I’ve been using Photoshop now for 20 years, version one on a Mac while I was studying at college back in 92-93, and a lot has changed since those early days. But one thing that I quickly learnt, especially when I started working in a commercial setting was that using keyboard shortcuts were essential.


Once you begin employing keyboard shortcuts rather than hunting for tools and features in the myriad of menus your productivity skyrockets. I would guess that using the keyboard will allow me to complete a task in anything from a half to a third of the time that it would if I just used the mouse.

Now there are loads of shortcuts some granted quite convoluted and at first you will be slower while those key combinations become second nature but it is worth it in the end, believe me. the best way to go about this is to identify your most commonly used shortcuts, jot them down on a post-it note and attach this to your monitor where it is easily visible. As you gain proficiency with one set jot down another set and stick them to your monitor and so on. By the time you run out of space for the post-it notes (4-5) you can probably replace the first one as they’ll ow be programed in and second nature.


My Top Shortcuts


[Ctrl + S] – Save

[Shift + Ctrl + S] – Save As

[Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S] – Save for Web

Save..! Save..! Save..! You can never save to often, this is why this is my number one shortcut.


Hand/Move Tool


A quick way to navigate round your image. Hold down the spacebar (the cursor will change to a hand icon), click and hold and drag around your image.


New Image

[Ctrl + N] – Opens up a ‘New Image’ dialogue window.



[Ctrl + Shift + N] – New layer with dialog

[Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N] – New layer without dialog

Layers are probably one of the single most important features in Photoshop… in fact in any graphics application Vector of Bitmap, 2D or 3D. Learn their secrets my young Padawan!

[Ctrl + J] – Duplicate Layer without dialog

[Ctrl + Alt + J] – Duplicate Layer with dialog

You can duplicate an entire layer, or, if you have a selection, the selection will be duplicated to it’s own layer.

[Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E] – Stamp Visible

This is probably one of my most used shortcuts, it creates a new layer which is a combination of all the other visible layers together.


Zoom In/ Zoom Out / Fit to Window

[Ctrl + =] – zoom in

[Ctrl + –] – zoom out

[Ctrl + 0] – fit to window

Great for that fine detail, quick and easy.


Re-run Filter/ Fade Filter

[Ctrl + F] – run filter again

[Ctrl + Alt + F] – run filter again, with dialog

[Ctrl + Shift + F] – fade filter

Very useful when you are performing repetitive processes on multiple images, though if this is the case recording the process as an ‘Action’ which can be repeated with a single click is very useful and for the serious PS Ninja an action can be run on the entire contents of a folder as a ‘Batch’ process… But I digress.



[M Key] – Marquee

[V Key]- Move Tool

[E Key] – Eraser

[B Key] — Brush

[ – Decrease Brush Size

] – Increase Brush Size

Shift + [ – Decrease Brush Softness

Shift + ] Increase Brush Softness


Your Selection

[Ctrl + D] – Deselect

[Ctrl + I] – Invert Selection

Very useful in conjunction with the Marquee tool.


Undo, Multiple Times

[Ctrl + Alt + Z]

Whereas most programs allow you to undo an action [Ctrl + Z] Photoshop allows you to perform multiple undoes, basically moving back through the ‘History’, otherwise you’re just cycling round undo/re-do.


Image by Grapgic Junkies

Here are some great online resources for Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.

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