, press ALT + BACKSPACE.
Fill only non-transparent pixels:
- To fill only the non-transparent pixels of an area with the Foreground colour, press ALT + SHIFT + BACKSPACE.
- To fill only the non-transparent pixels of an area with the Background colour, press CTRL + SHIFT + BACKSPACE.
This includes partially transparent areas, which means that if an object is feathered, the action will fill (partially) the partially transparent pixels. This allows you to keep shadows and feathered items looking identical to the way you originally designed them.
Free up space on the scratch disk
Every PS user out there must have experienced the problem of the scratch disk, so here’s a solution.
PhotoShop isn’t exactly good at handling disk space, and the way to flush the scratch disk is to save more information on it! It sounds silly, but if you create a really small file, say 1×1 pixel and save it as a PSD, then this will pull the chain and flush the scratch, allowing you to save your big file.
Or you can choose EDIT > PURGE > ALL or
EDIT > PURGE > CLIPBOARD
Hide palettes and rulers
Press the TAB key to toggle the palettes between ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’.
Hide the effects of a Mask layer
Hold down the SHIFT button and click the Mask layer icon.
Hide the marching ants
Press CTRL+H (but don’t forget to put it back as soon as you can!)
Interact with Layers without using the Layers palette
There are several ways to do this.
To select a layer without the layers palette:
- Position your mouse over the layer you wish to change to and press CTRL + right mouse button.
- A menu of the layers will be displayed directly underneath the cursor ed.
- Press CTRL + ALT + right mouse button, and the upper-most layer that has an object on it will be selected.
Note, in version 6, transparency (or opacity) lower than around 30% will prevent you from selection a layer with the second option.
To move layers without using the layers palette:
- Move a layer down one level, press CTRL + [
- Move a layer up one level, press CTRL + ]
- Move a layer to the bottom, press CTRL + SHIFT + [
- Move a layer to the top, press CTRL + SHIFT + ]
To select layers without using the layers palette:
- Select a layer down one level, press ALT + [
- Select a layer up one level, press ALT + ]
- Select the bottom layer, press ALT + SHIFT + [
- Select the top layer, press ALT + SHIFT + ]
Invert a selection
Press CTRL + SHIFT + I
Invert an image’s colours
Press CTRL + I
Load Channels without using the Channels palette
To quickly see what channels are available to you, press CTRL and 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. This will display a greyscale version of that colour channel (CTRL + ~ takes you back to the composite channel).
To actually load the selection from a channel, hold down CTRL + ALT + [number].
Make 2 images the same size
- Select one image.
- Then select the Image Size dialogue box from the Image menu as normal. You’ll notice that the Window menu as well as others (dependent on whether you’re using a Mac or a PC) will still be available.
- Select the Window menu and click the name of the second image from the bottom of the menu.
- The dimensions in the Image Size dialogue box will now be identical to the second image.
Make Free Transform appear
Make layers appear
- You can click in the eye and drag down the list, or
- Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) a layer’s eye icon to display only that layer, or
- Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) in the eye column again to redisplay all the layers.
Make selections without the Magic Wand
Select and then CTRL + click the layer that contains the element to automatically surround everything on that layer with marching ants.
An easy way to open an image file
A double-click on the working area (grey area on most users’ copies of PhotoShop) will open the dialog box.
Paste images into a layer mask
On the image to be inserted:
- Hit CTRL + A
- Then press CRTL + C
- Go to the layer where image will be inserted and ALT + click on its Mask
- Then press CTRL + V
- ALT + click on Mask again, to stop viewing the Mask
Also, click on the little link icon between the layer and its mask. You can now move the mask without moving the layer (and vice versa).
Select the layer or layer group and press "/".
CTRL + Q
Sharpen with Blur Tool
Hold down ALT + Left Click and drag
Select All Text
Press CTRL + A
Turn off Palettes — except Tools
Press SHIFT + TAB
F2 – Crop
Create a rectangular selection and press F2. Useful for cropping out "big data": the information outside the bounds of the image that bulks up your file size. Use with caution.
F3 – Stroke
Create a selection of any shape and press F3.
A dialog box opens allowing you to change thickness, colour, location and blending.
This takes the default foreground colour as the initial colour. Careful: this tool uses the last selected painting tool (and brush) as the "brush" with which to create the stroke. This means that it the Pencil tool is the last tool you used, the stroke will be aliased.
F5 – Expand Selection
Create a selection of any shape and press F5.
This opens the Expand dialog box and allows you to enter a value between 1 and 100.
F6 – Contract Selection
Create a selection of any shape and press F6.
This opens the Contract dialog box and allows you to enter a value between 1 and 100.
F7 – Gaussian Blur
Create a selection of any shape and press F7.
This opens the GB dialog box and allows you to enter a value. The default value is 3 pixels.
F8 – Rotate Canvas
Opens the Rotate Canvas dialog box and allows you enter a value, as well as choose clockwise or counter-clockwise.
View image and canvas size
Yes (on the PC): right click on the title bar of an image and you’ll get a series of options including Duplicate, Image Size, Canvas Size, etc.
- Ctrl + Alt + + = zoom in (expanding window size)
- Ctrl + Alt + – = zoom out (shrinking window size)
- Ctrl + + = zoom in (retains window size)
- Ctrl + – = zoom out (retains window size)