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Keyboard Shortcuts

I cannot stress enough how useful it is to be familiar with the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. By using just a few of these you could make your Photoshop experience so much more pleasurable, to say nothing of faster.

All the tools and all the common menu commands have shortcuts associated with them. Even if a menu command does not have a shortcut, you can assign a shortcut key to it. (See Edit | Keyboard Shortcuts …or you could be really nerdy and use the keyboard shortcut for Keyboard Shortcuts!)

I am not entirely familiar with Mac commands so will refer to the Windows ones here. Nevertheless, you can easily find the shortcuts as each command has the shortcut alongside it, and placing the mouse pointer over each tool should result in a pop-up “hint” telling you its shortcut.

menu shortcutThere are some keyboard shortcuts which are common to all programs conforming to Windows standards (and no doubt to Mac standards). For example, Ctrl C for copy, Ctrl V for paste, Ctrl W for close, and so on. One thing I do quite frequently is to open two versions of the same image and then copy one into the other as a new layer. By holding down the Ctrl key and pressing A then C then W then V, a whole image may be selected, copied, closed, and then pasted into the remaining open image. This can be done in under a second and is so much easier than using a mouse to navigate your way through that sequence of instructions. Of course, you need to make sure the first image is not multi-layered. If it is, you need the “Copy Merged” shortcut which means holding down the Shift key as well for that first shortcut. It all sounds a bit complicated but once you’ve done it a few times, it’s a breeze.

toolbar shortcutThe shortcuts for the tools are very well worth getting to know. Z for zoom is one you’ll use a lot. and C for Crop probably is too. B for brush is one I use constantly with layer masks. The [ and ] keys will make the brush smaller and larger respectively, and the { and } will make the brush softer or harder respectively. The number keys represent specific opacities: 1 = 10%, 2 = 20%, all the way to 9=90% and 0 = 100%. Finally, and really useful when using layer masks, swapping the brush between black and white can be done by pressing X. If you’ve had frustrating moments trying to click on the tiny double-headed arrow icon to do this, that one shortcut on its own will be a blessing!

These are just a few examples of keyboard shortcuts. It is up to you to identify which will be of most use to you. Even if it's just a handful, you will very quickly feeel the benefits.

Finally, please do NOT try to learn lots of shortcuts all at once. You’ll drive yourself insane if you do. Just take note of what things you do frequently and try remembering those first. If you forget them, simply check what they are via the menus or with the mouse-over, and carry on. Once you are using those ones without any hesitation, introduce another. Before you know it, you’ll be using keyboard shortcuts as much as the mouse and your speed in Photoshop will be very much improved.


© David McHutchison (Deemacphotos)
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