If you’ve used Photoshop for any length of time, you owe it to yourself to learn and use a few keyboard shortcuts. Using them will speed up your workflow, especially for repetitive tasks. Keyboard shortcuts can also be used to invoke commands that *don’t* have a specific keyboard shortcut, as I will explain shortly.
You can find a comprehensive list of Photoshop keyboard shortcuts online. I won’t bother repeating the whole list here, but here are a few well-worn shortcuts I use day-to-day. I will be outlining Mac keyboard shortcuts below, but with the appropriate substitutions you can use them just as effectively within the Windows version. (Note: Cmd on Mac can be substituted with Ctrl on Windows, and Option on Mac can be substituted by Alt on Windows).
So without further ado, here are my most often used Photoshop keyboard shortcuts:
Cmd-O (Open a File)
Cmd-N (Create a new PS Document)
Shift-Cmd-N (Make a new layer)
Cmd-J (duplicates a layer / duplicates a selection)
Cmd-U (Invokes the Hue / Saturation panel)
Cmd-T (Transforms an existing selection)
Shift-Cmd-Option-E (flattens layers into one layer, but preserves all existing layers) – this is safer than flattening all layers into one via Cmd-E
Cmd-G (Groups layers into a Layer folder)
Cmd-S (Saves an open PS file)
Cmd-A (Selects All)
Cmd-Z (Undo) (Probably my favorite)
I use the following keyboard shortcuts to access the Toolbox:
B (brush tool)
M (Rectangular/Elliptical Marquee tool) NOTE: Shift-M will toggle between the two.
U (Shape tool)
L (Lasso tool) NOTE: Shift-L will toggle between the different Lasso tools
C (Crop tool)
W (Magic Wand tool)
[ (decreases brush size)
] (increases brush size)
As I mentioned earlier – these are the keyboard shortcuts I use every day, for the type of work I do.
You can also customize Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs, by going to the Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts menu. This, in my opinion, has made all the difference in upping my Photoshop productivity.
Are you annoyed by the seemingly limited Undo (Cmd-Z), which only cycles back to the last performed step?
So I fixed it. Photoshop has a command called Step Backward, which lets you cycle back multiple times. This works the way Undo should work, in my opinion, but the keyboard shortcut is mapped to Shift-Cmd-Z.
Not wanting to have to hit 3 keys to achieve my perfect vision of Undo, I reassigned Cmd-Z to Step Backward and assigned Shift-Cmd-Z for Undo. When I hit Cmd-Z, Step Backward does its thing, which is what I really want. At last, I have my multiple Undos! (This tip alone has erased one of my biggest pet peeves with Photoshop – the lack of a multiple Undo with Cmd-Z.)
Here are a few custom keyboard shortcuts I’ve assigned:
Gaussian Blur (Option-F6)
Color Halftone (Cmd-F6)
So there you have it – my favorite Photoshop keyboard shortcuts. There’s more to say about my Photoshop workflow but I’ll save that for another blog post.
P.S. If you’re new to Photoshop, I would strongly recommend checking out this excellent primer on Photoshop tools and techniques.