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photoshoplogoJust yesterday we were talking about some cool Photoshop tips and tricks that you should know about. The story was getting a little long and I still had many more tips to share so I decided to do a follow up article.

Hoping that these follow up Photoshop tips will help you do your work faster and much more easily, let’s begin where we left off and set the ball rolling:

Pick Colors Quickly

Who creates swatches these days? Well OK some people do. However if all you need is to sample (pick) a color from an image that is open, don’t go rushing for the Eye Dropper tool. Just hold down the Alt key when using a tool that requires color and you will see the pointer changes to eyedropper. Click on the color you want to sample and there you have it set as the foreground color.

Switch Colors Easily

You might know that clicking on black and white squares next to the color indicator switches the color back to defaults (i.e. black and white) and clicking on the arrow flips the background and foreground colors. These buttons are however, way too far to be useful while in the middle of a composition. Instead just hit the ‘D’ key to get the default colors as foreground and background and use the ‘X’ key to switch foreground and background colors.

Sample Colors From Anywhere On The Screen

Another Photoshop tip – say you are creating a wallpaper and you would like it to match to the current theme. You would like to sample the color of the Windows taskbar. Can Photoshop do it? Sure it can. This time go ahead and choose the EyeDropper tool. With the EyeDropper tool selected click anywhere inside Photoshop’s document window. Now keep the mouse button down and drag the EyeDropper outside the Photoshop window. You will see that the foreground color block updates to reflect the color of the pixel under the EyeDropper tool. Move to the taskbar and you can have the exact color you want!

Create Clipping Masks Easily

Don’t go looking in the menus for creating a clipping mask when it just can’t get any simpler than this: Position your mouse pointer just between the two layers, hold down the Alt key and the mouse pointer changes. Now click once and you have an instant clipping mask!

Restrict The Scope Of An Adjustment Layer

Adjustment layers are a great way to work on your photos non-destructively. You can create an adjustment layer via an icon at the bottom of the layer’s palette. However, did you know that you can limit the scope of an adjustment layer to affect only a single layer beneath it via a clipping mask?

You can use the tip just above or if you hold down the Alt key while creating an adjustment layer you can not only name the adjustment layer, you can also choose if you can also check the use previous layer as a clipping mask to have the adjustment layer just affect the layer underneath.

Zoom On The Fly

Another one of my favorite Photoshop tips. Can you imagine having to go to the zoom tool every time you want to zoom in or zoom out?  I say ditch the zoom tool. Hold down the Ctrl + Spacebar keys and click anywhere on the image to zoom in. Similarly Alt + Spacebar keys and a click zooms out. You can also use the Ctrl + Spacebar keys and draw a marquee with the mouse to zoom in on a specific area.

Modify Selections On The Fly

While using the rectangular or the elliptical marquee tool you can use the Shift key to constrain proportions (get a square or a circle). Keeping the mouse button depressed you can use the Spacebar key to re-position the selection. Depressing the Alt key lets you create a selection from the center outwards.

If a selection already exists you can use the Shift key to add to the selection, Alt key to subtract from the selection and Shift + Alt to select only the common area of overlapping selections.

Hide The Selection

When you have a selection active you can use Ctrl + H to hide the selection. The selection is still there, only you can’t see the marching ants so that it lets you concentrate on the work. Hit Ctrl+H again to show the selection or you can deselect using Ctrl + D.

Merge All Layers To A New Layer

Very useful. Hit Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E and all the visible layers will be merged to a new layer, keeping all the layers intact. You can then work on the composite layer without affecting any of the other ones and discard it if something goes wrong.

Select A Layer Without The Layers Palette

Sometimes if you don’t name your layers as you move along you can find it difficult to find them in the composition, especially if there are lots of them. In such a case, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the image – the corresponding layer which houses that area will then be selected in the layers palette.

Do you have any Photoshop tips & tricks of your own? If so, then let us know all about them.

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  1. Shikeb Ali
    March 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Very informative and LOVED the eyedropper idea ... thanks for introducing it :D

  2. Caspar
    March 4, 2010 at 5:56 am

    When your typing in a text field, use CTRL+enter to deselect that text field. Very handy when editing multiple text fields.

    • Caspar
      March 4, 2010 at 5:57 am

      Oops, I mean CMD-enter...

  3. palsen
    January 11, 2010 at 11:56 am

    hey! :)
    always love photoshop-tips, thx!
    to zoom in or out you can also hit the Alt Key and scroll up or down ... :)

  4. Rihards
    January 10, 2010 at 2:59 am

    Thank you for the great tips, quite a few that I didn't know myself. Will sure come in handy. Thanks again.

  5. 4KDesign
    January 3, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for this tips!

    Just a short note: the "Select A Layer Without The Layers Palette" CTRL + click on the image layer selection method works with non-grouped layers only. When you have layer groups in the composition, the topmost group will be selected after the click.

    • Caspar
      March 4, 2010 at 5:59 am

      Use CTRL+ALT+click to select any layer, non grouped or grouped.

    December 31, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you for these tips & tricks. Important indeed to improve our skills in Photoshop!