20 Most Useful Photoshop Shortcut Keys that Save Your Time

Keyboard Shortcuts are keystrokes used to quickly invoke a command. In Photoshop, to move around quicker that your fellow colleagues or friends, how about starting with mastering the Tools; the most important element in Photoshop, from my point of view. In this post I’m going to focus on some Photoshop shortcuts that I tend to use more often than others.

Tools and Resources

1. V = Move Tool

The move tool moves a selection or an entire layer around on the canvas. Access the move tool by clicking the arrow icon at the top of the tool bar or press V as the keyboard shortcut.

2. B or SHIFT B = Brush/ Pencil

The pencil tool is nothing more than a rip off from the brush tool. In fact all it really consists of is a 1 pixel brush tool tip.

3. P = Pen

The Pen Tool makes appearances across almost the entire Adobe product range. Its function and behavior varies depending on the application, but by mastering it youll find you work quicker, smoother and with better results.

4. A = Anchor Selection

The Add Anchor Point Tool adds anchors and reshapes existing vector shapes / paths (shape outlines).

5. T = Text Tool

Whenever you want to add text to a Photoshop document, whether it’s a single letter or several lengthy paragraphs, you use Photoshop’s Type Tool, which is found along with all of Photoshop’s other tools in the Tools palette.

6. Z = Zoom in

Use the Zoom tool or the View menu commands to zoom in or zoom out of an image. When you use the Zoom tool, each click magnifies or reduces the image to the next preset percentage and centers the display around the point you click.

7. O = Burn/ Dodge Tool

I think two of the most misunderstood tools found in most editing programs are the dodge and burn brushes. Too many people don’t use them at all, and too many people who do use them do so incorrectly.

8. CTRL + = Zoom Document

When working in Photoshop, it often helps to be able to zoom in close to certain areas of an image, or to pull back and get more of a bird’s eye view of what’s happening.

9. CTRL – = Zoom Out Document

To zoom out with the Zoom Tool, hold down your Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key. With the key held down, you’ll see the plus sign in the center of the magnifying glass change to a minus sign (-), letting you know that the tool is now in “zoom out” mode.

10. ALT [ = Go to Previous Layer

To quickly select the bottom layer in the Layers palette (including the Background layer), press Shift+Alt+[.

11. ALT ] = Go to Next Layer

Another way to select multiple layers that are all directly above or below each other is to hold Here’s one that’s just for people using Photoshop CS and earlier, since it no longer works in Photoshop CS2 or higher. To quickly select the top layer in the Layers palette, press Shift+Alt+] (Win) / Shift+Option+] (Mac).

12. CTRL + C = Copy

When you choose Edit>Copy, or type Command-C (Mac), or Ctrl-C (Win), Photoshop will copy the currently selected area of the active layer.

13. CTRL + V = Paste

If you want to control where the image is pasted, then make a selection first and Photoshop will center the pasted image on the current selection. If you want to paste something into the corner of an image, make a tiny selection that touches the corner and Photoshop will attempt to center the pasted information on that selection, but it will not let any part of it extend beyond the edge of the document.

14. Ctrl + Click Mask = Selects The White Part of The Mask

So what are layer masks then? Well, if the term “mask” is what’s confusing you (and who could blame you), replace the word “mask” in your mind with “transparency”, because that’s exactly what a layer mask does. It allows you to control a layer’s level of transparency.

15. Command + Option + Drag = Transform Again With Duplicate Data

If you did the combination of command-option-shift click while in the curves adjustment window, it would mark those points on all channels so you could then make adjustments to that one place. That seems to be gone. Is it? Is there a replacement? That click/drag curve point is not what I’m needing.

16. Shift + Arrow

Move The Selected Point 10 Units.

17. Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R

Bring up The Rotate Dialog to Straighten out your Horizon.

18. Shift + A

Point Selection

19. Ctrl + Alt + J

You can duplicate an entire layer, or, if you have a selection, the selection will be duplicated to it’s own layer. This is great when trying different techniques or effects without having to worry about errors.

20. Ctrl + Alt + Z

Most programs allow you to press [Ctrl + Z] multiple times to perform multiple Undo’s, but Photoshop requires [Alt], otherwise you’ll just keep undoing then re-doing then undoing then re-doing then undoing then re-doing.