Secret Photoshop Shortcuts

It always amazes me as a web designer how everyone uses Photoshop differently, everyone knows different elements and has alternative techniques. The program itself reminds me of a haunted mansion, its that antiquated that to find some parts of it you have to find the secret door and get into the evil doctors laboratory. Photoshop has been around now since 1987 and is on its 18th iteration, in this time it has got so bloated that there are so many secrets to be found!

In another post I will reference my way of working within Photoshop, which involves using as many shortcuts as possible but also working in a non-destructive manner. Over my years I have found this to be the most time effective way whilst it allows you to change anything within the photo or design at any point (hence the non destructive bit) but this is for another day…

For now, I am going to go over some of the secret shortcuts that few people use in Photoshop. Even for the Photoshop veteran they should be able to find something new! I use all of these shortcuts on a daily basis and are integral within my day-to-day workflow. Shortcuts are a great time saving device as the less time you have to stop whatever you are doing with your cursor, go up to a top menu click and circumnavigate 4 different drop down menus the better! If you can make one key press that does this it can shave tons of time off your weekly workflow, remember, every little helps! I will also go onto explain why and how I use these shortcuts. Please note, this is not an extensive list, just a few that I find really useful in my day to day work flow.

If you are on a PC CMD is the equivalent to Ctrl key.

Essential Shortcuts

CMD+n New Document – Even though this is an obvious one and common place in nearly every program there are a few important differences to note. Mainly if you have something already copied (CMD+c) Photoshop will automatically create the new document at the size of the area copied.

CMD+SHIFT+C Copy Merged – This is a great one for web development as the selected area you have will be copied including all the layers as one flat image. This can greatly increase the speed to create stuff on the fly for web.

2 Tools, Lots of jobs – You can find that between the direct selection tool and the brush tool you can get lots done! Playing around with the buttons in the bottom left hand of your keyboard you will find a variety of options within these two tools. Please find some of my favorites below.

V – Direct selection tool – Shortcut to the direct selection tool (black arrow)

Whilst Direct selection is Selected-

(Option) – Duplicate and move to another layer

(Control) – Layer select – Allows you to select any layer on the area you have clicked

B – Brush tool

Whilst Brush is selected

(Command) – Direct selection tool

(option) – Eyedropper tool

Undo – Undo is strange in Photoshop, if you undo more than once it will toggle back to the original state – use the shortcuts below to get a more natural undo experience!

CMD+Z Undo – Toggles

CMD+Option+Z – Step backwards – allows you to continue to go back

CMD+Shift+Z – Step Forwards

Quick Resizing skills

These are essentials for navigating around the program and the image that you are working on –

CMD+1(Ctrl+1) Resize the image to pixel level

CMD + or – (Ctrl + or -) Increase or decrease the size of the image

CMD+0 (Ctrl+0) Resize the image to the maximum of your screen size

F – This flicks between screen modes, centering the image and putting a black or grey background on.

Tab – Toggles to add or remove the workspace area.

Drawing & Colours

Here are a few little shortcuts that make using the brush tool a dream!

D – Resets the colours in your foreground and background colours to black and white – This is extremely useful when using masks.

X – Swap colours in foreground and background – Yet again, really useful with masks.

[ – ] – Increase and decrease the size of your brush radius.

Layer Management

CMD+E – Flatten Layer – Merge the current layer to the layer beneath

CMD+Shift+E – Flatten all Layers

CMD+Shift+Alt+E copy all layers onto the current layer

CMD+Shift+N New Layer – This is really useful as you get to add an adjustment layer at the same time, great for quick photo adjustment

CMD [ or ] – Send Layer Backwards or Forwards


CMD+A – Select All

CMD+D – Deselect

CMD+Shift+I – Invert Selection

Also, if you are desperate for a shortcut that doesn’t exist, you can make one in the keyboard shortcuts, found in edit! Get in touch with the experts at Media heroes and share any secret photoshop shortcuts you might have hidden away!