Top 10+ Time Saving Photoshop Shortcuts
In a fast paced environment, every second counts. Besides a well organized file, what better way to speed up your work flow than to employ a few time saving principals, in the form of key commands in Photoshop! What may save you 5 seconds per action, will add up to hours of time saving. Think of a key command like a coupon, it takes a little off, but a lot of little cuts can really add up. And if you’ve ever watched Extreme Couponing, then I know you know the value in a “little” savings here and there.
Now, the world of short-cuts can get pretty extensive and the more you learn the better, but today I’m going to narrow in on some basics key commands you’ll want to add to your arsenal. I think you’ll find these help you accomplish your goals faster. Photoshop, like any tool, is only as good as the skills of the person using it, and I like to make Photoshop work for me. The more it gets out of the way, the more it frees me up to do what I do best, design. You’ll see these shortcuts are designed to do just that, get Photoshop out of your way! Note that the following key commands are for Mac. If you are using PC, Cmd = Ctrl and Opt = Alt.
Tip 1: Save for Web with ease
Make a custom Save for Web command. Shift + Opt + Cmd + S is the default short cut, but really!? I’m not going to contort my fingers in odd positions for something that I have to do a million times a day. So, I’ve created a custom short-cut. Did you know you could do that? It’s not too hard. Go to Edit > keyboard shortcuts to create your own custom short-cuts. I changed the Save for Web short cut to be something super simple I can do with my thumb and forefinger easily. Try this: Cmd + , and you can thank me later. Note the comma key super easy to reach with your right pointer.
Tip 2: Create consistent padding
Nudge in 10 pixel increments by using Shift + Arrow. I’ll let you in on a little secret to the path to pixel perfection. Besides working on a grid and using guides, one of the best ways to keep spacing from getting wonky in designs is to use consistent padding. Rather then drag and move objects randomly, create the same amount of space between like objects by using Shift+Arrow to move items. I can’t tell you how often I give items a 20 pixel padding. Shift+Arrow. Twice. Easy.
Tip 3: Get ready for gradient masks
Alright this is sort of three-for-one. Hit D (for default) to set the foreground color to black and background color to white. Not because you need to color objects black or white all the time, but because these are the colors you’ll need to set up gradient masks. (Hit G, to pull up gradients by the way). If you want to reverse the foreground and background, X toggles then nicely. While we’re on the topic of shortcuts for masks, I want to give you a bonus short cut for Illustrator for those times you need a smart object with an illustrator mask. Command + 7 to mask an item, and Opt + Command + 7 to release the mask. Much faster than going through the object menu.
Tip 4: Work in your favorite Screen Mode
Hit F to Cycle Screen Modes. This lets you switch between A. Standard Screen Mode, B. Full-screen Mode with Menu Bar (and a 50% gray background, but no title bar or scroll bars) and C. Full-screen Mode with only a black background (no title bar, menu bar, or scroll bars). I work in option B most often because it’s a clean workspace without distractions that still retains the menu bar, however I’ll work in option A if I’m dealing with multiple psds at a time.
Tip 5: See the canvass as others will see it
Size the view to actual pixels with Cmd + 1. Now and again you may need to zoom in to do some detailed work or alignment, and you’ll need to zoom out to see the whole canvass at times. Snap the view back to view actual pixels, since this is the mode you’ll be working in the majority of the time for web design.
Tip 6: Scale text size fast
Size text up and down in increments. Select the desired text, then Cmd + Shift + > or < to increase / decrease font size. This is a quick way to demo out different sizes rather than entering a number or even worse selecting from the type palette drop down. As a bonus, try Opt + up or down arrow to increase and decrease line spacing.
Tip 7: Switch between multiple psds, browser window groups and tabs, and programs with ease
Toggle open psd documents with Cmd + ~ or Contol + Tab. Cmd + ~ can be used to toggle between browser windows, too actually. (Contol + Tab scrolls you through each individual tab in a browser.) Cmd + Tab will let you switch between your web browser and Photoshop quickly.
Tip 8: Color an item with the background or foreground
Opt + Delete fills with foreground color.
Cmd + Delete fills the layer with background color.
Tip 9: Scale brush size and hardness
With the Brush tool selected, you can increase or decrease the brush size by pressing [ or ] (square bracket key). Shift + [ or ] will decrease or increase brush hardness.
Tip 10: Duplicate a layer
There are a few ways to skin this cat depending on the scenario. (Wait, did I just use a animal cruelty analogy? I’m a cat lover!) Anyhow, a lot of the times I’ll Shift + Opt + drag an item if I happen to be on that layer and the same position isn’t necessary. Sometimes it’s easier to copy a layer by name from the layers palette, and I grab that layer and drag it to the ‘create a new layer’ icon to copy it. That option is good for grouped layers in a folder, or when exact position is desired. Another fast option, if you need to duplicate just one object to the exact same position, is to hit Command + J.
There you have it. My most used frequently used Photoshop shortcuts. If it sounded complicated, don’t worry, in time they’ll become second nature and you’ll be doing them out of muscle memory. There are a ton of Photoshop shortcuts out there if you want to expand your repertoire. Google Photoshop shortcuts or check out Lynda.com for tutorials. You don’t have to memorize ALL the shortcuts, just the ones that you find beneficial to your every day workflow. You’ll know what’s right for you. One way to learn shortcuts is to practice it every day, tackle one at a time! Another method is to create a cheat sheet in which you write them down and keep it by your keyboard for reference. Eventually, you won’t need it. Lastly, don’t be satisfied with the status quo. If a default short cut seems hard to use, create your own!
What are your favorite shortcuts?