Home How-To Tip Of The Week Five Top Secret Photoshop Tricks—12/19/11
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Five Top Secret Photoshop Tricks—12/19/11

Undocumented shortcuts make digital imaging faster and better

This Article Features Photo Zoom

I'm convinced that if I used Photoshop every day for the rest of my life, I would never run out of things to discover. So if some of my current discoveries are old hat for you, well, what can I say: I've worried more about using cameras than computers. That said, I love discovering new tips and tricks to make Photoshop work better and make my images look nicer. One thing I recently learned is that there are lots of great Photoshop shortcuts—the speedkey combinations that make editing quicker and more efficient. Did you know that there are lots of functional yet undocumented Photoshop shortcuts? That's because they're top secret. Or at least they're not mentioned in the usual places. Here are five of my favorite.

— The Hand. I know, it's a simple one. But if you're new to Photoshop or just haven't stumbled upon it yet, you're gonna like this one. It's the spacebar, and holding it down turns any tool into a hand that will drag to reposition the image on which you're working. It's an efficient way, especially when working intently with some tool at the pixel level, to move around inside your images without resorting to that cumbersome mouse.

— Crosshairs. You know how many Photoshop tools have funny little icons associated with them, and how sometimes those icons obscure the precise area where you might be clicking in an image? Here's the fix. Simply engaging the caps lock key will turn that illustrative cursor icon into a refined set of crosshairs. This makes it much easier for you to precisely target your tool to the exact pixels you're aiming for.

— Stamp Visible. This technique is great. I recently learned about it, and now I'm going to use it as much s possible. It allows you to duplicate and combine all visible layers in an image into a brand new top layer. That way you can make edits to a single layer without losing all of the individual layers below. It keeps you from having to tediously duplicate and merge the existing layers into a new one. It's done with one keystroke, even though it does employ several fingers at once. Mac users hold Shift >Command>Option>E, while Windows users hold Shift>CTRL>Alt>E.

— Move a Marquee. Have you ever been drawing a selection using the rectangle or oval marquee tool when you decided it wasn't placed exactly right? Well if you try to click and drag it you'll find yourself cutting image areas out and moving them around along with the selection. But if while you're creating the selection, meaning while you're in the process of clicking and dragging to form the selection, you hold down the space bar and you can reposition the marquee selection without disrupting a single pixel.

— Use your scroll wheel to input numbers. No matter what dialogue box you might be working in—let's say it's the font character box, or the stamp tool's opacity box, or even the crop tool's proportion boxes—if you highlight the numerical value in that box you can adjust it up or down by simply scrolling the center wheel of your mouse. It's just another easy way to keep your hands where they are; in this case that means on the mouse and away from the keyboard. If you've got a favorite undocumented Photoshop shortcut I hope you'll mention it in the comments.

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