Timesaving Photoshop Shortcuts and Tips


Adobe Photoshop is a huge program with loads of commands, but it is very time consuming experience to perform a task when we don’t know the photoshop shortcuts (short keys).

So today I decided to post a list of routinely used photoshop shortcuts and tips that will greatly increase the speed of your work.

I have tested all these shortcuts on Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended.

Make sure you don’t miss: Photoshop CS5 Shortcuts for Professionals

You might also like to view: Best of the Best Photoshop Tutorials from 2010

Tip: Open Photoshop and test these shortcuts as you right away, that’s the best way to memorize them.


all adobe photoshop toolbars

Image Courtesy Tam Cao

1. Caps Lock switches your cursor to Plus sign for precision, while working with painting or editing tools.

2. To draw a straight line, click where you want the line to start, then go to the point where you want the line to end, hold Shift and Click.

3. Holding Ctrl will change you current tool to Move Tool, temporarily.

4. Holding Spacebar will change you current tool to Hand Tool, temporarily.

5. Holding Alt will change you current tool to Eyedropper Tool, temporarily if you are working with a painting tool.

6. Ctrl + Alt + Click and drag the image, it will create a duplication of the current image image or selection and make an overlay on top.

7. If you hold down Alt while using Burn or Dodge Tool, it switches the tool functions in between them.

8. When you are done typing with any text tool, press Ctrl+Enter, Photoshop will understand you are done.

9. Alt + Mouse Scroll changes the zoom level

10. While using Magnetic Lasso Tool, pressing Delete button will remove the previous anchor point.

11. While working with Zoom Tool, Ctrl + Spacebar = zooms in, Alt + Spacebar = zooms out.

12. Eyedropper Tool to captures foreground color, hold Alt and click, it will capture the color for background.

13. When drawing a line with Measure Tool, if you hold Alt and draw another line from the end of the first line, it will also measure the angle.

14. When using Marquee Tools, hold down Alt and it will make the click point as the center point of the selection.When using Brush Tool, or other Paint Tools, pressing the numbers on the numeral pad will alter the transparency. ([4=40%] or [press 4 then 5 will get 45%])

15. Hold Shift and press “+” or “-” it will change the layer and painting modes:

    • N = Normal
    • I = Dissolve
    • M = Multiply
    • S = Screen
    • O = Overlay
    • F = Soft Light
    • H = Hard Light
    • D = Color Dodge
    • B = Color Burn
    • K = Darken
    • G = Lighten
    • E = Difference
    • X = Exclusion
    • U = Hue
    • T = Saturation
    • C = Color
    • Y = Luminosity
    • Q = Behind 1
    • L = Threshold 2
    • R = Clear 3
    • W = Shadow 4
    • V = Midtones 4
    • Z = Highlights 4
    • (This will work with these tools: Alpha turned off, Indexed Mode, Line tool, Bucket Tools, Dodge and Burn)


Adobe Photoshop CS5 workspace screenshot

16. When you double click the gray background area,  the “Open” command will run. (Works when no file is opened)

17. Double clicking on the title of any panel will minimize or maximize it.

18. All “Cancel” buttons in every Photoshop windows and tables, will be transformed into a “Reset” button by just holding Alt.

19. Pressing Tab will hide toolbar and panels, while Shift + Tab will only hide panels. This is one the most used trick in Photoshop.

20. Let’s have some fun, wanna change the grey background color outside the opened file, select Paint Bucket tool, hold shift and click. Voila! (works only when a file is opened)

21. Open a file and press F button, it switches among the 3 different screen modes so you can easily choose the best workspace for your current task.

22. Ctrl + Backspace and Alt + Backspace will fill in the whole image area with foreground color or background colors.

23. Pressing Shift + Backspace will pop-up the option window, Alt + Shift + Backspace and Ctrl + Shift + Backspace, will fill the image with foreground or background color but will not change the values in of the areas of alpha.

24. Ctrl+J makes a duplicate layer.

25. Ctrl + D to deselect everything, and Ctrl+Shift+D to reselect what you deselected.

26. You can show or hide a path by pressing Ctrl+shift+H

27. Pressing Ctrl+Tab allows you to toggles between opened image files.

28. Alt drag a step from a serial action can copy it to another action.

29. If you want to import an object from Illustrator to Photoshop, just Copy and Paste. Photoshop will ask you whether to import it as a vector or bitmap.

