Home How-To Tip Of The Week Shortcuts Make Photoshop Faster—01/24/11
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Shortcuts Make Photoshop Faster—01/24/11

Speed up your image editing with custom shortcut keys

This Article Features Photo Zoom


I love working without a mouse. True, it’s almost impossible to edit photos without some sort of pointing device, be it mouse or pen, but in my opinion it’s equally impossible to edit images efficiently without the use of the keyboard.

Many programs offer built-in keystroke shortcuts to speed up workflow. Command-S (or Ctrl-S on Windows machines) is universally used to save a file—that one’s fairly well known. Just as Command-A, Command-X, Command-C, Command-V and Command-W are known to select all, cut, copy, past and close pretty universally too.

But there are many more speedkey shortcuts that you can use in Photoshop to cut your image processing time, such as the single-touch keys that toggle from tool to tool. I certainly recommend investigating these shortcut keys, and as many other key combinations as your brain will hold. Do this for Photoshop editing as well as every other program you use. Whatever you’re doing on the computer, shortcut keys will help you do it faster.

One of the greatest things about shortcut keys for photographers is the fact that Photoshop allows you to create your own custom function keys to work with prerecorded Actions—which we all know are an ideal way to improve image editing efficiency. Best of all, customizing speedkeys in Photoshop is incredibly easy.


First, open the Actions Palette within Photoshop if it’s not already resident on your desktop. Within the palette, double-right-click (or double-CNTRL-click on the Mac) the Action for which you’d like to create a shortcut key. When the Action Options dialogue box opens, simply point the Function Key dropdown menu to the F-key you’d like to correlate. Running short on available function keys? Add a Shift or Command keystroke as well to get double or triple the speedkey combinations out of a single F-key.

These shortcut keys are a huge timesaver. With my own portrait workflow, for instance, I know that once I’m happy with a headshot and ready to create a final file for my client, I simply hit F3 (for a pre-established portrait blur) followed by F4 (to resize and save a series of finished files). Best of all, I don’t even have to think before running these actions, as my fingers do the walking and the files are rendered seemingly in the instant the thought crosses my mind. For your most repetitive Photoshop tasks, there’s no better way to speed your workflow that with shortcut keys.

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