I recently read a blog post in which a photographer advocated utilizing shortcut keys when editing photos in Photoshop. He was brief, but right: shortcuts really are important if you want to work with images efficiently in the computer.
For example, there are a few basic shortcuts (or speedkeys) that I use all the time in Photoshop. Better still, the basic key combinations tend to be universal across many programs. On my Mac, it’s CMD-O to open a file, CMD-A to select all, CMD-C to copy, CMD-X to cut, CMD-V to paste, CMD-W to close the window, CMD-Q to quit the program. (On Windows, simply replace the Command key with Control.) If you can start with just these basics, you’ll seriously improve your processing time.
After those basics are covered, consider learning some keystrokes specific to your most frequently used programs. In Photoshop, I frequently hit F to cycle to a full-page view of the image I’m working on. I use the O key to toggle to the dodge/burn tool, the V key to access the move tool, the S key for the stamp, the J key for spot healing brush, the T key for type, the E key to erase and the B key for the paintbrush. I guess I didn’t realize just how many of these basic speedkeys I actually use all the time. How did I learn them? I printed out a little cheat sheet and taped it to the side of my monitor, right next to where the toolbar is located. Not only did it help me to see which keys correlated to which tools, it still provides a quick reference for the random tools I don’t use on a regular basis.
There are speedkeys for almost every function you can imagine in Photoshop. To get started, check out Adobe’s Help guide with details on keyboard shortcuts arranged by function. And for printable shortcut cheat sheets for many versions of Photoshop, visit designer Trevor Morris’ web site to download, print out and start learning the keystrokes that will streamline your Photoshop workflow.