15 Photoshop Tips (I Bet) You Don't Know

16 February 2009

Photoshop is one of the most preferred and most favorite image editing software for graphic designers, digital painters and photographers alike. Over the period of time we get accustomed to using it and develop our own ways of doing stuffs, also in our attempts to use it most optimally we learn and discover many tips and tricks to make our creative life easier. Some of the tricks are most commonly used, but some of them  even though are most powerful goes unnoticed mainly because Photoshop has so many features.

Here I will share some of the tips and techniques which I have learned over the period of time and most of them are something that I stumbled across just by chance while playing around in Photoshop. I am sure some of them might be something you already know, but I bet you didn't know some of them. So keep reading and you will find at least one new trick.

Note: If you are using Mac,Ctrl key = Cmd key and Alt = Opt.
Also, please excuse me for the crappy screenshots have taken them during different times, but the important thing is the message and I am sure it is clear enough.

1. Increase the Canvas Size with Crop Tool:
We usually use Crop Tool (C) the images, but holding down Ctrl + Alt whilst dragging the Crop Tool to quickly increase the canvas size of a image from all the 4 sides.


2. Duplicate a Layer Style:
To quickly duplicate or to copy and paste a layer style to a object on another layer,just hold down Alt key and drag on the "fx" which indicates layer styles. Alternatively if you just want to move a layer style just drag the "fx" and drop the layer where you want it to move.

3. Toggle between several open documents:
If you have more than one documents open at same time, you can quickly toggle through them pressing Ctrl + Tab keys.

4. Layer Visibility:
To hide all the layers except just one, hold down Alt key and click on the Eye Icon on the Layer Palette, this will hide all the other layer. To again make all the layers visible just do the same.

5. Select Alternative Layers:
Now, I am sure you might know that selecting a layer and then clicking on some other layer whilst holding down Shift Key selects all the consecutive layers between them, BUT if you just want to select say Layer 1 and Layer 3 and maybe just Layer 6, then just hold down Ctrl key and click on the layer which you want to select in the Layer Palette, this way only the alternative layers (i.e only the layers that you want)  will be selected.

6. See The Text Color:
When you’re working with type, the obvious way to change color is to highlight the text and then pick a new hue by double-clicking the Foreground Color and choosing from the Color Picker. But the problem with this method is, because the text is highlighted, you can’t see the color change. To get around this, click the color square in the Options Bar. As you change the color, you’ll see the type alter accordingly.

7. Plotting Points on Curves:
Curves can play a great role on perfecting the tones in a image, and you can end up with a lot of different effects simply by playing about with the Curves dialog. You can plot the specific color(s), just open up dialog box and hold down Ctrl key and click on any color in your image, a point will appear on the curve that represents the color, ready for you to edit.

8. Reset Any Dialogue Box:
You can easily Reset any open dialogue box, press Alt key and click on Cancel button which has automatically become a Reset button when you pressed the Alt key.

9. Centre Point of a Document:
A quick trick for finding the centre of an object is to Go to Edit>Free Transform and you’ll see a bounding box appear. There’s a useful handle in the centre of the top, bottom and side lines, so go to View>Rulers and then pull out to those guides. Alternatively you can use the following Photoshop Action I have made especially to locate the guides to the centre point of the document.

10. Do away with Palettes, Toolbox and Option Bar:
Hit the Tab key and all the Palettes, Toolbox and Option Bar will disappear. This is particularly useful when you just want the image to be on the artboard, hit Tab again to get them all back. Alternatively, if you just want to do away with only Palettes hold down Shift key and hit Tab.

11. Image on a Specific Angle:
If you ever want to get an image to follow a specific angle, with your image open, go to the Measure Tool (I) and click and drag a line to the angle you want. Now go to the Edit menu select  Transform>Rotate. The layer will then snap to the line you drew.
Note:Remember that your layer should not be locked.

12. Add, Rename or Delete a Swatch:
Right click on a swatch in Swatch Palette to quickly create a new Swatch or rename it or delete it. Another tip to quickly delete a swatch.
Hold down Alt key and notice how the cursor changes into Scissor icon allowing you to delete a swatch.
Same is true for Brush, Style Palette etc.

13. Move and Transform Selection:
Drag on the document with the Marquee Tool (M) without releasing the mouse, hold down Spacebar, it will let you move the selection anywhere you like.

Also, you can transform a Selection by choosing Select>Transform Selection.

14. Scale Layer Style/Effects:
If you apply a layer style to a object and are picky like me to have it only this much or just that much, worry not, you can easily adjust how much of a layer style to be applied by Right clicking on Layer Style icons (fx) and choosing Scale Effect, in the corresponding dialogue box you can easily scale effects by moving the slider.

15. Open a Layered File as a Flattened Image:
If you want to just have a quick look at the file, it can be a time consuming task waiting for all the layers to load, if your file has lots of layers. But there is a nifty trick to turn it around, Go to File>Open and find the layered file you want. Before clicking Open, hold down Shift+Alt and Photoshop will open a flattened version of that file.

Feel free to share your tip, trick or technique in Photoshop.


kolja said...


siksee said...

the last tip is really an unknown one to me!~

JeremyOLED said...

No one ever tells you these things... well, except you, of course :P

dezignMusings said...

@kolja & silksee Glad. Pleasures! :)

@Jeremy I hope I get some brownie points then! ;P Thanks for dropping by! :D

Jason Rapert said...

i knew all but 5

Sarah said...

