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Are you a designer on a deadline? If you are, chances are that you can probably recall the last time you thought to yourself, if only I had a little more time, I could... what? Polish that CTA button? Find a better hero image? Re-evaluate that color palette? The truth is, however, that as designers we will always be looking for more time to polish the one pixel that got away. But rather than begging our project managers for more time on our projects, its important that we look at our own workflows to see if there are other ways for us to gain just a little more time. So without further ado, we thought wed share with you our best Photoshop tricks and shortcuts that we constantly use in the office to help trim some of that excess time spent pushing pixels around.

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Opacity shortcuts
Tapping 1 through 0 will give you opacities between 10% to 100%. Tapping multiple numbers in quick succession, however, will give you that specific opacity percentage (i.e., tapping 5 and 6 quickly will get you a 56% opacity level).

Fill opacity shortcuts

Holding down shift and tapping 1 through 0 will give you fill levels between 10% to 100%. The same applies here where tapping multiple numbers in quick succession of one another will give you specific fill percentages.

Layer Blend Mode Shortcuts

Normal (Shift + Option + N), Multiply (Shift + Option + M), Screen (Shift + Option + S), Overlay (Shift + Option + O), Soft Light (Shift + Option + F), Saturation (Shift + Option + v), Color (Shift + Option + C), and Luminosity (Shift + Option + Y).

Cycle through Blend Modes Shortcut

If you like cycling through various blending modes for quick experimenting, this shortcut allows for you to move up and down your current layers blending mode. Note that if youre in any of the retouching/ painting tools, it will cycle through the blending properties of that retouching/painting tool.

The Usual Keyboard Shortcut Suspects 5

Flipping Foreground & Background

Setting Default White Foreground & Black Background

Quickly accessing black or white will be necessary for many occasions, including a quick layer masking, or brushing highlights and shadows onto objects. This shortcut defaults your current foreground to black and background to white.

Adjusting Size and Hardness of Brush Tools

Brush tool shortcuts for adjusting the size and hardness of brush tools: Hit the bracket keys, [ or ], to change the size of your brush. Hold down shift when using the bracket keys to adjust the hardness of your brush in 25% intervals.

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Hiding and showing rules and grids

Fast Editing with Hue/Saturation

Fast editing with Hue/Saturation (Option + Command + U), Levels (Option + Command + L), and Curves (Option + Command + M): Quick pixel editing is sometimes a necessary thing to do in a PSD. Even if youre just trying to experiment or see how certain pixels can be manipulated, try utilizing these fast shortcuts to adjust hue, saturation, lightness, levels, and curves on the fly!

Shift + Anything for Incremental Nudging

While you may already know that Shift + any Arrow Key incrementally nudges an object by 10 pixels, did you know that holding down Shift + Arrow Key in certain windows in Photoshop can also allow for 10% nudges? Try holding Shift + Up or Down Arrow on any number input field in Photoshop (like the font size input field or any number input field in a layer styles panel).

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Flip Horizontally and Flip Vertically

Try custom binding Flip Horizontally to Shift + Command + H (for horizontal!) and Shift + Command + J (since V is so commonly used for pasting) for Flip Vertically.

Convert Point Tool

This is a powerful and useful tool when dealing with any sort of paths/shape layers in Photoshop. It also shares similar functionality to its sister tool in Illustrator so if you want to maintain a little more consistency between the two programs, consider binding this tool to C (which is currently the crop tool but well get to that in our next point).

Edit > Crop

Think about how useful it would be to simply make a selection and crop with that selection instead. Utilizing the general crop function can be a valuable asset to have. Consider assigning a shortcut to this editing function such as Shift + Option + Command + C.

Custom Must Have Shortcuts 9



All Caps

Aside from using Underline (command+shift+U), this will be your go to for making certain parts of your typography all caps.

Faux Bold & Faux Italic

If your font has a bold or italic weight, this shortcut will toggle between the font familys weight. Otherwise, itll simply add a faux weight style to your font selection.

Leading, Tracking, & Kerning

If youre a typography machine, these shortcuts will turn your bland paragraphs into beautiful print-quality works of art!

Make Photoshop More Like a Word Processor 11

Command + Enter = Commit Anything

Instead of hitting that annoying little check box on the top menu bar, if you use this shortcut, youll be able to exit out of Type Tool editing mode. As a bonus, this shortcut also works for committing Transform edits as well!

Add Space After (or Before) Paragraph

Under the paragraph window, you can designate how much spacing a paragraph has after the paragraph is completed. No more double indenting to get the pseudo content separation youre looking for.

