A basketball coach once told me, “Practice makes permanent, not perfect,” and while basketball and Photoshop may not be the same thing, it’s been helpful advice. How you practice is how you’ll play…. Or in this case work. Practicing using Photoshop shortcuts is a good way to not only better understand the mechanics of Photoshop, but to become pro at using it. You’ll reduce the time you spend creating or editing designs and feel frustrated much less — trust me. To get you going, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tools and commands to help beginners get off on the right foot!
Let’s start with the basics
Every tool on your Photoshop tool bar has a corresponding command that makes it so you don’t have to move your mouse over and click what’s on the left hand side. For the most part, these commands are single letters, and for the most part they’re very intuitive.
Here are three of my favorite tools:
V | Move Tool
In Photoshop, there’s a tool for everything. Even for dragging, dropping, and resizing. That tool is the move tool and you can use it by typing V. I am constantly using V to relocate selected layers or resize shapes. It’s the most basic and most necessary tool.
T | Type Tool
The easiest way to access text or to create text is by clicking T and then typing away. Trying to edit text? Type T and then click right into it. It’s also a nice shortcut for selecting text layers instead of finding them on the right. (Of course, you can also use V + Control to help track down a layer, but we’ll get to that.)
W | MAGIC Wand Tool
I love this tool for many reasons. One, because I love that Adobe has named it the MAGIC Wand Tool, and two because it magically selects the what I want it to — saving me a lot of time and energy. The magic wand selects pictures based on tone and color.
Moving On Up
The tool bar is more about practice than anything else. It may seem time consuming at first, but forcing yourself to get comfortable switching between the tools with a click of the keyboard will save you loads of time once you’re neck deep in design. But for those of you who want to know where the special Photoshop shortcuts are, read on…
Command + Enter
Command + Enter is Photoshop’s simple way to approve any changes you just made. Are you done typing your line of text? Hit Command + Enter! Do you like how you just resized the shape? Command + Enter. By hitting “Command + Enter” you’ve secured your changes into place and can continue using the tool you were working with.
Command + T | Transform
Have a layer selected? Want to quickly move it to the left, or make it larger or slightly slimmer? Use “Command + T.” It allows you to transform the image however you want.
Bonus Tips: Want to keep the image the same ratio? Hold down “Shift” as you drag the corners and it won’t distort the shape. Want to keep it in the same ratio and place, but change it’s size? Hold “Shift + Alt” while in transform. Works like a charm!
Command + G | New Group
Don’t drag and drop your photos into a group — that takes time! Select all the layers you want (hold down Command and click the layers) and then once they’re all selected click Command + G. They’ll all be tucked into a nice, neat group for you. And groups are the bee’s knees.
V + Control | Find a Layer
Are you trying to locate a layer so you can edit it? Maybe you have a bunch of dots and you don’t want to click through every layer on the right side to figure out which is where. To select the dot you want, first make sure you’re in the “Move” tool (or click V), and then hold down Control and click the dot. A list of layers will appear, and the one you’re looking for will be highlighted.
Command + D | Deselect
This one’s pretty straightforward, but so useful. No need to ever navigate to the top again and click “Deselect.” When you’re done selecting a layer or part of a layer, just hit Command + D. Simple and effective.
Option/Alt or Command + Delete | Change Colors
One of my favorite commands allows you to switch the color of the object you’re working on with a simple click. Say I’m working on some text and I can’t decide if I want it to be maroon or black. So long as both of the colors I want to switch between are in my foreground and background colors, it’s a simple fix! Select the layer and click “Option/Alt + Delete” to make it the foreground color or “Command + Delete” to make it the background color.
D | Back to Black… And White
Speaking of those foreground and background colors, want to make them go back to black and white? Just tap D and the color palettes will reset.
X | Color Swap
Want to swap the foreground and background colors for whatever reason? Click X.
Shift + Alt + Command + S | Save For Web
While depending on your version of Photoshop, the option for “Save For Web” might be readily available nestled under the “File” tab, it’s a short cut that I use all the time. It allows you to save the image you’re creating in the format that’s best suited for your needs, and lets you do last minute resizing if needed. Check out my tips for saving images for web.