Photoshop Cheatsheets & Our Must Know Shortcuts

It took me years to really understand the full power of shortcuts in Photoshop. For me, as long as I could do what I wanted to do then it don’t matter if I had to go to the menu to select a tool. As long as it gets the job done right? Wrong! Trying to use photoshop without shortcuts is like trying to eat soup with a fork. Not happening!

Main Toolbar

Before you know any other shortcuts, you need to know about the Main toolbar because these will be the most used. Everyone should know these and should be mandatory as far as I’m concerned. These may be different for you depending on what version you are using.

photshop-shortcutsMarquee Tool – m

Lasso Tool – l

Eraser – e

Knife – k

Move – v

Magic Wand – w

Paint Brush – b

History Brush – y

Blur / Sharpen / Smudge – r

Pen Tool – p

Type Tool – t

Linear Gradient – g

Eye Dropper – i

Zoom Tool – z

Switch between Background and Foreground colors – x

Restore Default Colors – d

Hide other Tools for more space – Tab button

Switch the Screen Modes – f

Hand Tool – Space bar

The Absolute Must Know Shortcuts

Now that you know the main toolbar shortcuts, I’m gonna show you the ones that I could not go on without. Again keep in mind I’m not a huge shortcut user myself but I’m also fully aware that some are almost a necessity to use Photoshop to it’s fullest.
For Brush Tool:

>> Increase / Decrease Brush Size – Left Square Bracket [ and Right Square Bracket ] respectively

>> Increase / Decrease Brush Hardness – Shift + Left Square Bracket and Shift + Right Bracket respectively

The left square bracket makes the brush smaller and right square bracket increases the size. When holding down shift and pressing the left square bracket the brush will soften and when using shift and the right square bracket key it will harden the brush. This is without a doubt the number one shortcut for me. This saves me so much time and really frees me to experiment in a free form flow.


Zoom In – Control + Space Bar
Zoom Out – Control + Space Bar + Alt (Option for Mac)
Pan / Hand Tool – Space Bar

I prefer to zoom with this shortcut because it gives me the magnifying glass tool which allows me to drag around a specific area of the document to zoom on. Once I’m zoomed in for some detail work, I use the Space Bar shortcut for getting the hand tool which allows me to pan around easily. To zoom back out I just use the zoom out shortcut and click on the document a couple of time which will quickly put me back a 100% view. What makes these so great is that you never switch to the hand tool or magnifying glass tool. You only have it while you hold the shortcut down. This was you can keep your main tool like the brush and never have to switch back. You always have it when you release the shortcut.

I use a quite few more but the shortcuts listed above really keep you in a rhythm and save so much time. Even if you think you don’t need any stinking shortcuts and are doing just fine without, do it anyway. I was the same way for a long time but eventually wised up!

Ready For More!

For those of you ready to learn a lot more and/or want a handy cheatsheet for all of the shortcuts then checkout the documents below.

Adobe CS4 Mac Shortcuts

Download – Right Click / Save As

Shortcut list provided by Trevor Morris Photographics

Adobe CS4 PC Shortcuts

Download – Right Click / Save As

Shortcut list provided by Trevor Morris Photographics

If you use an older version of Photoshop make sure to check out Trevor Morris Photographics for more shortcut downloads and cheatsheets.

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  • Ronald | Naldz Graphics

    I actually use this shortcuts ;) really save time.

  • Alyssa Myers

    Nice. This is a very helpful post.

  • mauritsjonkman

    Your Shortcuts sheet is outstanding,i love it.

  • alexeikervezee

    Thanks a lot for theses wonderful information,i searching theses keys on net but i can't search it.your post is amazing.

  • Hearing Aids

    Thanks. That's really helpful.

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  • k_4mil

    thank you for the post …its really helpful

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  • Hotkeys really saves our precious time and makes the work easier. So I prefer shortcuts.

  • Thanks for sharing these cheat sheets. I have actually added some on my wallpaper to make sure they are always on my scene.

  • Bev

    Ouch, my brain hurts. Joseph’s idea sounds like a winner. Out of sight out of mind but if it’s right there it’s easier to remember and use until it becomes second nature.

  • Jai

    Wow. I don’t know some of these shortcuts. I will surely try all of them. ^^

  • Prabha

    I have a cheatbook database for games and now i got this cheatsheet for photoshop and as i am new user of photoshop its very useful for me to learn these .

  • Marie

    I have learned many things in this collection. I will try to apply this one someday. ^^

  • Tarun Jaitely

    Great post. It will help to save lot of time. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Bhring Nath Prasad

    A cheat sheet is a very useful resource for learning shortcuts.

  • Bhring NAth Prasad

    I love these cheatsheets they are really very amazing to use shortcuts and it also save our time much .nice post i just love these post.

  • Kuldeep

    Awesome. These are time saver shortcuts, I usually use these shortcuts.