Sometimes photography is as much about camera skills as it is about tweaking the pictures you’ve taken in Photoshop. However, the long drawn out ways of doing a simple task in Photoshop can be quite tiring. Luckily, there’s a way out! All you need to do is follow the relatively simple tips found below to master Photoshop by keeping both your hands busy and minimizing the time spent on your computer. These tips are for Photoshop CS2 and CS3 users with a PC. So, without further ado, here are a few shortcuts that can make your life a lot easier!

As Simple As Can Be

  • H (Hand Tool) – This command brings up the Hand Tool, which allows for quick panning when you zoom in to a portion of your photo.

  • Z (Zoom Tool) – This command allows you to zoom in just by bringing up the Zoom Tool. If you want to temporarily switch to the Zoom Out mode, just hold down the Alt key.

  • Ctrl + 0 (Fit on Screen) – If you want to get your entire photo in front of your eyes in mere seconds, this tool is the one you’re looking for. Note: This command is Ctrl + zero, not the letter O.

  • B (Brush Tool) – If you’re into brushing up your images, this tool is the one you need. It’s particularly useful if you’re working with masks as well.

  • Ctrl + Z (Undo) – This one is extremely handy and is used quite often. Why, you ask? Well, it can undo any mistake you may make to your images during the editing process.

  • Tab (Hide/Show Palettes) – If you want to minimize your need to pan and zoom while editing, this tool comes in rather handy. It hides the palettes and offers you a more unhindered view of the image you’re working on.

  • [ (Decrease Brush Size) – The title of this one says it all. It’s extensively used to quickly decrease the brush size so that you can get into the tighter spots of your image.

  • ] (Increase Brush Size) – This one is a follow up to the previous command tool. It quickly increases the brush size for the larger areas of your picture.

  • Shift + [ (Decrease Brush Softness) – This one decreases the softness of the brush by about 25 percent and it works beautifully with this shortcut.

  • Shift + ] (Increase Brush Softness) – This one does exactly the opposite of the one above. It increases the brush softness by 25 percent.

  • 1->0 (Tool Opacity) – Most times, photographers are happy with a brush opacity of five to 10 percent. However, you sometimes need to customize in order to suit the image. And that’s where this tool command comes in handy. Simply press one of the numbers from one to 10 and your Tool Opacity can go up from 10 to 100 percent. For even finer control, press a second number quickly after the first. Doing that will get you any percentage you want. For example, pressing the number four will get you 40 percent opacity, while pressing six and then three will give you 63 percent opacity.

  • Shift + 1->0 (Tool Flow) – This one works exactly like the opacity tool, but you have to hold down the Shift key while you hit the numbers.

  • Ctrl + Tab (Next Point on Curves Adjustment) – When using the Curves Adjustment dialogue, you can place multiple points on the curve and adjust them accordingly. Sometimes you need to make very minor shifts in the points by nudging them with the keyboard, but clicking on the point to activate it usually moves it to an undesired location. Therefore, you can use this command to switch focus from point to point without moving them around.

And Finally…

Use the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K (Show Keyboard Command) if you happen to forget any of the above mentioned commands. With it, you can bring up the Help dialogue window for keyboard shortcuts. There are a lot more shortcuts than what I went over today and you can use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K for even more information about them.

Happy Photoshopping!

~ Zahid H. Javali