Essential Keyboard Shortcuts That Every Photoshop User Should Know

As you can imagine I spend a lot of time in Photoshop. And when you spend as much time in Photoshop as I do, you want to work as fast and efficiently as you can. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of keyboard shortcuts. Knowing keyboard shortcuts is crucial in creating a faster more efficient post-production workflow.

There are a ton of Photoshop keyboard shortcuts. Way too many to cover in one post. However, you don’t need to know every keyboard shortcut that Photoshop offers. The point of this video so show you some commonly used keyboard shortcuts for tools that will help you maximize your workflow in Photoshop. 

Quick Disclaimer: I’m a Mac guy using a PC in this tutorial, so I may interchange the words “control" and “command" as well as “Alt" and "Option.” Please note that when I say “control” (on pc) that means “command" on a Mac and vice versa. If I say “Alt” that means “option” (on pc) on a Mac and vice versa. 

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Move Tools

  • Zoom Tool - Hit the letter “Z” on your keyboard
  • Zoom Out - Hold the Alt/Option key
  • Fit to Screen - Command/Ctrl + 0
  • Hand Tool - Move around the image while zoomed in - Hold the spacebar
  • Rotate Your Image - Hit the letter “R” on your keyboard, then click and drag your mouse
  • Rotate in 15 degree increments - Make sure your rotate tool (R) is selected + hold shift and drag your mouse

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: General Tips & Shortcuts

  • Unlock your background layer - Double click your background layer and hit the “enter” key or simply click on the lock icon on your background layer.
  • Rulers - Command/Ctrl + R
  • Create Guides - Click and drag from the rulers while they are visible. This works both on the vertical and horizontal axis
  • Hide/Show Guides - Command/Ctrl + H
  • Undo - Command/Ctrl + Z (quick tip: use this keyboard shortcut over and over again to toggle your last history state)
  • Multiple Undos - Command/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + Z 
  • Gradient Tool - Hit the letter “G” on your keyboard
  • Gradient Tool with straight gradient - While the gradient tool is selected, hold “Shift” then click and drag
  • Crop Tool - Hit the letter “C” on your keyboard (Quick Tip: make sure to uncheck “Delete cropped pixels”)
  • Access Photoshop Tool subsets - Hold the shift key, then press the keyboard shortcut for the tool you are trying to access. Doing so multiple times will let you toggle between the sets of tools available in any given panel. For example hitting the letter “J” on your keyboard would let you healing brush tool. If you hold the shift key + hit the letter “J” on your keyboard, you will cycle all of the healing brush tool subsets. The helpful shortcut works for all of the tools in the tool panel that have more than one tool available.
  • Quick Tip: Hover of the tools panel to reveal the keyboard shortcut for the tool your hovering over

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Brush Tool

  • Brush - Hit the letter “B” on your keyboard
  • Make brush tool bigger - Hit the ] key on your keyboard (right bracket key)
  • Make brush tool smaller - Hit the [  key on your keyboard (left bracket key)
  • Brush Resize (PC) - Right Click + Alt + Drag left or right
  • Brush Softness (PC) - Right Click + Alt + Drag up or down
  • Brush Resize (Mac) - Command + Option + Drag left or right
  • Brush Softness (Mac) - Command + Option + Drag up or down
  • Brush settings - Simply right click while you have the brush tool selected. Hit the “enter” key to exit this panel
  • Sample colors while using the brush tool - Hold the Option/Alt key to temporarily switch to the eye dropper tool

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Color

  • Eyedropper Tool - Hit the letter “I” on your keyboard
  • Toggle Foreground/Background Color - Hit the letter “X” key on your keyboard
  • Default Colors - Hit the letter “D” on your keyboard

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Selection Tools

  • Magic Wand Tool - Hit the letter “W” on your keyboard
  • Add to Selection - Hold Shift key while using a selection tool
  • Marquee Selection Tool - Hit the letter “M” on your keyboard
  • Deselect - Command/Ctrl + D
  • Lasso Tool - Hit the letter “L” on your keyboard
  • Pen Tool - Hit the letter “P” on your keyboard
  • Load Pen Path Selection - Once you have a closed path, hit Command/Ctrl + Enter to load the selection
  • Create Bezier Curve - With the pen tool selected (letter P) click to add an anchor point, then click and drag to add another 

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Retouching Tools

  • Healing Brush Tool - Hit the letter “J” on your keyboard
  • Toggle between Healing Brush Subsets - Hold Shift + hit the letter “J” on your keyboard
  • Healing Brush sample point - Hold Option/Alt, then click to choose a sample point
  • Clone Stamp Tool - Hit the letter “S” on your keyboard
  • Clone Stamp Tool sample point - Hold Option/Alt, then click to choose a sample point

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts: Transform Tools

  • Free Transform - Command/Ctrl + T 
  • Scale Proportionately - Hold the “Shift” key when you’re in the free transform mode
  • Scale from the center point of the image - Hold Shift + Option/Alt

Conclusion

I know there are a ton of tips, tricks, and keyboard shortcuts listed in this video. But don’t get overwhelmed. I’ve been using Photoshop for over 17 years and have had a lot of practice during that time. The main takeaway here is to familiarize yourself with keyboard shortcuts and start incorporating them into your workflow. The best advice that I can give you is to be cognizant of the things you do every time you're using Photoshop, then find the keyboard shortcuts that corresponds with those tools. You’ll be speeding up your post-production workflow in no time!

Full Tutorial

Fstoppers and I plan on collaborating on a larger tutorial project on commercial product photography and post processing. If you'd like to stay updated on this project, add your info to the subscription link below. 

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8 Comments

Great post. I'm embarrassed to say I knew about 10% of these.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks man!

Lee Christiansen's picture

I'm feeling pretty chuffed. I knew most of these. Ha - one day I might almost be professional...

Good to see a few I could learn.

Oleh Brevus's picture

It is also usefull to know that to change brush opacity with brush selected you can simply press for example 60 and you'll get 60% opacity and if you press SHIFT + "10" you get 10% brush flow, etc.

Dean Courtois's picture

Two more useful ones:

Clip to Layer Below: Crtl+Alt+G/Cmd+Option+G
Stamp Visible: Crtl+Alt+Shift+E/Cmd+Option+Shift+E

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks for the additional shortcuts Dean! I actually use both of these all the time. Cheers!

David Rimbach's picture

Thanks man! Just when I thought I kinda knew them all! Just got 4 more now and I love them already!

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Awesome, that's great to hear! Thanks for checking out the video man