Tip of the Week: 20 Must-Know Keyboard Shortcuts for Photoshop

If there’s one thing that separates beginners from experienced computer users, it’s their knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. If you’ve used any modern operating system and any productivity applications for a while, you’ve probably picked up some common ones like Control-C and Control-V already, but there’s a lot more.

Copy paste keyboard

On this blog we'll take a look at some of the common shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop. It is a powerful piece of software, and while it’s technically possible to just use a mouse or other pointing device, keyboard shortcuts let you do things more effectively. Keep using them and eventually the shortcuts will go into your muscle memory and you won't even have to think about them while doing them.

Some shortcuts take a single keypress, others are done together with other keys like Control (Ctrl). For example, if the shortcut is Ctrl-C, you must first press and hold the Ctrl key and press C, then release both. These shortcuts are for PC - for macOS the shortcuts are mostly the same but the Alt key is replaced by Option and Control with the Command key. Some shortcuts are different in earlier versions of Photoshop.

First shortcut to mention is Alt-Shift-Ctrl-K. This shortcut shows you all available keyboard shortcuts and lets you edit them if the default shortcut doesn’t do it for you. For macOS users the shortcut is Alt-Shift-Command-K.

Now let's go over some basics. A lot of these are universal across various programs besides Photoshop, so you probably already know a few of them.

Ctrl-Z: Undo

First one everyone should know is the shortcut for undo. Undo will reverse the last action you did. If you want to redo something or undo your “undo”, just press Ctrl-Shift-Z. Repeated presses will undo or redo more actions based on your command history.

Ctrl-S: Save

This shortcut saves your project and overwrites your previous save file. If you wish to make a new save file and preserve your old file, use Ctrl-Shift-S for “save as”.

Ctrl-N: New

New project file. You can quickly begin a new project with this shortcut.

Ctrl-O: Open

Open a saved file.

Ctrl-W: Close window

Closes current project, asks if you wish to save your project.

Alt-Shift-Ctrl-W: Export

Export current project, for example if you wish to make a JPEG from a layered image.

Ctrl-F: Search

Opens a search box for searching through the interface and Adobe help

Let’s take a look at some shortcuts for manipulating layers. Layers are an important feature and being able to work with them effectively is important.

Ctrl-Shift-N: New Layer

Adds a new layer, by default an empty transparent layer.

Ctrl-J: New layer via copy

Copies selection into a new layer or duplicates the whole layer into a new layer if nothing is selected.

D: Default foreground and background colors

Selects “default” background and foreground colors (black and white). Useful for example in masking.

X: Toggle foreground and background colors

Toggles between your selected background and foreground color.

Ctrl-Backspace and Alt-Backspace:

Fills your selected layer with background or foreground color, respectively. Hold Shift key to preserve transparency.

Tools and other related shortcuts: Pressing the tool keys once selects the tool. Holding the tool key down, completing an action with it and releasing the key returns you to the previous used tool. Useful when you need to move a layer between brush strokes for example.

V: Move tool

L: Lasso tool

B: Brush tool

[ and ]: Change brush size

With brush tools selected, these keys will change your brush size.

Finally, a few shortcuts for making quick image color, brightness and exposure adjustments.

Ctrl-M: Curves

Ctrl-L: Levels

Ctrl-U: Hue and Saturation

These shortcuts are just scratching the surface of what you can do with your keyboard in Photoshop. There’s a ton more, but just learning the most common ones will make skyrocket your productivity. You can find all the keyboard shortcuts on Adobe website.

Photo credits: Sielan.

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October 09, 2020


I use many programs, including Ps, Ai, Dn which at least are similar, but when I work with Blender, sometimes I get confused and I make a mess ^ _ ^

October 01, 2020


Nice Article, helpful. Thank you   

September 25, 2020


Nice blog--I love shortcuts!  Williamwise1, for Mac users "option g"  brings up the copyright symbol.

September 25, 2020


These are great! There is another I just learned recently and use constantly, create the copyright © symbol by holding ALT and typing 0169. I try to caption all my photos with that and with a link to Dreamstime. William 

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