20 Essential Photoshop Shortcuts & Tips You Should Know as a Designer

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In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at some of the most time-saving Photoshop shortcuts and tips to speed up our future workflow.

20 Essential Photoshop Shortcuts & Tips

1. Use the Spacebar to Navigate

Let’s start with a simple one! While holding down the Spacebar and clicking and dragging with the left mouse button, you can pan around the canvas. This way, you won’t have to use the red box in the Navigator panel, or the scrollbars around the canvas to move around.

2. Hide Selections and Guides

You can toggle the visibility of all your guides and currently active selections by pressing Ctrl+H (that’s Cmd+H on the Mac). It’s a good way to check your artwork without all the disturbing lines here and there. Press Ctrl+H to toggle them back again.

Note: Using this method does not deselect any selections, just hides them.

3. Undo More, Redo More

You must know that Ctrl+Z (or Cmd+Z) undoes the last step, but did you know that hitting Ctrl+Alt+Z will undo more steps? It can definitely save you a lot of time by not having to hit the Step Backward command in the Edit menu. And it works in reverse by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Z, which will Redo one step. These two must be my most used shortcuts!

4. Rotate Canvas

Rotating the canvas can come very handy for designers using graphic tablets. By hitting the R key and then left-clicking-and-dragging, you can rotate your document on the canvas. You’ll see a compass with the red side pointing upwards, when doing so.

Note: this does not apply any transformations! If you want to rotate stuff, use the Free Transform Tool.


5. Paste in Place

Press Ctrl+Shift+V instead of the normal Ctrl+V command to paste your copied selection in place, e.g. to the exact same position where you copied from. You can not only paste in place in the document you copied from, but in new ones as well.

6. Quickly Open Documents

Did you know that when you have no documents on your canvas, and double-click in the empty area, the Open window appears? Kind of saves only a second, but many a little makes a mickle, so they say!

7. Quickly Close Documents

Pressing Ctrl+W will close the currently active document. Pressing Ctrl+Shift+W will close all open windows. You can also close all documents by Shift+clicking the X’s on the right side of the document tabs.

8. Reset Dialog Boxes

When you open up any dialog box, make some changes but want to revert all of them, we would all click Cancel, and reopen the dialog box.

Let me tell you a secret: if you hold down the Alt key (Option on Mac) while a dialog box is open, the Cancel button will automagically transform into a Reset button. Now, how cool is that?

9. Pro Tips for the Crop Tool

Check out the Options Bar when you’re on the Crop Tool next time, because there are some pretty cool stuff there!

You can choose a constrain from the list under Unconstrained or you can set a custom ratio. This is really helpful when you want to tailor an image for your screen size, or create a square shaped avatar. The circle-shaped arrow reverses the values, and the selection accordingly (Image taken from Photoshop CS6; Photoshop CC has a couple different values).


And there’s one more thing! Check out the cogwheel icon in the Options Bar, where you can find the absolute sweet stuff! I usually pump up the opacity of the Crop Shield, kind of helps me better see what I’m going to crop.

Also, if you don’t want the excess to be deleted, only hidden, then you should uncheck Delete Cropped Pixels!

10. Hide All Except the Selected Layer

You must know that the little eye icon beside the layers toggles their visibility. Here’s a trick: when you Alt+Click the Eye icons (Option+Click for Mac users), all the other layers will be hidden; so that leaves only that one layer visible. Pretty cool trick to learn when you want to see a layer on its own!

11. Finish Editing Text

There are two hotkeys to use when you want to finish editing a text object: the NumEnter key on the numeric keypad, or if you don’t have a numeric keyboard, you can go with Ctrl+Enter (Cmd+Return on the Mac).

12. Change Guide Orientation

Is the ruler bar too far to reach out? Did you go to the horizontal ruler and realized you need a vertical guide instead?

Not a problem! Hold down the Alt (or Option) key on your keyboard while dragging out a Guide, and it will become perpendicular to the ruler bar.

13. Precise Cursors

The Caps Lock key toggles between normal and “precise” cursors. This works with lots of tools, and sometimes it can come helpful. Most of the time I use it with the Eyedropper tool (I). Can you find all the tools it works with?


14. Scrub Values

Use the Left mouse button on certain Labels to scrub the values next to them. Click on the label, and drag left to decrease, right to increase the value. Works pretty well, for example, on the Opacity and Fill labels in the Layers panel.

15. Quickly Change Opacity

Press the number keys on your keyboard to set the Opacity of any drawing tool (Brush, Eraser, etc.) by increments of 10. You can hit the 4 key for 40% opacity, but you can also quickly type 26 for 26% opacity.

When you’re on the Move tool (V), you can set the current Layer’s opacity when hitting the number keys!

16. Quick Switch Between Dodge and Burn

The Alt key is our friend again. Select the Dodge tool to lighten parts of an image, and just hold down the Alt (or Option) key to temporarily switch over to the Burn tool to darken. And vica versa. Pretty awesome for retouching!

17. Change Brush Size and Hardness

Ever heard about the Alt key? Get the Brush tool (B), hold down Alt (or of course Option on the Mac), and while holding the Right mouse button, move the mouse downwards to add, upwards to reduce hardness. Move it to the left to reduce the size of the brush, move it to the right to increase the size.

18. Merge All Layers into One

When you’re working with a lot of layers, sometimes you need to merge all your layers into one, without flattening the whole document. The shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E, (which is Cmd+Opt+Shift+E on the Mac).

This creates a new layer above the currently selected layer, while leaving the other layers intact.

19. Selection Operations


Use the Shift key to Add to the selection, hold down Alt to Subtract from a selection, and use the Shift+Alt keys together to Intersect the selections. Definitely easier than clicking on the above icons all the time!

95% of the time, holding Shift adds to, while holding Alt subtracts from a certain selection or layer.

20. Generate CSS code from Layer Styles

Now this is something you might want to upgrade to Photoshop CC! There’s a feature wen you right click on a layer with layer styles applied that will generate CSS code from those layer styles.

The option is called Copy CSS, which will copy the CSS code to the clipboard.

Take this circle for a basic example.


This is the code Photoshop generates from the layer styles.

.Ellipse_1 {
border-style: solid;
border-width: 3px;
border-color: rgb(143, 21, 45);
border-radius: 50%;
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient( 90deg, rgb(0,0,0) 0%, rgb(255,255,255) 100%);
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient( 90deg, rgb(0,0,0) 0%, rgb(255,255,255) 100%);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient( 90deg, rgb(0,0,0) 0%, rgb(255,255,255) 100%);
box-shadow: 4px 6.928px 7px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5), inset 2px 3.464px 0px 0px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.2);
position: absolute;
left: 40px;
top: 34px;
width: 245px;
height: 245px;
z-index: 2;

Awesome, or awesome?


Thanks for reading through these tips and shortcuts, I hope you’ve learned something new from these.

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Written by

Web designer, web developer, UI/UX designer 9-5. Energy drink consumer, video game addict, avid blogger 5-9. Owner of Szaboka.com.

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