Adobe Photoshop Shortcut Keys

The Importance of quick keys

To increase your overall efficiency while using Adobe Photoshop, it is critical to apply some effort in learning ‘quick-keys‘.

quick-key is in effect a keyboard short-cut. When pressed in combination with another key, a quick key will send a command to Adobe Photoshop to perform a certain action. A good example of this can be found when holding down the ‘CTRL’ key and pressing the ‘N’. This will cause the ‘New’ dialogue box to appear.

There are 100’s of quick-keys to learn about in Adobe Photoshop. Most of them can be found next to commands within the menu system.

It would be an unrealistic objective to try and learn all quick-keys at this point. Indeed, you might not need to know all of them, just the ones that prove to be most useful to you. If you are applying a certain action or command on a regular basis in your work flow, rather than depending upon the menu system, take time in trying to learn its related quick-key.

Do I really need to use quick keys?

If you were to measure the time it takes to perform a certain command or action or change your current tool, and strike a comparison to how long it takes to summon that same procedure while using a quick-key, you would definitely opt for the later.


Try the following experiment for yourself to help demonstrate the importance of using quick-keys.

  1. Create a new canvas (CTRL + N) and set the size at 1000 by 1000 pixels (you may need to change the unit of measurement by clicking on the small drop-down boxes next to the Height and Width boxes).
  2. Zoom %1600 in to your canvas.
  3. Starting from the far left hand-side, using the brush tool ‘B’ (with a small brush, i.e. size ‘1’) start to draw a line across your canvas.
  4. Now change tool. Use the hand tool ‘H’ to move your canvas along a little to the to reveal more canvas on the right. If you wish you might want to repeat this experiment later and use the scroll-bars instead of the hand tool.
  5. Now change tool again. Choose the brush tool and continue repeat from step 3 until you reach the far right of your canvas. If you zoom out, you should now see a line stretching from left to right.

Now repeat the same experiment, this time using the ‘spacebar’ to move you from left to right across your canvas. Notice how you don’t even have to change tools, you can keep on using the brush tool – the spacebar (for as long as the key is pressed) will momentary become the hand tool.

If you were to time this experiment, this first method should take about 45 seconds to complete. The second method – 5 seconds.

Using a well rehearsed quick-key will take a fraction of a second to apply, saving you time and giving you more time to spend perfecting your artwork. Such a simple philosophy – and it works!

Quick Key Map

The Following table is a useful listing of commonly used quick keys.
Note: You will need to hold the ‘Shift’ key to cycle though obscured tools with the tool palette.

