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!
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.
Marquee 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.
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