10 Photoshop Interface Features you Didn’t Know Existed

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Here it is, short and sweet. 10 techniques for working in Photoshop that you may not know existed:

1. Open a File without using the Menus

Simple. Double click the grey background area of the Photoshop window and the File Open dialog appears – magic!?

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2. If grey is Dull, Black is Wonderful and any Color is Better!

To change the grey inside an image window from grey to black (or a color of your choice), Control + Right Click (Command + Right Click on the Mac) on the area surrounding the image and select a color.

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3. Sample Foreground and Background Colors

Instead of clicking on the foreground or background swatch to change the color to one sampled from the image, click the Eyedropper tool and click to sample a foreground color – hold Alt (Option on the Mac) to sample a new background color.

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4. Position a Shape or Selection

When you’re drawing a shape or selection and the shape is fine but the position is wrong, keep hold of the mouse button and hold the spacebar as you move the shape or selection into the desired position. Let go the spacebar and continue to make your shape.

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5. Get a Selection Back

If you’ve lost your selection, press Ctrl + Shift + D (Command + Shift + D on the Mac) to get it back. Ctrl + D (Command + D on the Mac) deselects the selection.

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6. Hide and Keep

If the selection marquee is getting in your way, Ctrl + H (Command + H on the Mac) will hide the selection but still leave it in place. Don’t forget to turn it back on or you might wonder why things aren’t working the way you expect them to work.

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7. See what you’re Working On

This is my all time biggest time saver! When you drag a large layer from one document to another you can view the entire layer and its sizing handles by Ctrl + Click (Command + Click on the Mac) on the layer thumbnail to select it. Then press Ctrl + T (Command + T on the Mac) to view the transform handles and Ctrl + 0 (zero) (or Command + 0 on the Mac) to shrink the image so the sizing handles are all visible.

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8. Stack or line up Palettes

To stack palettes side by side in the same dialog, drag one palette over the others until a blue line appears around it and let go. To stack palettes one on top of the other down the screen, drag and drop one palette onto the bar just above another palette’s name.

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9. No dialog Reset button? Yes there is!

You can reset most Photoshop dialogs to their original settings or at least some version of the original settings by holding the Alt key (Option on the Mac) when inside the dialog – when you do this, the Cancel button turns into a Reset button.

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10. May all your Ellipses turn into Circles

To draw a circle using the Elliptical marquee or a circle shape, hold the Shift key once you’ve started drawing and the ellipse will become a circle. To draw from the center out, hold the Alt key (Option on the Mac) as you start drawing an ellipse, then add the Shift key to make it a circle – keep holding both keys until you let go the right mouse button.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Wow. These are great! I did actually know number 5, but the rest are new to me. 1,4 and 10 will become regulars in my arsenal, that’s for sure!

  • Great tips, Helen! I knew some of them, but number 5 and 6 are completely new to me and I have been using Photoshop for years! What an amazing program in that a Photoshop rookie or veteran can discover new things about it every day.

  • Peter

    Everytime we have these tutorials on Photoshop I learn something new. The reason is because the lessons teach or explain a particular process, and I end up trying other features with the same principles. What a good way to learn.

    thank you DPS…

  • Pappy

    Some of these tips didn’t work when I tried them. For example, when I tried tip #2, nothing happened when I used Ctrl + right click on my PC. I’m using CS2. What version of Photoshop are you using?

  • Pappy, I’m using CS4 and #2 works with CS3 and CS4 but not, as you say, in CS2.

    cheers

    Helen

  • Very useful and time saving tips, thanks Helen! 🙂

  • What If I knew them all? 🙂 I actually forgot a couple but realized they were there. You can also shift+click I believe with the paint bucket to change the background color like tip #1. Great tips and a nice post thank you for the information!

  • dlv

    really really interesting article !
    i love #4, i get surprised to know about that !!

    thanks for share!

  • Miekkuli

    This is the BEST thing EVER! I knew half of these but many of the other half were super usefull! That spacebat with selection thing was something I have wanted for a long time!

  • I have been using PS for many years now and love it when someone shares thier tips and tricks, I know a couple of these ones but the others were new to me, I will be adding those to my arsenal, Thanks for that Helen.

  • Good stuff, but some have been around since Photoshop 3.

  • bee

    Wow, these tipps just are great! Didn’t know half of them. Thanks a lot!

  • In reference to #2, the reason why the default background is gray is because it’s a neutral color that doesn’t influence the image that is being edited. When you change the color from gray to black or white (or any other color), you’re affecting color and contrast characteristics of your image / illustration. Although it might be nice to change the color to see if you’d like to mat an image in white or black (or other color), the feature in #2 should probably be used sparingly.

