Make Your Life Easier with a few Photoshop Functions

By LaurenMarie

Seeing as the last post on Essential Photoshop Shortcuts was pretty popular, I thought I’d share a few more, this time for the functions I use most often and find most valuable to have as shortcuts.

The Biggies

Ctrl+S is probably THE most important! It’s the command for Save and if you’ve been in the graphics industry any amount of time, your fingers probably do this by habit without you realizing it!

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S is the Save for Web shortcut.
Ctrl+Shift+S will let you access the Save As dialog box (it’s always good to save out versions of a file as you work on it, just in case one gets corrupted or you make a mistake that you can’t undo for some reason).

Ctrl+Z is probably the second most important (oh how I wish life had one of these!). It allows you to undo the last thing you did. If you press it again, it acts as redo. If you want to go back farther than one step, use the History Palette.

You probably already know that Ctrl+A is Select All (the whole canvas), Ctrl+X is Cut selection and Ctrl+V is Paste, but did you know you can also do a Copy Merged (grabs everything from every layer within the selection) by hitting Ctrl+Shift+C? This is useful when you need to take a color corrected image into a new Photoshop document and you don’t want all the adjustment layers coming with it.

Other Nice Ones to Know

Similarly, Ctrl+Shift+E will merge all visible layers together (the new layer will retain the name of the top most layer that was merged). This is a very helpful function for things like going from RBG to CMYK, where some adjustment layers (like Brightness/Contrast) will not transfer to CMYK.

[ or ] resizes the brush of tools like Brush, Eraser, Dodge/Burn,Healing and Clone Stamp. Holding shift with the brackets changes the brush’s hardness. You can also change the opacity by pressing 0 – 9 (if you are not in a tool with a brush, pressing 0 – 9 will change the opacity of the currently selected layer). And while we’re on brushes, use the context sensitive menu (right click to bring it up) while in a brush tool to change the brush shape. You can also use this menu to change the diameter and the hardness, but you’d use the shortcuts for that!

How annoying is it to have to go Edit>Preferences>Units and Rulers every time you want to go from pixels to inches (or centimeters for the rest of the world)? Never do that again! Just bring up the Ruler (R) and then right click on it to see all the different units you can measure in! You can also get to this on the Info Palette next to the X/Y coordinate readout. Just left click on the crosshair icon (looks like a plus) to the left of the coordinates.

Give yourself more screen area to work with by pressing Tab (or Shift+Tab to make everything except the Tools Palette go away. But you shouldn’t need to see that because you’ve already memorized all the shortcuts, right??)

Take It Easy!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all these new Photoshop key commands, take it easy. There’s no need to begin using them all the next time you open Photoshop. Just pick one or two to work on each day or week (depending on how often you’re in PS). Make a conscious effort to use the shortcut instead of the menu or button you normally use. It may take you a few seconds to try to remember the keys, but eventually this will become much faster and you’ll pick up speed and efficiency as your fingers learn these strokes. Oh, and if you’re really wanting to see how well you know how to get around Photoshop without the menus, try hitting tab to make them all go away! Can you convert a path to a selection without the Path Palette?

Let me know if I’ve missed any important ones! There are so many hundreds more function shortcuts and I’m sure I don’t know them all! Did you find this list helpful? Did you know most of this already? Have you begun memorizing the shortcuts I shared last week?

More shortcuts: