Photoshop Tips and Tricks for the Novice and Professional

Photoshop free tips and tricks to enhance your design skills. Whether you are a novice or professional, we are sure you will find this Photoshop article very helpful.

TITLE : Quickly Select A Layer Without Accessing the Layer Palette
VERSION : Photoshop CS on WinXP Pro
TIP/TRICK : With the document focused, you can hold down CTRL and RIGHT CLICK on the document in order to bring up a list of layers which contain content in the area selected. You can then select that layer from the context menu to automatically focus the layer palette to that layer.

You can optionally ALT and RIGHT CLICK instread to bypass the context menu and automatically focus the top-most layer which contains content in the area you clicked on.

TITLE : Automatically Name A New Layer
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you hold down ALT while you drag a layer in the layer palette to the CREATE NEW LAYER button, a dialogue window will open, prompting you for the name of the layer. This keeps you from having to double click the name of the default new layer and re-typing it in.

TITLE : Quickly Create a Clipping Layer
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you move your cursor in between 2 layers on the layer’s palette, and then ALT + CLICK, it will function as a toggle to create a clipping mask of the adjacent layers.

TITLE : Quickly Adjust the Kerning (Space Between Letters) of Text
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : On a text layer, select the entire contents of the text and then press ALT + LEFT/RIGHT ARROW to INCREASE/DECREASE the Kerning by 1. Optionally, you can press ALT + SHIFT + LEFT/RIGHT ARROW to INCREASE/DECREASE the Kerning by 10.

VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you select the MEASURE TOOL, you can draw out a line with it along any imaginary (or actual) line in the photo that you know should be either straight up or straight down. After you’ve made this line along this edge, goto IMAGE > ROTATE CANVAS > ARBITRARY and Photoshop will automatically populate the rotate value with the amount needed to rotate the image to a perfect horizontal or vertical which is parallel to the line you drew. In effect, this will “straighten” your image.

TITLE : Automatically Link Layers without accessing the Layer Palette
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you have the MOVE TOOL selected and CTRL + SHIFT CLICK on layers which contain content, you will automatically link that layer with the currently selected one.

TITLE : Quickly resize image to fit the window
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To quickly resize your image to fit the available space Photoshop is using, simply double-click the HAND TOOL.

TITLE : Quickly access the MOVE TOOL
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : During many times (but not all), you can quickly access the MOVE TOOL by simply holding down CTRL.

TITLE : Quickly access the HAND TOOL
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : During many times (but not all), you can quickly access the HAND TOOL by holding down the SPACE BAR. This is exceptionally helpful when you are using the F key in order to view in different screen modes.

TITLE : Quickly change the master opacity
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Many times, as long as you have no other inputs focused, and the layer is simply focused, you can press 0 – 9 in order to change the current layer’s opacity from 10% (1) to 100% (0). If you press 2 number successively, you can set the layer’s exact opacity. ie, “4” then “2” will set the layer opacity to 42%.

TITLE : Re-Use the last values in dialogue boxes
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Many times if you’ve performed an action in order to get an effect, you can use the values that were last supplied by going to that same menu through the menu at the top of Photoshop, but by holding the ALT key down before selecting the first menu option.

TITLE : Reset the changes you made
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you want to reset the values in a dialogue box you have altered but have not yet pressed OK, you can hold down ALT and the CANCEL button will temporarily turn into a RESET button.

TITLE : Constrain object movement
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : With the MOVE TOOL selected, you can constrain objects to 90 degree movement by depressing the SHIFT key.

TITLE : Perform nudges on objects
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : With the MOVE TOOL selected, you can nudge objects by pressing the ARROW KEYS. If you hold SHIFT and press an ARROW KEY, you can nudge the object by 10 pixels at a time.

TITLE : Quickly select a custom color
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : in the custom color palate, type in the number/word name of the color to go directly to it.

