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

A 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).

  1. Zoom %1600 in to your canvas.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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-keys 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.

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 [email protected]
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

- James Middleton

*This tutorial was originally published on James Middleton's website, Turning Turnip which is located at A special thanks goes out to James and his contributions to Artistic Genesis.

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