photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Photoshop keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet, a free spreadsheet download, plus a tutorial on how to create and modify your own keyboard shortcuts!

In part one of the series, I gave instructions on how to setup a custom workspace that suits your preferences and workflow style.

Now that you know how to work efficiently with customized workspaces, we will now look at a way to work efficiently with Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.

Photoshop’s Keyboard Shortcuts allows users the ability to quickly access tools, functions and effects without scrolling for them through menus, “more options” fly out panels and Tool Bar icons.

Some people consider mastery of Keyboard Shortcuts essential for professional imaging artists and believe that it’s mandatory to memorize and use them.

However, there are hundreds of them; a daunting task, plus most artists’ brains are visually oriented; they like to see and click on things and it’s perfectly acceptable to do so.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts

That being said, mastering Keyboard Shortcuts that are relevant to the style of work at hand speeds up workflow and eliminates the monotony of repetitive seeking and clicking.

In this article I am providing the ones most commonly used by photographers who use Photoshop to adjust and retouch their images.

I’m also confining the shortcuts to those that consist of 2-3 keys because I like to assign multiple key shortcuts to a Function key or as an option on my Wacom tablet.

To download all of the below shortcuts in a free spreadsheet, just click here.

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

piano photoshop keyboard shortcuts

When going for Keyboard Shortcuts that access specific tools and panels, press the first key and quickly the other as if you were playing a piano.

When using them to affect the way a tool or function is working, hold the key while accomplishing the task.

For File Handling

Open a file from a folderCtrl + OCommand + O
Save a file with a new name (Save As)Shift + Ctrl + SShift + Command + S
Save a file with new updates (Save)Ctrl + SCommand + S
Close a fileCtrl + WCommand + W
Close a file and open BridgeShift + Ctrl + WShift + Command + W
Make a new blank file / File NewCtrl + NCommand + N

For File Navigation

Fit image on screenCtrl + 0Command + 0
Zoom inCtrl +Command +
Zoom outCtrl –Command –
View / Hide extrasCtrl + HCommand + H
Drag image with Hand ToolSpacebar dragSpacebar drag
Fit image in windowDouble click Hand ToolDouble click Hand Tool
Rotate filePress and hold R and use stylus*Press and hold R and use stylus*
Reset rotationPress and hold R and choose reset from Main Menu Bar*Press and hold R and choose reset from Main Menu Bar*
Toggle screen modes forwardFF
Toggle screen modes reverseShift + FShift + F

* The Rotate Tool in the Tool Bar can be selected with Shift + R, but it requires another Keyboard Shortcut to get back to the Hand Tool, so pressing and holding the R key is generally faster.

For Image Adjustments

Image / Adjust / LevelsCtrl + LCommand + L
Image / Adjust / CurvesCtrl + MCommand + M
Image / Adjust / Hue SaturationCtrl + UCommand + U
Image / Adjust / Color balanceCtrl + BCommand + B
Image / Invert (also with layers and masks)Ctrl + ICommand + I
Accept image adjustmentEnterReturn
Cancel window without changeEscapeEscape

The above shortcuts apply the change to the selected layer as an all over adjustment.

To apply adjustments over the selected layer with the option to use Layer Masks, opacity, etc, select adjustment options from the Adjustment button located at the bottom of the Layers Window.

It looks like a circle, half white and half black.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts layers

Working With Layers

New Layer with window optionsShift + Ctrl + NShift + Command + N
Group layersCtrl + GCommand + G
Ungroup layersShift + Ctrl + GShift + Command + G
Merge selected layer downCtrl + ECommand + E
Create / Remove Clipping MaskAlt + Ctrl + GOption + Command + G
Add Layer Mask – Reveal AllClick on Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers window. It looks like a square with a circle in the middle of it.Click on Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers window. It looks like a square with a circle in the middle of it.
Add Layer Mask – Hide AllAlt + click on the Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers Window.Option + click on the Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers Window.
Invert Layer MaskCtrl + ICommand + I
New Layer via Copy from a selectionCtrl + JCommand + J
New Layer via Cut from a selectionShift + Ctrl + JShift + Command + J
Nudge what is on a layer by pixelsMove Tool – use arrows on keyboardMove Tool – use arrows on keyboard
Transform what is on a layerCtrl + TCommand + T
Distort Transformation BoxHold Ctrl and stretchHold Command and stretch
Rotate Transformation BoxDrag up and down outside the boxDrag up and down outside the box
Adjust size while constraining proportionHold Shift and use corner pointsHold Shift and use corner points
Change rotation axis pointMove center point to the area you want to rotate aroundMove center point to the area you want to rotate around
Accept TransformationEnterReturn
Cancel TransformationEscapeEscape