TITLE : Scroll around quickly at huge magnifications
VERSION : I’ve been using this since PS5
TIP/TRICK : This is particularly good for scrolling around in full screen mode (hit F a couple of times) I use it a lot when spotting with the clone tool at very large magnifications in full screen mode with the whole screen devoid of any clutter. You can find a dead pixel easily in the biggest of images. Works just as well in a small window as full screen.

What is good about it is that it moves the image in whole screen/window sized chunks that butt up to each other so you can scan a whole print methodically for spots.

The “page up” and page down” keys do just what they say on the box.
To move left and right hold down Command/Control+”page down” to scroll right and Command/Control+”page up” to move left. The “home” key takes you to the top left corner.

TITLE : Constrain Selection Dimensions
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : When Using the marquee tool hold shift to select a perfect square or circle. Pressing Alt will allow you to draw a selection from the inside (center) out.

TITLE : Quickly Center an object
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To center any object in the middle of the image. Press ctrl+a to select the canvas of the layer (with the to be centered object). Press ctrl+x to cut the content. Press ctrl+v to paste the content back again perfectly centered.

TITLE : Selecting visible with marquee
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To move (using the marquee tool) only the part of the selection (so not the object itself) that is visible on the layer press ctrl+alt and move your selection after placing a(ny) selection around it.

TITLE : Merging (multiple) layers
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To merge one layer with the layer underneath press ctrl+e to merge down. To merge multiple layers, link them together and press ctrl+e to merge linked. To merge all visible layers, press ctrl+shift+e.

TITLE : Easy image navigation using scroll wheel
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To navigate an image in all directions using your mouses scroll wheel.
-vertical movement: just use the scroll wheel
-horizontal movement: use the scroll wheel while holding ctrl
-zooming in/out: use the scroll wheel while holding alt
This works with every tool.

TITLE : Invert (selection)
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To invert the colors of a selection or layer, press ctrl+i. To invert a selection, press ctrl+shift+i.

TITLE : Quickly adjust the color of an object or selection
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Press ctrl+u and check the colorize box. Adjust the hue handle to adjust the color, the lightness handle and saturation handle can be adjusted to control those variables. (note that to colorize a black object you should make it lighter and to colorize a white object you should make it darker by adjusting the lightness handle in the correct direction).

TITLE : Selecting visible and copying layer masks
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To select the visible part of any layer hold ctrl and click on that layer. To convert this selection into a mask press the add layer mask button (in the bottom of your layer palette). To copy a layer mask, ctrl click on the layer mask, go to the layer you want masked and press the add layer mask button.

(For optimum effeciency use it in combination with the invert selection tip.)

Use ctrl+alt and click a layer to substract that layers visibility from your selection. Use ctrl+shift and click a layer to add that layers visibility to your selection.

TITLE : Repeat transformation
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : After having transformed an object by using ctrl+t you can repeat the last transformation (on any object) by pressing ctrl+shift+t. To keep the original object the way it is and transform a copy of the object press ctrl+shift+alt+t (particularily handy to create certain text effects). (This option is also exceptionally usefull when creating a rotating image in Image ready).

TITLE : Quickly set view ratio to 1:1
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : To quickly view your image at a 1:1 ratio, double click the ZOOM TOOL icon on the TOOL PALETTE.

TITLE : Additional plug-ins folder
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : Go to edit/preferences and check the box ‘additional plug-ins folder’ and select a folder.

TITLE : Transparent Mask
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : While working with a mask press the \ key to work with a transparent mask, kinda like the quick mask. Press \ again to return to the regular mask.

TITLE : Edit mask inside document window
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : If you want a larger preview of your mask; ALT + Click on the mask and you’ll be able to edit the mask in the document window.

TITLE : Change color of gray background around document window
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Select a foreground color, select the paint bucket tool (G) and now click on the gray background while holding down the shift key.

TITLE : Easy duplicate
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : We can duplicate an image by going to image/duplicate, but a quicker way is to right click the top of you document window. A window will pop up in which you can select ‘duplicate’.

TITLE : Photoshop behaving odd (resetting preference file)
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : We can delete the preference file by holding down Ctrl+Shift+Alt when we start Photoshop. Be aware that all your previous Photoshop settings and preferences will be lost.

TITLE : Saving image to the WEB
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Go to ‘edit/color settings’ and make sure that you have selected ‘Web Graphics Default’ and SRGB, otherwise your image might look too dark.

TITLE : Difference between MAC & Windows shortcuts
VERSION : Mac & Windows versions of Photoshop
TIP/TRICK : Not actually a trick, but important to know (especially in a thread like this)

PC MAC
Alt Option
Ctrl Command
Right Click Control

TITLE : Closing all documents with one mouse click
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : Hold down the Shift key and click on the close button of any open Document window; this will close all other documents too.

TITLE : Merge all visible layers
VERSION : Photoshop CS
TIP/TRICK : Sometimes you want to merge all visible layers (what you’re actually seeing in your document window) on a new layer; create a new layer and then press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E (Windows) or Command+Ctrl+Shift+E (MAC)

TITLE : Making screenshots and marking areas
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK :

Screenshots: Press the PrintScreen key on your keyboard to make a screenshot. Create a new document and you’ll notice that it’s automatically set to the resolution of your screen. Go to edit/paste or press Ctrl+V to paste the screenshot.
Press ALT+PrintScreen to make a copy of the active window only. Be aware; sometimes Windows will copy the complete screen when you think you’ve selected only a single window. A good example is the layers palette. In case you want to make a screenshot of the layers palette only; make sure that you click on one of the tabs first, otherwise you might end up with a full screenshot instead of a one of the layers palette only.

Save screenshots of menus in GIF 32 colors to save bandwidth, unless you have an image that contains a document window with pixel data.

Marking
Select the area that you want to mark with one of the selection tools. Now go to edit/stroke, select a width of 2, color red (or any other color, I prefer red) and click OK.

TITLE : Altering your current selection
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you want to ADD TO YOUR SELECTION, hold SHIFT and create another selection. If you want to SUBTRACT FROM YOUR SELECTION, hold ALT and create another selection.

TITLE : Quickly select EYEDROPPER from Painting tools
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : When you have many painting tools selected (such as the BRUSH and FILL BUCKET, you can temporarily change to the EYEDROPPER by holding down the ALT key.

TITLE : Merlin the Magician (Easter Egg/Trick)
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you want to see Merlin the magician, a little easter egg the Adobe team put into PS:CS, then goto the LAYER PALETTE and hold ALT which clicking on the small arrow located at the top right of the palette. With ALT still held, choose the bottommost option (LAYER OPTIONS…). Now Begone!

TITLE : Understanding your menu options
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Little known fact, but any command listed in Photoshop’s menu’s that ends with (…) will bring up a dialogue window. Commands without it will not. ie, “Save As…”, “Inverse”

TITLE : Quickly get Black/White as Fore/Background Colors
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Press D (by default) to reset your current foreground and background color to black and white. This is especially useful when you want to edit a mask. You can use the X key to swap the colors of the foreground and background.

TITLE : Quickly remove a layer from a linked set
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you ALT + CLICK on the Brush icon next to the eyeball on the layer which is currently part of a linked set of layers, it will remove it from that link set.

TITLE : Determine multiple measurements
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : After creating a line with the RULER TOOL, you can hold ALT and drag from either end of the first line to create a second one that is attached to the first. This line’s information, as well as the angle it is in contrast to the first line, will be displayed in the INFORMATION PALETTE.

TITLE : Delete Multiple Layers at one time
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Link the layers you want to be delted, and simply hold CTRL + ALT + Click the DELETE LAYER icon to remove them all without prompt.

TITLE : Quickly maximize File Browser
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : If you notice, there is an icon to the left of the palette well which, when clicked on, will open the File Browser. If you want to automatically open the File Browser maximized, hold CTRL when you click the button.

TITLE : Quickly Flag/Unflag files in the File Browser
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : You can quickly mark (or toggle and unmark) files for flagging in the file browser by pressing CTRL + ‘ (apostrophe).

