Shop Talk

9 Best Photoshop Shortcuts to Improve Workflow

By using keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop you can cut down on wasted time and get into a rhythm which will make your editing and post-production more about the art and less about wrangling software. A good piece of advice I was given for editing in Photoshop was to often pause to zoom out (Command+ – ) so that I could see what I was really doing, a bit like walking to the other side of the room to actually look at a painting or drawing. These tools help us see an effect, get a feel for the artwork, and allows us more time to literally look at the bigger picture.

One note: These shortcuts are for PS6 on a Mac. 


Up & Down Keys = brush size change

Forget numbers and sliders, using your up and down keys (who knew they were good for anything apart from running in games?) to increase and decrease the size of your brushes. You have to have selected the brush tool to use this, but once you’re in it will save a lot of time finicking back and forth with your mouse.


Find hidden tools = "letter" + Shift

If you want to open up tools hit the letter they start with — for example “B” for “Brush” and “P” for “Pen” tools. You can use this for Zoom, Full Screen, Hand, Move (V), Lasso, Wand, Crop, Clone stamp (S), Gradient, Dodge (O) and many, many more.



Control + spacebar / Alt + spacebar = Switch to zoom in / zoom out

This is a fun one to play with. You can zoom in and out easily with this shortcut and easily drop the shortcut to make another edit before starting again. This is paired nicely with the shortcut Command + – to zoom out, or Command + + to zoom in.


Crt+Alt+Shift+E = flatten and keep existing layers

Instead of searching through a huge drop down menu, use this when you’re done with your image before exporting it. This shortcut means you can have the best of both worlds – flattening and image while keeping all the layers you’ve worked on in tact and accessible if you need to get back into them.


H + spacebar = temporarily zoom in an image

This shortcut only works while you’re actively holding down the keys — so it’s best used as a quick inspection for a second or two. This really does speed up your workflow by allowing you to gracefully duck in and out of areas of the image without having to clumsily navigate around. Use it to check on blurring and focusing and when looking for areas to come back to work on.


Command+Shift+] = bring layer to front

An oldie but a goodie, the ever faithful Command+Shift+] means that you’ll never have to slow down once you’ve imported a new layer again. Hit the ground running and hit Command+[ to send the layer to the back if you want the opposite effect.


Option+Right/Left Arrow = increase / decrease kerning in text

This will save you so much time, decrease or increase the size of text between lettering. To align your text in the Centre, Right or Left go Command+Shift+L/C/R. And to increase or decrease your text size by 2 points go Command + Shift + >/<.


Command + U = Hue/ Saturation

This one is pretty self explanatory, as you can imagine by hitting this you bring up the menus to alter the hue and saturation of an image. This is great so you’re not mucking around with too many different color menus, and you can also hit Command + M to bring up the Curves menu.


Command + Option + A = Select all layers

To select all your layers hit Command + Option + A, which will save you heaps of time if you’ve got 20 layers with painstaking detail in them to collect. To just select two or more layers, hit option and use your mouse to click on the layers you’d like selected.

"Escape Space Time" by Mustapha Kamel

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop? Which cut saved you oodles of time? We’d love to hear your best shortcuts in the comments below. 

And if you have’t already, check out our very recent tutorial on making light leaks in Photoshop.