30. Double clicking the Hand Tool will provide you the largest full image preview possible.

31. Double clicking the Zoom Tool sets the zoom level to 100%.

32. Pressing X will swap the foreground and background colors.

33. Pressing D will resets the foreground and background colors to default (mostly Black and White)

34. Ctrl+Shift+N opens the new layer with a dialog box, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N creates a new layer, no questions asked.

35. Ctrl+E Merges Layers

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Further Related Readings

  1. Giles Morgans January 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Adding to Item 8: If you have an extended keyboard, pressing ENTER next to the numeric keyboard has the same effect 🙂

    1. Tayyab January 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks Giles Morgans, how did I miss that…?

  2. niazor January 26, 2011 at 11:47 am

    While in the full screen mode, pressing the numeric Enter will bring up the top panel only. The most useful and most compact layout I always use.

  3. Mariska January 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Great post! Some new stuff, but always nice to have an overview.
    How about CTRL+Z for one step back in your history and CTRL+ALT+Z for more steps?
    I know that’s the shortcut I use the most!
    And to bad there isn’t a way to set up a keyboard shortcut for switching your dimension with the croptool. (like 4×6 switching to 6×4 for landscape photos).

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:38 am

      Yeah, too bad, there is no shortcut….

  4. Thesaura January 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

    21. Open a file and press F button, it switches among the 3 different screen modes so you can easily choose the best workspace for your current task.

    35. Press F to alter between the modes.

    21 and 35 the same?

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Thanks for marking, its updated.

  5. Robert Whetton January 26, 2011 at 11:55 am

    q = quick mask
    w = magic wand
    e = eraser
    r = rotate tool (CS5), with the new snap tools, if you hold R and rotate, after you let got it will snap back to the same tool as you had previously
    t = type tool
    y = history brush
    u = vector shape
    i = eye dropper
    o = dodge and burn
    p = pen tool (drawing paths)
    a = path selection tool
    s = stamp tool (clone)
    g = paint bucket/gradient tool
    h = hand
    j = healing brush
    l = lasso
    z = zoom
    x = swap background and foreground
    c = crop
    v = move tool
    b = brush
    n = notes
    m = marquee
    [ = make brush smaller
    ] = make brush bigger

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:42 am

      @Robert Whetton
      thank you for taking out time to make this list.

    2. Ali Raza January 28, 2011 at 6:12 am

      If we hold the shortkey of any tool and use it….after we finish working with it…this takes the last selected tool back…


  6. ~AR January 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    great list, but not an end all complete list…
    What about:
    Shift + Alt + to make text larger/smaller when in the text tool?
    Shift + Alt + UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW adjusts line offset.
    CTRL + click on a layer thumbnail in the layers panel to select the contents (works well for alpha channel selections)
    expanding on ZOOM:
    CRTL + “+” or “-” to zoom in/out incrementally without having to switch to the zoom tool.
    CTRL + 1 or 2 or 3 to show only Red, Green or Blue color channels respectively (1, 2, 3, 4 for CMYK mode)
    CTRL + 4(RGB)/5(CMYK) and up to show only alpha channels in the order they were created in.
    CTRL + ~ to show all color channels.

    Everyone knows CTRL + Z is undo/redo, but for stepping back more than one step, CTRL + ALT + Z steps back through history…CTRL + ALT + Y Steps Forward. only limit is the number of undos set in the preferences.

    there are even more, but this is a good solid start.

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

      Yes, this tip does not really contain the advance tips, only the basic ones. I am making a post for the advanced users of Photoshop. It will be published in a few days. Check back soon.

  7. maiyuran January 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    ctrl+right click and moving the mouse= will re size the brush/pencil/eraser tools.this was soo cool

  8. bill day January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    excellent help i found new shortcuts that i never knew excisted

  9. eri saldaña January 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    very helpful…muy bueno

  10. Paratron January 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hey, I have a bunch more shortcuts 😉


    CTRL+J duplicates the current Layer while you have nothing selected, yes.
    If you have any active selection and press CTRL+J, the selected area will be copied to the new layer.
    If you press SHIFT+CTRL+J when you have something selected, it will be cut out and put on a new layer.


    If you press the number keys 0-9 while not handling a brush tool, you set the current layers opacity.
    This reminds me: is there a way to hotkey-change the current layers fill-opacity, not the overall opacity?


    You can drag around a selection by holding space.


    Scrolling moves the document up and down.
    CTRL+scroll moves it left and right.


    ALT+click on the visibility icon of a layer to hide all other layers.


    CTRL+TAB to switch between open windows.


    Thats what comes to my mind quickly 🙂

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:47 am

      Wow! thanks Paratron
      I’ll be adding your tips with your reference in the sequel of this post which will be intended for the advanced users. I’ll wait for your feedback there also.