TITLE : Sample color outside document window
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK :
There are situations that you want to sample a color that is outside your document window or even outside Photoshop.

Select the eyedropper tool (I) and click inside the document window but hold down the mouse button. The move your eye dropper tool to any area of your screen and release the mouse button when you want to sample a particlar color. Of course you have to make sure that the object which color you want to sample is visible before you start sampling.

TITLE : Fast switching between burn and dodge tool
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK :
You can quicky switch between burn and dodge tool by holding down the Alt key (or option key on the Mac). It doesn’t matter which of the two, dodge or burn tool, is active.

TITLE : Understanding Mask Icon Colors
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Little known fact, but when you have a layer which has a mask, you can quickly determine the mask type (Vector vs Raster) by looking at the darkest color of the Layer’s Mask “Preview”. If it is pure black, the mask is RASTER. If it is a lighter mid-tone gray, then it is a vector mask.

TITLE : Altering the CURVES viewing options
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : With the CURVES dialogue window up, you can ALT + CLICK in the grid to change it from a default 4×4 grid to a 10×10 grid. Don’t forget the icon in the bottom right of the window is used to increase the dialogue size.

TITLE : Tip for CURVES adjustments
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : As a general rule of thumb, the steeper you make the curve, the more contrast, and the more flat you make the curve, the less contrast there’ll be. In color based curve adjustments, steeper curves increase saturation, while flat line curves decrease color saturation.

TITLE : Quickly fill with FORE/BACKGROUND Color
VERSION : Photoshop CS on Windows XP
TIP/TRICK : Pressing ALT + DELTE will fill with the Foreground color, while pressing CTRL + DELETE fill will with the Background color.

Multiple color modes in one document
Photoshop CS 2.
With the great thing Smart Object you can hold a pictures in any color mode in one document. It’s very useful when you are in CMYK mode, because some of filters don’t work on composite CMYK channel and some filters don’t work on separation channel too – like Lens Flare or Lighting Effects. Instead of working in Proof Colors mode this method combined benefits of RGB (or Lab) with its wide editing ability and pure CMYK colors like 100% black for tiny text and drop shadows and color trapping also.

Clipping masks and Smart Objects
Photoshop CS2

As you know clipping masks disappears when creating Smart Object. There is workaround to resolve it: save selected layers (sets) in a psd file and then place one to current document: File > Place…

At that way smart object will have canvas size by its original document size.

Want to try all the blend modes on a layer quickly?
Both mac and peecee – All versions after 5

Hold down SHIFT and press the + and – keys to toggle all the modes in sequence

Curves – to place multiple points on color channels
Mac and peecee. All versions

To put a point on each curve corresponding to the point in the image where you click – hold down Shift/Control while clicking in the image area. Adding shift places a point on the curve for each channel rather than a single point on a single curve. This is useful for “anchoring” areas of the image that you dont want to change, allowing you to then alter each color channel to make very localised adjustments. The mac shortcut is Command/Shift

Shortcut – View a layer mask as a greyscale channel
Mac – not sure what the PC shortcut for this is sorry

Its already been pointed out that the backslash key allows you to view your layer mask as a “quick mask” rubylith…. follow this with the tilde ~ key and the mask will now display as a greyscale channel, obscuring the image completely. This is useful for very accurate masking where precise work is needed.

Luminosity – the best tool in my box
Mac and PC – any version in the last 10 years

This is a golden color correction tip. First change the blend mode of your Curves layer to Luminosity – in this way you can alter the weights of items within your image without affecting the color cast . You can even do amazingly powerful tonal enhancement by selecting your color channels separately enhancing the contrast on each curve in the areas where it needs it most. Boosting the channels separately in this way, still wont affect (much) the color balance.

Now make another curve with the blend mode set to “Color” – this will allow you to change color values only and will not affect (too much) the weight of items in your image.

These techniques allow you to view color and tone seperately – making controlling the true quality of a print much easier. More can be achieved this way than with a “Normal” Curve alone. Only one warning – watch your blues because in CMYK Luminosity blend does cause these to shift slightly

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