10 Awesome Photoshop Tricks, Tips, Shortcuts

150 150 Derek Kimball

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Sampling colors outside of Photoshop:

Have you ever attempted to sample a color outside of Photoshop (ex: website page) using the “eye dropper” tool? If so, you are aware of the tool’s unwillingness to do so by default. There is an easy solution however. First, make sure your “eye dropper” tool is selected. From inside your Photoshop document window, click, hold, and drag your mouse to the color you are wanting. The tool will now allow you to sample a color from anywhere on your screen.

Duplicating Layer Styles More Quickly:

The right click method of “copy layer style” / “paste layer style” works just fine, but a much quicker way of duplicating a layer style is to:

• Locate the layer that has the layer style you are wanting to duplicate. You will see a “fx” icon.
• Hold down your “alt” key (“option” on mac) and click/drag on that fx” icon, to which ever other layers you are wanting that layer style applied. Simple huh?

Transform Your Marquee Selections:

When you use the rectangular marquee tool (M) in Photoshop, you are only given the option to create a rectangle or square that is perfectly vertical and horizontal. But what if you want to create a selection that is at an angle? Simply go to the “Select” menu drop down and choose “transform selection”. Now you can rotate, scale, and stretch your selection.

Function settings time saver:

Many of the changes or actions you make in Photoshop, require you to accept or decline your changes in form of an “ok” or “cancel” button. Holding down the “alt” key (option key on mac), will turn the “cancel” button into a “reset” button. This proves useful when you are making changes and decide you don’t like those changes. Instead of having to cancel out of the window and start over, this reset option will save you time.

Preserve Layer Transparency:

At the top of the Layers palette, is a little check-box called “Preserve Transparency” that probably gets ignored more than it should. What this does is basically protect a layer’s transparent pixels from being modified. This is great for when you want to paint over a feathered area for example. You are enabled to paint on non-transparent sections without the worry of filling the transparent areas. Play around with this feature if you haven’t yet…it can be quite useful.

Temporarily Hide Photoshop’s Marching Ants:

Photoshop’s method of showing an active selection is commonly referred to as the “marching ants”. Sometimes, when working with intricate selections, the marching ants tend to get in the way visually; making it difficult to see how well a color fill worked for example. Try this time saving tip: Ctrl-H will hide the marching ants selection (just because it’s hidden, don’t forget the selection is still active). Hitting Ctrl-H again, will make the selection re-appear.

Improve cursor precision when drawing:

When drawing in Photoshop, sometimes a little precision is necessary. Hitting the “caps-lock” key on your keyboard will turn your cursor into a cross-hair, allowing you a little extra control with your brush placements.

Quit playing hide n’ seek with control handles:

It’s extremely annoying when you drag a large image into a smaller document, to find that the control handles are no where to be seen. I’m referring to the control handles used for scaling and rotating. The difficult solution is to zoom way out until you see the handles. The simple solution is to go to “View > Fit on screen”.

Hide All Layers Except One:

This can be useful in so many ways. Simply holding down the “alt” key on your keyboard (option key on mac), and clicking on the eye icon of a layer, will hide all other layers except for that layer.

Don’t wait for large PSD files to open:

Large Photoshop psd files can take forever to load. On certain occasions you may find yourself simply wanting to take a screenshot of a psd file for portfolio reasons, or you just want to quickly preview the file.

Rather than waiting for the file to load, save yourself some time by using this cool trick: Go to File > Open and find the psd you wish to open. Instead of hitting “open”, first hold down the “alt” and “control” keys and then click “open”. This will open a flattened version of your psd file. Thanks to DesignMusings.com for this tip and a couple others.

Oh, and if you are on a mac (osx), you can go to any image file on your computer and hit the spacebar to preview that image quickly. Works with psd’s too.

So, did you find any of these Photoshop tips useful? Please comment below.


Derek Kimball

Derek is the founder of DesignBuddy and a full time graphic designer. He specializes in logo creation and visual branding. Over the past 13 years Derek has helped hundreds of clients grow their business and establish a stronger brand identity. View his portfolio, or get in touch. If you'd like to receive an occasional free newsletter with useful design related content, please subscribe here.

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