    2. Ali Raza January 28, 2011 at 6:15 am

      If we hold SHIFT and press 1-9 it will change the FILL OPACITY of the layer.

  11. Stoyan Kostov January 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    15. Hold Shift and press “+” or “-” it will change the layer and painting modes:
    Shift+alt+N = Normal
    Shift+alt+I = Dissolve
    Shift+alt+M = Multiply
    Shift+alt+S = Screen
    …and so on

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:48 am

      Nice Addition, thanks

  12. V!nc3r January 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Another adding for items 30 and 31 : with numpad ; ctrl + 0 and ctrl + alt + 0 do the same.

  13. Blair January 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Added to #34 – ctrl+alt+shift+E will merge all visible layers into the newly created layer. Also ctrl+e will merge selected layers. I use these heaps 🙂

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

      Thanks for the tip Blair, but why are you always merging layers???

  14. peter January 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    When I have the toolbar set the path (P) on numlock using the + – switch between types of paths. Need to disable this funkctions but I do not know how, it becomes my mistake that I switch it and then make the opposite path. pls help me. thank u /sorry for google translate/

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:17 am

      I’m sorry I checked everything but there is no problem at my PC, maybe its just your system. Try reinstalling the program, that might help… Sorry that’s all I can suggest you right now.

  15. Steve Linhoss January 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Julieanne Kost at Imaging USA, “If it had any more shortcuts, we would have to ship it with a foot pedal.” I love a sense of humor!

  16. Raul January 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I love the screen captures of the tool boxes over the years. I learned my chops on Photoshop 2.0, since then they have bounced the pen tool all over the tool box, put the quick select tool in front of the old trusty magic wand, and now they have hijacked the shortcut for feathering and snatched the R right out from under the blur tool. I hate having to re-learn shortcuts I have used for years, of course I can take them back by customizing, but when I sit down at someone else’s machine I still have to adapt.

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:26 am

      Wow! I learned Photoshop at Photoshop 4 n I thought I was an experienced user…. lol

  17. Stoyan Kostov January 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    A shrtcut that I find realy helpful, but not so popular is


    It selects tonal range higher than 50% (look at the histogram).
    You can easily revers it with ctrl+shift+i

  18. Marek Mularczyk January 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Great article, thanks a lot for that!

    I am going to post about it on my blog tomorrow:


    All best,


    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:05 am

      Thanks for the appreciation Marek Mularczyk
      I also checked out your blog. Very nice content, buy why such a dark template? You like the flames or something else?

  19. April January 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    CTRL+Shift+E (merge visible layers). Unless I have hidden layers, almost as good as flattening just before saving finished project to a jpeg.

  20. John Daniel January 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing these. A new Photoshop user.

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:19 am

      Nice to know this helps new users as well. Thanks for your comment.

  21. Randy January 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Does anyone know how to scroll through the layer modes (e.g. normal, darken, multiple, color, saturation, etc.)?

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:25 am

      An addition to Tip # 15 by @Stoyan Kostov
      Hold Shift and press “+” or “-” it will change the layer and painting modes:
      Shift+alt+N = Normal
      Shift+alt+I = Dissolve
      Shift+alt+M = Multiply
      Shift+alt+S = Screen

  22. gianto January 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    verry much better on helping me. Thanks a lots.

  23. Johnson P R January 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Thanx a lot for these …. really very helpful…

  24. Billy January 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    An awesome blend mode shortcut:

    Mac: Option + Shift + [letter of the name of a blend mode]
    PC: Alt + Shift + [letter of the name of a blend mode]

    ex: Option + Shift + O = Overlay Blend Mode
    ex: Option + Shift + K = Darken Blend Mode

    Pretty sure that may be one of the best shortcuts in photoshop, nothing else really compares to it. Kinda curious why it didn’t make the list, and there are ton more fun shortcuts out there. Good list though.

    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:28 am

      This tip is added in the sequel of this post.

  25. Randy January 26, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    @Billy, thank you! That’s it! (and I should have referred to it properly as “blend mode”)

  26. sujitkumar bhardwaj January 27, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I love photo-shop thanks for it. Its so amazing 🙂

  27. Ali Raza January 27, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Very useful shortcuts…

    Here are few more…

    CTRL+mouse scroll will horizontally scroll the page. and holding shift will make it faster.

    ADDING TO POINT 10: Backspace also do the same function.

    With any tool Selected: Pressing CTRL+Space will bring the zoom in and CTRL+ALT+Space will bring the zoom out icons temporarily.