Working With Selections

Select AllCtrl + ACommand + A
DeselectCtrl + DCommand + D
ReselectShift + Ctrl + DShift + Command + D
Select / InverseShift + Ctrl + IShift + Command + I
Select All LayersShift + Ctrl + AShift + Command + A
Constrain Marquee to a squareHold down Shift and dragHold down Shift and drag
Constrain Elliptical to a circleHold down Shift and dragHold down Shift and drag
Draw Selection from the centerHold down Alt and dragHold down Option and drag
Constrain and draw from centerHold down Shift and Alt and dragHold down Shift and Option and drag
Add to a selectionHold down Shift and add what you wantHold down Shift and add what you want
Remove part of a selectionHold down Alt and draw the part you wish to removeHold down Option and draw the part you wish to remove
Nudge selection by pixelsArrow Keys – up, down, right, leftArrow Keys – up, down, right, left
Select Multiple Layers ContiguouslyHold down Shift + select the top and bottom onesHold down Shift + select the top and bottom ones
Select Multiple Layers non ContiguouslyHold Ctrl + click on each oneHold Command + click on each one
Use Lasso tool over large areaHold down Alt while drawingHold down Option while drawing

Working With Brushes

Constrain Brush Tool to a straight lineHold down Shift and click pointsHold down Shift and click points
Increase Brush SizeBracket key – right oneBracket key – right one
Decrease Brush SizeBracket key – left oneBracket key – left one
Choose Brush Opacity by %Number keys (1=10%, 2=20% etc)Number keys (1=10%, 2=20% etc)
Undo the last thing doneCtrl + ZCommand + Z

The tools located in the Vertical Tool Bar may also be accessed using Keyboard Shortcuts, or by just clicking on the one you want visually.

Many of these tool boxes contain multiple options within that may be scrolled through just by repeatedly clicking the Keyboard Shortcut for that tool.

Photoshop Tool Shortcuts

Move Tool BoxV
Marquee Tool BoxM
Lasso Tool BoxL
Quick Selection Tool BoxW
Crop and Slice Tool BoxC
Eyedropper Sampler Ruler Tool BoxI
Healing Brush Tool BoxJ
Brush Tool BoxB
Clone Stamp Tool BoxS
History Brush Tool BoxY
Eraser Tool BoxE
Gradient Fill Tool BoxG
Dodge Burn Tool BoxO
Pen Tool BoxP
Text Tool BoxT
Path Selection Tool BoxA
Shapes Tool BoxU
Hand ToolH
Rotate ToolR
Default Color Box to black and whiteD
Exchange foreground and background colorsX

When you are learning to use Keyboard Shortcuts, take it easy! Don’t try to learn them all at once; master a few of them and then add a few more.

I’d suggest starting with easy navigation shortcuts, like:

  • Zoom In
  • Zoom Out
  • Fit on Screen
  • File Save
  • File Close
  • Toggle Screen Mode (I suggest working in Full Screen Mode with Menu Bar)

Then add:

  • Brush Opacity
  • Brush Size
  • New Layer
  • New Layer via Copy
  • Add Layer Mask
  • Edit / Transform
  • Add Adjustment Layer

From there, add more according to the tools and functions you use the most.

Create/Modify Your Own Custom Photoshop Shortcuts

If you want to modify an existing Photoshop shortcut or create custom Photoshop shortcuts for commands that have no default shortcut, follow the instructions below:

In Photoshop, go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, or hit Alt + Shift + Ctrl + K (a shortcut to access the shortcut!)

photoshop keyboard shortcuts edit

Within the Keyboard Shortcuts window, choose a shortcut type from the “Shortcuts For:” drop down menu.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts

  • Application Menus: Customize keyboard shortcuts for items in the menu bar
  • Panel Menus: Customize keyboard shortcuts for items in panel menus
  • Tools: Customize keyboard shortcuts for tools in the toolbox

Once you find the command that you want to create/modify, click on the blue arrow to view the existing shortcuts.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts blue arrow

To modify – click on an existing shortcut and you’ll be able to modify it with your own personalized shortcut.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts modify

To create – click on the blank space next to a command and you’ll be able to create your own personalized shortcut.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts create

If you want to undo a change, press the undo button, or Ctrl + Z.

Once you’re finished with customizing your own shortcuts, click on the OK button and it will save into the Photoshop Defaults set.

If you want to create your own set (not save into the Photoshop Defaults set), simply click on the save icon on the top and you’ll be able to name and save your personalized set.

photoshop keyboard shortcuts save

Closing Thoughts

photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts are designed to help you cut down on the time spent navigating the software so you can concentrate on the creative part of imaging.

Don’t feel like a dummy if you don’t know them all – the important part of digital imaging is the beautiful results you produce with your imagination and mastery of the tools and functions to create art.

Keyboard Shortcuts just help you get there a little faster!

janes photo

Jane Conner-ziser is an award winning photographer, digital artist, premier educator and independent consultant. With over 25 years of experience, 19 of them in digital imaging and evolving technologies, the techniques Jane developed for facial retouching and enhancement and portrait painting from photographs are widely emulated by photographers and digital artists worldwide through her classes, online training and educational products. You can learn more on her website.