Spend less time digging through menus and more time creating digital magic!
Whether you’re a recreational user, beginner or an experienced Photoshop pro, there are countless ways to improve your workflow and operate more efficiently. The answer: keyboard shortcuts, also commonly known as hot keys.
While there’s a default hot key command assigned to most single keys and various key combinations, below are a few more useful ones that you might want to consider committing to memory if they aren’t already part of your workflow. To view all of the shortcuts via Photoshop itself, you can go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts (or use its own hot key, Shift + Option (Alt) + Command + K).
PRO TIP: Within the Keyboard Shortcuts window, you can make your own hot keys for commands. This can be useful for commands or functions that you often use but don’t already have hot keys assigned to it. If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a keyboard that has a numerical key extension (the 10-key number pad to the right of a standard keyboard) you can use these keys with any modifiers to create a new hot key under keyboard shortcuts. Since these number keys are not attached to all keyboards, they are not programmed to the default shortcuts, nor do they act as the same number keys above the standard keyboard.
Toggle Quick Mask ( Q )
Looking to clip out a cat’s head and place it on your friend’s body? Using the lasso too will get you only so far—with this hot key, you can get your basic lasso area set, then quickly toggle to the Quick Mask, brush out more detail, then return to make your final selection.
Toggle Brush Size ( [ and ] )
If you’re doing a lot of painting, cloning or stamping, this is a huge time saver when sizing your brush for big areas down to 1px details without having to open up a menu.
Rotate View Tool ( R )
This guy comes in handy when you’re painting with textured brushes and need a new angle to hit the canvas with, or vary patterns and paint splatters, rather than just having the flat brush repeated over and over.
Toggle Lock Layer ( Highlight Layer + Command + / )
A timesaver if your workflow involves locking and unlocking layers that you don’t want to alter during your photoshopping.
Free Transform ( Command + T )
Downsize (or upsize if you’re dealing with a vector), skew, stretch or distort your layer to fit the size it needs to be.
Step Backwards ( Command + Option + Z )
Most everyone knows the “undo” command, but with this hot key, you can go back farther than just your last mistake.
Step Forwards ( Shift + Option + Z )
Get too trigger happy with taking steps backwards and go too far into the past? Modify the key combo to move forward in your history. Be careful though, if you go back and start editing content, your previous future will be over-written.
New Layer Via Copy ( Highlight Layer + Command + J )
Enjoy getting crazy with filters, absurd effects, and merging layers? Well, this is an easy way to do it without having to sacrifice your original layer. Just in case something goes wrong, you have something to fall back on.
Cycle Through Layer Blending Modes ( Highlight Layer + Shift + – /+ )
If you’re one of those people who likes using layer blending but doesn’t know exactly what each mode does, you can quickly cycle through them to get your desired effect.
Cycle Between Multiple Documents ( Command + ~ )
Back to that cat-friend collage you are doing—if you have your friend’s awkward senior picture open in one tab and the world’s cutest kitten in another, you can jump between the documents to copy and paste the head or torso that you’ve clipped out in the blink of an eye!
NOTE: These shortcuts are for Mac OS, but PC users can switch out the “option” key for the “alt” key.