Every photographer wants to save time in post production. One of the best ways to do that is to use your keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. I’m a HUGE keyboard shortcut fan. Editing goes more smoothly and valuable minutes are shaved off my editing time by using the following shortcuts. I seriously use them ALL the time.
1. You can find the keyboard shortcuts for any of the tools in the toolbar by simply hovering your mouse over the tool. Many times there is more than one tool assigned to a key. For instance, the O key is for the Dodge, Burn and Sponge tools. To cycle though any tools, click shift and the keyboard letter. So, shift + O will cycle through those three tools.
2. [ or ] (Bracket keys) increase or decrease the size of your brush, whether it’s a regular Brush, Clone Stamp, Spot Healing or any other brush. (works the same in Lightroom too for the adjustment brush)
3. To change a layer opacity in the layers palette: have the move tool selected (V) then simply hit the numbers on your keyboard.
0 = 100%, 1 = 10%, 5 = 50%, 9 = 90%, 1-5 in quick succession =15%, and so forth.
4. Change the opacity of your tool- Brush, Dodge, Gradient Bucket, Patch, Clone, etc., Select the desired tool or the keyboard shortcut for the tool, then the number on the keyboard as shown above in point #3.
5. X key – toggles your foreground and background color. This is really helpful when you are painting on layer masks. I constantly mask back and forth between painting in and painting out with black and white brushes. My finger is always on the X key while I’m masking to quickly switch colors back and forth.
6. D key – resets the foreground and background colors to black and white.
7. Cmd/ctrl + the plus or minus keys to zoom in or out.
8. Cmd/ctrl + 0 (zero) zooms the image to fit the screen.
9. Holding down the spacebar temporarily transforms your current tool to the Hand Tool and allows you to pan across your image. This is very helpful when you are zoomed in very far in an image and need to move to another part of the image quickly.
10. Cmd/ctrl + J duplicates your currently layer. I never edit on my background layer, so I’m duplicating all the time.
11. To cycle through the blending modes quickly, select the Move Tool (V) then on the desired layer in the layers palette, click shift and the plus or minus keys.
12. Option/alt click the eyeball on any given layer will turn all the other layers’ visibilities off and show only the layer that you click. I do this a lot on the background layer to quickly look back at the beginning of my edit. Option/alt click the eyeball again and the rest of the layer visualities turn back on.
13. Option/alt click on a layer mask to see a grayscale image of just the mask. This gives you a visual of exactly where you’ve painted and to what degree. White areas reveal the effect of the layer, black areas conceal the effect of the layer and shades of gray show the effect somewhat visible.
14. \ key (backslash key) brings up a red quick mask view of where you’ve painted on your layer mask. This allows you to mask more precisely.
15. Shift click the layer mask to temporarily disable it so you can view the layer prior to any masking.
16. To clear out the painting you’ve done on a layer mask when you want to scrap what you’ve masked you can:
- Cmd/ctrl + Delete/Backspace key – fills the mask with the the background color
- Option/Alt + Delete/Backspace key – fills the mask with the foreground color
- Shift + Delete/Backspace key – brings up the Fill dialog box where you can fill a layer with any color.
17. Cmd/ctrl + i – inverts the color of a layer mask. Again, I use this all the time to change my layer mask color to fit my needs.
18. Cmd/ctrl + layer mask icon – when adding a layer mask to a layer, it applies the layer mask as black instead of white for when you know you want to conceal your effect and then paint it in where needed.
19. Copy an existing layer mask that you’ve painted on to a new layer – option/alt click on the painted layer mask and drag it and drop it on the blank layer mask. It will ask if you want to replace the mask. Say yes!
20. Option/alt click the Snapshot icon in the History Palette to open a dialog box to name your snapshot.
21. Group Layers – Cmd/ctrl+ G – Groups all selected layers in the layers palette. To ungroup the layers: cmd/ctrl + G
22. Free Transform Tool – Cmd/ctrl + T : use for resizing, rotating, skewing or distorting the image. Right click the image after the transform handle bars and selection is made to bring up the contextual menu to flip, rotate and transform the image as desired.
23. Composite Merge – Cmd/ctrl + option/alt + Shift + E – Merges all visible layers into one new composited layer on top of the other layers in the layers palette. It gives a visual of the other layers below, but they will not be editable. It flattens without visually flattening.. (I use this one a lot).