That last one is going to be a life saver at work -- all of my files are HUGE and take forever to load. Thanks!

dezignMusings said...

@ Jason & Sarah: Cheers! :)

Jeremy Herve said...

Great small tips, that's exactly what users need to get to know their software better!

I like your header drawing as well, it has a nice style. All done with Illustrator from a sketch of yours?

Sonali said...

Indeed and no matter how much we know, there is always something more to discover & that is the most thrilling part of it!

Thanks Jeremy. Well, yes all done in Illustrator but was a very quick job, so just like something we do most often in Photoshop,i.e mix & match & change it so much that it becomes a bit unique but with vectors of course!

Aravind Jose T. said...

7. Plotting Points on Curves:
14. Scale Layer Style/Effects:


8. Reset Any Dialogue Box:
15. Open a Layered File as a Flattened Image:

ARE LIFE-SAVERS Thanks a lot.

dezignMusings said...

Welcome Aravind!

kiraN said...

heyy.. I found a useful blog here..
thanks for all the tips..
15the tip is a life saver..
thank u very much..

- Kiran
ఐతే OK

dezignMusings said...

Pleasures Kiran! :)
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Anonymous said...

your PS tips were fabulous and I am going to be using them for my re-design a package project. thanks so much

website design said...

wow! i never knew you can do that with the crop tool! ey thanks for the tip!

Veerendra said...

nice tips .. i was aware of most but layer duplication and flattened version of file is cool


Nikhil said...

Really new tips.
I was knowing only no 5, 6, 8, 11.
All the others are new for me.
Thank you very much Sonali.

dezignMusings said...

My pleasure, folks! Glad it helped.

art said...

thx they are helpful

dezign Musings said...

Welcome art! :)

Mitra said...

Smashing Blog Sonali

dezign Musings said...

Thank You, Mitra! :)

Would have loved to see your blog, the link on your name doesn't work.

jorde said...

The only thing I didn't know were 7 and 15, nonetheless thanks for the tips ;)

Also you should consider gravatars on your website ;)

dezign Musings said...

Jorde, glad you found something!

Well, as for the gravatar, good suggestion, actually, it will need a major tweak but nonetheless I will think about it!

learn--photoshop said...

Thanks for these tips.

Even some tips i never knew about.

Alan Nowogrodski said...

You learn something new every day :D


D said...

Oh great tips .. the last tip was indeed an unknown... great stuff!

Márcio Augusto R. Guerra said...

Very nice tips, very nice indeed. Even already knowing almost all of them, I must admit that 1st, 6th more or less, 7th either, 9th, 12th also more or less and lastly the 15th, I must say that these are very nice tips.
Feel free to also come by my blog, a Type Blog, and write me a line. I must admit, I usually don't advertise my blog, so... I am starting now!

Cheers from Portugal

Márcio Guerra

P.s.- My blog is, of course, http://TypeZine.woordpress.com. Cya!

Ed Troxell said...

Thanks for this! Good tips~

What's your story? Mixitupmagazine.com

Check out MIX IT UP Magazine now.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Proud to say I knew them all!

Sathish said...

These are new things to me 1, 9, 14, 15. Photoshop is always full of surprises.

Thanks for the list, I'm a ninja now :D

Tammy Hart said...

Awesome tips! I don't know if it's been mentioned, but one thing i do alot os when i want to nudge a layer(s) or group(s) and long distance, I hold the shift key and use the arrows. This moves them 10 pixels at a time. Also, if you add alt to that, it will duplicate as normal, but the new duplicates will be 10 pixels away rather than just one pixel. Really helps if you work on a 10 pixel scale a lot like I do.

Alla said...

we were thought some of these in uni in photoshop workshops

Tricia08 said...

Really useful tips - 'specially the last one. Thanks! Haven't visited your site before - arrived via Tweet from smashingmag.

bono calacal said...

Nice post. Saves a lot of time.


vivek dani said...

Thanks a lot
I am using Photoshop for years but some of the tips I never knew before...
good stuff...

Deepu Balan said...

Thanks for the tips... 1 & 9 are really surprising n helpful...


Anonymous said...

New all but, the last one. It's a good 'un tho - thanks for that! :)

Neon said...

Transform and move, better to press M to get marquee, draw your selection and Ctrl+T to transform. Much quicker :)

memoryweaver said...

re point 6 - font highlighting - you can hide the font highlight completely by pressing CTRL-H then allowing you to properly see and make changes to the font selection.

missingdesign said...

I had seen some unimpressive posts like these before, but you really brought out some obscure handy shortcuts. Thanks!

Dwight said...

Great stuff, I like shortcuts. I have you bookmarked.



Anonymous said...

#15 is a very nice trick, the only one I don't know - but I don't need it because if I want to see only a preview I open the PSD with IrfanView :)

Gowebbaby said...

Hai i really dont know that. As a Wordpress Designer i will learn all that.

WebsiteSEO said...

Great PS tips and tricks...

Connect info Soft said...

This is a nice post, thanks for posting it. keep it on... php development

PSD To Wordpress said...

Wow this is really a great stuff inspiring one,Thanks for your great time to share these useful tips here with us......

mumtaz said...

Really nice Photoshop tips with nice collections looks great here.
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webdesign said...

Nice tips are shared..really helpful.
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Izrada sajtova said...

It is really a useful information,I learn many things from the post, so nice article,thank you for sharing it.

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