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Photoshop is a heck of an amazing software. You can do all kinds of things with images and go as far as your imagination can take you. Once you are past the beginner level 10 Must-know Introductory Photoshop Skills For Beginner Photographer 10 Must-know Introductory Photoshop Skills For Beginner Photographer Read More and understand what the various options are for and how they work, then you are ready for Photoshop tips and tricks like the ones that are the topic of this 2 part article.

They will help you in getting things done quickly, save you a lot of headache and steps and overall inflate your Photoshop-fu! So here we go:

Change Brush Size On The Fly

photoshop tips and tricks


If you are even the slightest bit serious about Photoshop or you have used the Brush tool a couple of times, this single tip is worth at least a dozen alone. While you are using the brush tool you do not have to go back to the options palette to change the brush size or softness. Left bracket key ‘[‘ decreases the brush size and Right bracket key ‘]’ increases the brush size. Similarly Shift + [ decrease hardness (makes the brush soft) and Shift + ] increases the hardness of the brush.

Create Guides Easily

photoshop tips and tricks

Guides can help you align objects in your composition. You can quickly create guides using rulers that appear at the top and the side of the document window. Click on the ruler and drag to create a guide. Release the mouse button where you want to create the guide. Once created you can quickly show/hide guides using Ctrl + ;

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Don’t Cancel Just Reset

photoshop tips and tricks

Photoshop can be pretty tough to get and even harder to master. Moreover, the nature of work dictates that you must experiment and things don’t always go the way you anticipate while experimentation. So if you are inside curves, or hue saturation or perhaps levels and you make a series of adjustments that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, you would want to start over again.

But wait don’t hit cancel just yet. Instead hold down the Alt key and see how the cancel button changes to Reset. Now click reset and the adjustments you made will be undone while sparing you the round trip to open the same dialog again.

Scrub The Input Boxes

photoshop help

There are a lot of controls in Photoshop that let you enter a value using the keyboard. Font size, brush size, opacity and who knows how many others. Well a peculiar thing about these input boxes is that you can increase or decrease the value that’s in them by just scrubbing with the mouse pointer. As you move close to any such control the mouse pointer changes to something like the one shown above. Now just click and drag in the direction you want to change the value. Generally dragging towards the right side increases the value and towards left side decreases the value.

Adjust Opacity Quickly

The opacity controls can be manipulated even faster! Just hit a number from 0-9 and opacity will be adjusted in increments of 10. This means that 1 would set the opacity to 10%, 7 will set it to 70% and 0 will set it to 100%. If you are looking for a definite value say 57% you can quickly type 5 followed by 7 to set the opacity to 57%. The trick works with layer opacity as well as for any tool that has an opacity setting.

Change Intensity Of Filters Without Dialog Boxes

Say you just applied the Unsharpen Mask filter to sharpen your photo. If you find you went a bit too far you can take back some of it by using Shift + Ctrl + F. If you would like to intensify the effect further you can use Ctrl + F to do so. Remember these would work just after you have applied the filter. If you performed other operations after applying the filter, these might not work as expected.

Unlock Background Layer

You might have noticed that the background layer has a little lock icon besides it. This indicates that the layer is locked. You can quickly unlock the background layer by double clicking on it, or Alt + clicking on the background layer or simply catch hold of the lock and drag it to the bin at the bottom of the layers palette.

Duplicate A Layer

photoshop help

Duplicating a layer can be very useful when saving selections or when you are unsure about the sequence of adjustments that you will be making. You can drag any layer onto the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to duplicate the layer or you can select the layer and press Ctrl + J.

Duplicate Layer Styles

photoshop help

More often than not, you want to apply the same layer styles to two or more layers. You can remember the settings or trust your eye and go on applying layer styles one by one or you can hold down the Alt key, click and drag the “fx” icon onto the layer you want to duplicate the layer style on and you are done!

Multiple Undo(s)

photoshop tricks

So what is the universal shortcut for Undo?  Ctrl + Z. Yeah right, and you would expect that hitting Ctrl + Z multiple times would take you back interatively. Only it works a little different in Photoshop. Ctrl + Z toggles between undo(ing) and redo(ing) the most recent operation. So if you want multiple undo(es) use Ctrl + Alt + Z. Similarly for multiple redo(s) you can use Shift + Ctrl + Z

Oh, I remember a few more. However, let’s just save them for another time in part two of our series. Meanwhile let us know if you have any Photoshop tips & tricks of your own!

  1. Toneysoft Blog
    December 6, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Thnk greats and Nice post

  2. Rajat Abbas Kirmani
    January 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Indeed a good article. Afterall he is intelligent Indian.

  3. zlajonja
    January 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I like these tips, known most of it, but I feel that they are essentials to make your way through photoshop tools faster so you can more concentrate on your work. :)

  4. Jigeiko
    January 4, 2010 at 6:30 am

    For the first trick, "Change Brush Size On The Fly" using the right click in the bruch mode is even quicker.

  5. ranjit
    January 4, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Nice tips.. Great...

  6. radicalzinc
    January 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Thanks. Good Tips.

  7. Cory
    December 31, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for the tips! A few were new to me.

  8. Mike Riley
    December 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    This is never published anywhere, and you can't find it from any of the standard menus, but if you search through the keyboard shortcuts interface (alt + shift + ctrl + k) you will find an operation called "new layer based slice" under the "layers" accordion section. This makes a slice out of the currently selected layer(s) that bounds them exactly, it will expand and contract to contain these layers if they change.

    It's quite possibly the most useful undocumented feature from the perspective of a web developer.

  9. el7cosmos
    December 31, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Awesome tips!!

    many of them i never heard before...

  10. rafael
    December 31, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Fantastic tips!

  11. Ratting Gergely
    December 31, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Nice, i like these kind of articles, it's always fun to learn some tips and tricks even if they are basic things that everybody should know. thx

  12. Surfer
    December 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Great tip - Ctrl + Alt + Z! Everyone should learn these keyboard shortcuts! thanks for sharing.. Happy New Year!

  13. syncan
    December 30, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Great article. One small correction: I believe it should be Alt-double-click to unlock the background.

  14. Jer
    December 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Gee....you guys must be rich. How about some suggestions for programs for those of us who can't afford things like Photoshop?? I can't even aford good security software, but have to constantly search for free stuff. I wonder just how many of your readers can afford Photoshop.
    Jer

    • Bill
      December 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

      Gee… I wonder how many people who don't have Photoshop read Photoshop tips pages.

      • Victor
        January 3, 2010 at 5:19 am

        @Bill
        ROFLMAO! :D Exquisite. lol.

      • NewYorkRob
        January 3, 2010 at 8:07 am

        Bill, were your parents related before they married?

    • Victor
      January 3, 2010 at 5:17 am

      I feel your pain, so I am gonna recommend what I personally use. THE GIMP! GIMP is the open source alternative to Photoshop with many many plugins and just as robust Photoshop. And if you are worried about having to learn how to use the GIMP because your used to Photoshop, there is patched version of GIMP you can download that emulates Adobe Photoshop's GUI(Interface).
      Cheers,
      -VB

  15. Medisoft
    December 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks for the PS tips! I can use these this weekend!

  16. kuswanto
    December 30, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Nice list. Changing filter setting is new.. Thank you :-)

  17. Russ
    December 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Additional Tip: map the "Step Backward" command to the F1 key and the "Step Forward" command to the F2 key and you'll have an easy way to walk forwards and back through history using two fingers of your left hand.

  18. Rob
    December 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Great list. I gotta say that if you really want to make your photoshop experience faster, then you need to learn all of these tips.

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