Fast Cycling Through Fonts

Trying to see which font would work best for that header copy? Select the text layer youd like to adjust, make sure the text tool is active, and simply click on the font names input field. Once this field is highlighted, you can simply hit the Up and Down Arrow to cycle through your various fonts. You can also hit certain letters to jump through to various parts of your font library.

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Merge One or More Layers

For a quick merging of one or more selected layers (and they dont have to be adjacent to one another), hit Command + E to merge them up. All of the merged items will merge upward and assume the layer name of the top-most selected layer.

Create a NonDestructive Flattened Image

An absolute favorite go-to. Rather than simply merging all of your PSDs layers with Shift + Command + E, you can create a flattened image of your entire PSD on top of your existing layers. Sure your fingers will be doing quite a curl, but its well worth it!

Group layers

Groups are a must for layer organization and any sort of collaborative work with other people. Select multiple layers and use this shortcut to group like items together. It reduces the scrolling work youll have to do in your layers panel and might aid in moving around, applying masks to, and correctly utilizing multiple layers at one time.

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Layer linking

Just right click on the selected layers youd like to link and choose Link Layers. Linked layers dont have to be next to each other. Linked layers will always move together if one of the linked layers is being moved. Similarly, linked layers will maintain the move-centric lock attributes (Lock Position and Lock All) that any of its other linked layers may have.

Select Multiple Layers via Selection

If youre trying to move multiple layers within a given selection on your canvas, activate the Move tool and then hold down Shift + Option + Command and drag your cursor (it will create a rectangular selection marquee) over the area you wish to select multiple layers of.

Easy Hiding & Showing of Multiple Layers

If you have a section of layers you wish to show or hide quickly, you can click and hold down on a visibility symbol (the eye), and drag your mouse across the layers you wish to quickly toggle on or off. With this trick, you can either drag straight up or down the visibility symbols OR you can even weave around some visibility symbols that you dont want to toggle so long as youre still holding down and dragging!

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See All Corresponding Layers at Given Pixel

Although Shift + Option + Command + dragging to select is a great way of selecting multiple layers at once via a selection; if you right click on the canvas and you will be given a menu list of all of the layers that have a visible pixel in that exact pixel location.

Selects All Visible Pixels On Any Layer, Path, or Mask

To select all visible pixels in any given layer, path, or mask (layer or vector based), hold down Command and click on the thumbnail in the layers panel to create your selection. For example, selecting a vector mask will select all path shapes within the mask, and selecting a layer with some brushed elements will select all of the brushed pixels on that particular layer. If you wish to make multiple selections, simply hold down Shift and click on any additional thumbnails.

Temporarily hide the effects of the layer or vector mask

Temporarily hide the effects of the layer or vector mask: To temporarily disable a layer or vector mask, Shift + click on the masks thumbnail to toggle the mask on and off.

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Shift + dragging with direct select tool

This enables you to create selection boxes which allows for easier selection of bezier points (rather than having to click on them individually!). Remember you can hold down shift to click + drag multiple points.

Keyboard Shortcut for Moving Between Layers

If youre working in the same layers, why not utilize a keyboard shortcut to quickly maneuver to the layer you need to be on rather than moving over to the Layers Panel and individually clicking each layer?

Keyboard Shortcut for Moving Layers

You can also quickly move a selected layer up or down the layers panel. And if you need to simply move a layer to the top or bottom of your layers panel, hold down Shift + Command + [ (move to bottom) or ] (move to top).

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Toggle Between Screen Modes Using F

Tap F once to toggle to Full Screen Mode with a Menu Bar. Tap F again to toggle to Full Screen Mode (automatically turns your gray artboard area black). And Tap F one last time to bring you back to your working Standard Screen Mode.

View Actual Pixels

Fit on Screen

Quick & Easy

Zoom in and out using option + mouse wheel/scroll

Spacebar + Click to Pan

An easy way of panning up, down, left, or right. Dont forget to take advantage of the auto-easing effect Photoshop has upon mouse click release!

View PSD in Two Windows Simultaneously

Seeing two views of the same PSD simultaneously comes in very handy. For example, you could be working on a homepage at 100% zoom on your main screen but have a full-window and zoomed out view of the entire homepage on another screen. It helps let you see the forest through the trees, especially when your heads staring down at individual pixels of a design.

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Easy Clipping Masks

If you want to quickly clip two adjacent layers together, hold down Option and hover your pointer between two layers. It will clip the upper layer to the lower layer.