    SHIFT + (key of tool) will switch between that tool family.

    ALT+Click on tool do the same function.

    here comes very handy shortcut.

    ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+T = transforms again the selected object just like We do in illustrator with CTRL+D;

    SHIFT+[ increases and SHIFT+] decreases the brush size faster…

    CTRL+Tab and CTRL+`{this sign is from below~} switch between opened.

    pressing 1-9 will change the opacity of the layer 9=90% and 0=100%.

    1. Ali Raza January 27, 2011 at 1:06 am

      Adding one more key

      after text selection:

      will increase
      will decrease
      the font size;

    2. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 1:29 am

      Great Tips, these will be added in the sequel of this post with your reference.

  28. secretagentman January 27, 2011 at 2:59 am

    ctrl+shift+J creates a new layer by cutting the actual selection.

    ctrl+alt+D opens the option to unsharpen the actual selection.

    to 20. right mouse click in the grey does the same.

    by the way: crtl means cmd on mac, right?

    and one question: is there any posibility to go up and down through the layers by only using a key combination?

    1. Ali Raza January 28, 2011 at 7:18 am

      ALT+] GO UP

  29. avn January 27, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Thanks for sharing, this is all we need 😀

  30. Ken (no specialist at all) January 27, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Does anyone know the shortcut to change brush size without havig to drag and drop there up-left… 😉


    1. Tayyab January 27, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Robert Whetton, one of our dear commentators of this post described it in a comment above.

      [ = make brush smaller
      ] = make brush bigger

      1. Ken (no specialist at all) January 27, 2011 at 11:33 am

        doesn’t work on my (swiss) keyboard… 🙁

  31. Jigar January 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I really didn’t know about all this shortcuts.

  32. RevuGuy February 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm


    ctrl+right click and moving the mouse= will re size the brush/pencil/eraser tools.this was soo cool

    Correction : It is ALT + right click…

  33. Florin February 24, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Does anyone know how you toggle between first (the open state) and last step of the history pallet?
    I know the Cmd + Alt/Shift + Z stuff I was just wondering if there is such an option.

    1. Tayyab February 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      The Sequel of of this article has been published Photoshop CS5 Shortcuts for Professionals

      I think there used to be one in PS 7, I tried but couldn’t recall (Sorry ): ) , neither did any of my tries worked in CS5. If something does work, I’ll share it right here.

  34. duhduhdan March 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Alternatively, you can simply press Enter on the numpad (if you have one) instead of using Ctrl + Enter to tell Photoshop you’re done typing.

  35. Raul March 19, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    hit F12 to revert but that might take you back and not let you return.

  36. Raul March 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    @Florin I tested it out, you can revert to the original by using F12 and Ctrl or Cmd Z will take you back one step to where you left off.

  37. florin March 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Raul that’s awesome. Probably one of the shortcuts out there that I couldn’t find by my own.
    On a mac there is a problem as Macbook Pros reveal the “expose” when pressing the F12. That of course can be disabled from the Preferences.
    I didn’t realize in the first place that PS creates another step in fact in the history pallet called revert which takes you back and forth from the first to the last step of the image.

  38. Tayyab March 21, 2011 at 12:32 am


    Thanks for helping @florin.

  39. web India July 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Really nice resources collected in this post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tayyab July 15, 2011 at 3:50 am

      Thanks for the appreciation Web India!

  40. holly August 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    You’re awesome! thanks so much!

  41. Juliette September 9, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Hi there!
    Great site!

    I am trying to ‘turn on’ the grey work space background in all my Adobe CS 5 applications. Does anyone know how to do this as it’s not a default on mine.


  42. gayle January 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    On a MacBookPro, PS CS5
    to Bring up the layers panel
    Press fn + F7

    To bring up the tools panel
    press tab

    1. Tayyab January 31, 2012 at 2:55 am

      thanks for the key Gayle.

  43. Jan February 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Does any1 know how to actually Rotate your brush? I know that [ and ] is used to make it bigger or smaller….
    At the moment I have to open the menu every time I want to turn a brush, pretty annoying!


    1. Tayyab March 1, 2012 at 2:32 am

      Select brush tool and hit F5

      For details, you can look at http://www.designzzz.com/how-to-make-dotted-stroke-line-photoshop/

  44. Emma May 12, 2012 at 5:19 am

    I know this might sound lame but does anyone know where the Soft Mechanical tool is? Please… 😀

    1. Tayyab May 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Are you talking about “Soft Mechanical” brush set?

  45. ron December 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Just wondering what the shortcut is to get the top navigation back? Thanks for the help

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