Tool selection
Rectangular Marquee (M)
Elliptical Marquee
Single Row Marquee
Single Column Marquee
Move (V)
Lasso (L)
Polygonal Lasso
Magnetic Lasso
Magic Wand (W)
Crop (C)
Slice (K)
Slice Select
Healing Brush (J)
Brush (B)
Clone Stamp (S)
Pattern Stamp
History Brush (Y)
Art History
Eraser (E)
Background Eraser
Magic Eraser
Gradient (G)
Paint Bucket
Blur (R)
Dodge (O)
Path Selection (A)
Direct Selection
Horizontal Type (T)
Vertical Type
Horizontal Type Mask
Vertical Type Mask
Pen (P)
Freeform Pen
Add Anchor Point
Delete Anchor Point
Convert Point
Rectangle (U)
Rounded Rectangle
Custom Shape
Notes (N)
Audio Annotation
Eyedropper (I)
Color Sampler
Hand (H)
Zoom (Z)
Viewing and Navigation
100% Magnify Alt+CTRL+0 (zero)
Zoom in/out CTRL + or CTRL –
Fit image in window CTRL+0 (zero)
Actual Pixels CTRL+Alt+0 (zero)
Move around canvas Spacebar
Scroll up/down Page Up or Page Down
Go to top left hand corner Home
Go to Bottom right hand corner End
Fill Dialogue box Shft+Backspace
Fill layer or select with foreground colour Alt+Backspace
Fill layer or select with background colour CTRL+Backspace
Paint in straight lines Shft+left click
Set flow Shft+Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Set Opacity Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Select colour from image Alt+left click
Select Background colour from image Shft+Alt+left click
Selecting and Moving
Move Layer CTRL
Constrain Marquee Proportions Shft
Draw new Marquee from Centre Alt+left click and drag
Moves selection 1 pixel Arrow keys
Moves selection 10 pixels Shft+Arrow keys
Move non-selected layer CTRL+Arrow keys
Accept changes to Transform Enter or double left click on object
Accept Crop Enter or double left click on object
Select All CTRL+A
Deselect CTRL+D
Reselect CTRL+Shift+D
Hide/Show Selection CTRL+H
Close Polygonal Selection Enter
Discontinue Polygonal Selection Escape (Esc)
Invert Selection Shift+CTRL+Alt+I
Feathering CTRL+Alt+D
Colouring and Correcting Colour
Levels CTRL+L
Auto Levels CTRL+Shift+L
Auto Contrast CTRL+Shift+Alt+L
Auto Colour CTRL+Shift+B
Desaturate CTRL+Shift+U
Curves CTRL+M
Hue & Saturation CTRL+U
Colour Balance CTRL+B
Paste CTRL+V
Inverse Image CTRL+Alt+I
Redo CTRL+Shift+Z
Undo Multiple CTRL+Alt+Z
Redo Multiple CTRL+Shift+Z
Paste CTRL+V
Apply Last Filter CTRL+F
Extract CTRL+Alt+X
Liquify CTRL+Shift+X
Pattern Maker CTRL+Shift+Alt+X
Free Transform CTRL+T
Transform Again Crtl+Shift+T
Photoshop Preferences CTRL+K
Colour Setup CTRL+Shift+K
Show Grid CTRL+@
Show Ruler CTRL+R
Snap CTRL+Shift+;
Lock Guides CTRL+Alt+;
Help f1
File Management
Open Image CTRL+O
Close Image CTRL+W
Close All Images CTRL+Shift+W
Browse CTRL+Shift+O
New Image CTRL+N
Save Image CTRL+S
Save As CTRL+Shift+S
Save For Web CTRL+Shift+Alt+S
Page Setup CTRL+Shift+P
Print with Preview CTRL+P
Print CTRL+Alt+P
Print one Copy CTRL+Alt+P
Exit Photoshop CTRL+Q
Layer Management
New Layer CTRL+Shift+N
Layer Via Copy CTRL+J
Layer Via Cut CTRL+Shift+J
Group with Previous CTRL+G
Ungroup CTRL+Shift+G
Merge Down CTRL+E
Merge Linked CTRL+Shift+E
  1. Drag selection
    With the Marquee tool, drag on the document (do not release the mouse yet), now hold down Spacebar, it will let you drag the undefined selection.screenshot
  2. Navigate the document left or right
    Hold down the Cmd key and scroll up or down allows you to navigate the document left or right. For example, hold down Cmd + scroll up will navigate to right.screenshot
  3. Browse the font list
    Put your cursor in the font list dropdown, you can browse the font list by pressing arrow Up or Down key.screenshot
  4. Scale font size
    Select the text that you want to scale the font size, press Cmd + Shift + > or < to increase / decrease font size.screenshot
  5. Zoom with the scroll wheel
    You can zoom in / out by Cmd + Opt + scroll up or down.screenshot
  6. Drag to adjust numberic value
    Mouseover the input box, hold down Cmd + drag left or right to increase / decrease. Hold down Cmd + Opt or Shift key and drag can change the value in decimal or 10 interval. This shortcut works in all dialog palettes.screenshot
  7. Scroll to adjust numeric value
    Put the cursor in the input box, scroll up or down to increase / decrease value. This shortcut works in all dialog palettes.screenshot
  8. Arrow up / down to adjust numeric value
    Put the cursor in the input box, press arrow Up or Down to increase / decrease. Hold down Shift and press arrow Up or Down will change value in 10 interval.screenshot
  9. Zoom to 100%
    Double click on the Zoom tool will zoom document to 100%.screenshot
  10. Collapse or expand all layer groups
    You can collapse or expand all root-level layer groups by holding down Cmd + click on the triangle icon. Hold down Cmd + Opt + click on the triangle icon will collapse or expand all level layer groups.screenshot
  11. Show / hide in a row
    If you need to show / hide more than one layers, instead of clicking one by one, you can click on the visibility icon and drag in a row.screenshot
  12. Hide other layers
    Hold down Opt + click on the visibility icon will hide all other layers.screenshot
  13. Navigate layer blending mode
    Opt + Shift + “-” or “+” key allows you to navigate through the blending mode dropdown.screenshot
  14. Set specific blending mode
    Opt + Shift + C, N, M, S, D… allows to set layer to specific blending mode.
    For examples:
    Normal = Opt + Shift + N
    Screen = Opt + Shift + S
    Multiply = Opt + Shift + M
    Color = Opt + Shift + Cscreenshot
  15. Lock layer transparency
    Press forward slash (“/”) to lock layer transparency.screenshot
  16. Load Channel selection
    You probably know that Cmd + number keys (1, 2, 3) will activate the channels in sequent. Press Cmd + Opt + number keys will load the selection. For example, press Cmd + Opt + 4 will load Alpha channel 1.screenshot
  17. Tool panels
    Press Tab to toggle tool panels.screenshot
  18. Precise cursor
    Caps lock will display tool cursor in precise mode.screenshot
  19. Navigate the tool list
    You can navigate through the tool list by pressing Shift + tool shorcut. For example: B = Brush tool, if you press Shift + B again, you will switch to Pencil tool.screenshot
  20. Increase / decrease brush size
    With the Brush tool selected, you can increase / decrease the brush size by pressing [ or ] key (square bracket key). Press Shift + [ or ] will increase / decrease brush hardness.screenshot
  21. Opacity
    You can set the layer opacity by pressing the number keys (ie. 1 = 10%, 2 = 20%…). When you have the brush tool selected, pressing the number keys will adjust the brush opacity.screenshot
  22. Duplicate layer
    There are several shortcuts to duplicate layers.
    1. You can hold down Cmd + Opt + drag to duplicate the active layer.
    2. Cmd + Opt + arrow keys (Up, Down, Left, Right).
    3. Cmd + J will duplicate the active layer in exact position.
    4. Hold down Opt + drag within the Layers palette can also duplicate layers.screenshot
  23. Copy visible and paste in a new layer
    Press Cmd + Opt + Shift + E will copy the visible layers and paste in a new layer.screenshot
  24. Change workspace background
    By default Photoshop use grey for the workspace background color. You can change that by:
    1. select your favorite color
    2. choose the Paint Bucket tool
    3. Hold down Shift + click on the working area (outside the document area)screenshot
  25. Update: right-click on the workspace area to get a dropdown menu – allows you to set the background to black, grey, or a custom color (commented by Todd Patrick).
  26. Fill background or foreground color
    Opt + Delete (Backspace) = fill the layer with foreground color.
    Cmd + Delete (Backspace) = fill the layer with background colorscreenshot

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