Copying Layer Styles and Effects

If Hold down Option and drag the fx symbol with the effects you want to copy over to the layer you wish to copy the layer effects to. It will duplicate all of the layer styles of the first layer over to the different layer. Additionally, if you only want to copy one particular style (such as a Drop Shadow) from one layer to another, simply click the actual name of the effect itself (in this case Drop Shadow) and Option + drag that effect over to the layer of your choice.

Optimizing the Option Key 21

Copy Layer Masks and Vector Masks to other layers and groups

Did you know that you can also Option + drag Layer Masks and Vector Masks onto other layers and groups? Simply select the actual thumbnail of the Layer or Vector Mask and Option + Drag it over to the desired layer or group.

Unlock a Locked Background Property

Option + double clicking on a background lock unlocks the background property.

Fast Eyedropper

In addition to its normal useful shortcut (I), if youre in any of the retouching/painting tools (such as the brush tool) you can easily switch your cursors tool function into a quick eyedropper by simply holding Option.

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Save for Web & Devices

As cramped as your hand might get from reaching to hit all of the keys for this shortcut, the price is worth the time saved since youll often be utilizing this when saving out your PSD.

Close an Individual PSD Window

If youve got multiple PSD windows open that youre jumping between and you need to quickly close one the PSDs, instead of aiming for that ridiculously small close button, try using Command + W to close that individual PSD instead. And if you get that annoying little fail-safe window for when youre closing an unsaved PSD, why not save a click by hitting S (for Save), C (for Cancel) or D (for Dont Save)?

Adding or subtracting from selections

If you want to do more than one marquee selection at one time, hold down Shift to add more selections or Option to subtract from your existing selections.

Things You Should Be Doing More 24

HUD Color Picker via Mouse instead of Color Picker via toolbar

A nice new feature of CS5 has been the convenient implementation of being able to access the color picker without breaking a workflow (via the normal Color Picker window that you have to click to open). Simply hold down Control + Option + Command and click while using a tool from the retouching/ painting section of the toolbar to activate the new Color Picker. You can also customize the view of this Color Picker in the General tab of the Photoshop Preferences Panel.

Use Smart Objects

Smart objects are great in that they preserve the original state of an object before being converted to a smart object. Theyre also useful in that you can create duplicates of a single smart object (like a button), make a change within the original smart objects PSB file, and then have that change affect all of the duplicate instances of the smart object. To create a smart object, simply select the layer(s) you wish to combine into a single object, right click in the layers panel, and select Convert to Smart Object.

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Use Smart Filters

If you love using filters, you will love using smart filters. Not only are smart filters non-destructive, but the smart filter gallery view allows you to see what a layer would look like with multiple filters stacked together, and once youre done saving the filters, you can turn them off easily by accessing their visibility in the layers panel. Lastly, one of the greatest things about smart filters is that they come with Filter Masks which act just like Layer Masks, so you can mask away parts of the filter if you so choose!

Save Layer Styles and Patterns

Youve probably made that same button style over a dozen times now, so why not simply save that layer style setting and apply it whenever you need to? The New Styles button is placed right below the OK and Cancel buttons in the Layer Styles panel but its often overlooked. Simply craft your layer styles, hit the New Styles button and save your layer style into your presets. If you want to apply that layer style again in the future, simply go back to the layer styles panel, click Styles on the top of the left navigation bar, click on the style you created, and hit OK! You can also manage your styles as well as other presets through the Preset Manager via Edit > Preset Manager

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Snapshots and Layer Comps

Stop turning groups and layers on and off to see what your design would look like with different changes and compositions. Utilize Snapshots to take a temporarily saved history instances of your PSDs state; or, consider using layer comps to save specific states of visibility, position, and layer styles that you can go back to at any time in the PSD.

Snap to Pixels

Last but one of the most important, whenever using paths or shape layers, be sure to enable this option to ensure pixel-perfect designs. And when you do decide to move around those shapes, avoid Transform + moving these elements as different zoom levels make them susceptible to being placed in between pixels (rather than being locked in line with the next available pixel)!

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We hope you enjoyed reading A Collection of Photoshop Tricks for a FastPaced Work Environment. The contents of this eBook can also be found on our blog, where we strive to publish and promote betterment through all things design and web centered. Everything you read in this book and on our blog is based on our own knowledge and experience. We like to provide practical insights that help our audience improve their design skills and consider the world through a lens of design.


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