  • Excellent time savers! Thanks as usual.

  • Number 7 and 10 were a big help! I will use ctrl 0 now and the alt key to draw a circle from the center out. Thanks!

  • Barbara

    VERY helpful. Thank you!

  • Lu

    I have to agree with Rob Greer’s comment above. Changing the default background does influence the picture.

    I just tried #2…changing the background to black. I had a picture of a little girl standing on a blue spot light, looking up at bubbles, with a totally black background. The picture was cropped so the frame was mostly filled mostly with the girl and bubbles. When I changed the default background to black, the girl was small in a sea of blackness with the bubbles glowing in the darkness….and very dramatic compared to what I had. I ended up changing the picture so it actually looked that way.

  • I love this kind of post – please can we have some more?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Tony Bryan

    Tony

    Very descriptive and helpful to a Photoshop beginner like myself

    Many thanks

  • Inayat Hanoum

    Know I must learn more about photoshop.
    Thanks.

  • Joan

    Good stuff!
    More…please.

  • Polly

    Wow, never knew number 10 and that seems like a VERY useful one, thanks!

  • EXCELLENT tips really, didn’t know about them 🙂

    Thanks in Advance..

  • Paul

    i only didn’t knew 1 from these 10 features, but nevertheless great hints for a lot of people, i think

  • There’s some fantastic tips in here, thank you so much!

    I’m just getting into photography, but have been using Photoshop for years for web & graphic design. These tips will come in real handy!

  • Wow Awesome Article..
    Knew few of them, learned many.
    Many many thanks ! 🙂

  • Very helpful tip, thanks a bunch for sharing!

  • aa

    For multiple same images/segments/elements

    CTRL+T
    CTRL+SHIFT (in layer panel selecting)
    CTRL+SHIT+T (apply last transformation)

  • This is something that I wanted to learn in photography school but I would have had to take 2 years of photography classes before I could learn this. Thanks for helping!

Some Older Comments

  • fashion photography October 5, 2011 01:56 pm

    This is something that I wanted to learn in photography school but I would have had to take 2 years of photography classes before I could learn this. Thanks for helping!

  • aa June 4, 2011 01:24 am

    For multiple same images/segments/elements

    CTRL+T
    CTRL+SHIFT (in layer panel selecting)
    CTRL+SHIT+T (apply last transformation)

  • Aaron April 22, 2010 02:28 pm

    Very helpful tip, thanks a bunch for sharing!

  • Enk. August 23, 2009 05:56 am

    Wow Awesome Article..
    Knew few of them, learned many.
    Many many thanks ! :)

  • MrQwest August 12, 2009 04:35 am

    There's some fantastic tips in here, thank you so much!

    I'm just getting into photography, but have been using Photoshop for years for web & graphic design. These tips will come in real handy!

  • Paul August 11, 2009 12:18 am

    i only didn't knew 1 from these 10 features, but nevertheless great hints for a lot of people, i think

  • bingorabbit August 8, 2009 04:22 pm

    EXCELLENT tips really, didn't know about them :)

    Thanks in Advance..

  • Polly July 22, 2009 05:13 am

    Wow, never knew number 10 and that seems like a VERY useful one, thanks!

  • Joan July 22, 2009 03:11 am

    Good stuff!
    More...please.

  • Inayat Hanoum July 11, 2009 09:03 am

    Know I must learn more about photoshop.
    Thanks.

  • Tony Bryan July 11, 2009 12:43 am

    Tony

    Very descriptive and helpful to a Photoshop beginner like myself

    Many thanks

  • Christine July 10, 2009 11:42 pm

    I love this kind of post - please can we have some more?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Lu July 10, 2009 01:52 pm

    I have to agree with Rob Greer's comment above. Changing the default background does influence the picture.

    I just tried #2...changing the background to black. I had a picture of a little girl standing on a blue spot light, looking up at bubbles, with a totally black background. The picture was cropped so the frame was mostly filled mostly with the girl and bubbles. When I changed the default background to black, the girl was small in a sea of blackness with the bubbles glowing in the darkness....and very dramatic compared to what I had. I ended up changing the picture so it actually looked that way.

  • Barbara July 10, 2009 09:32 am

    VERY helpful. Thank you!

  • Katie July 10, 2009 08:06 am

    Number 7 and 10 were a big help! I will use ctrl 0 now and the alt key to draw a circle from the center out. Thanks!

  • Tom Gill July 10, 2009 02:43 am

    Excellent time savers! Thanks as usual.

  • Rob Greer July 10, 2009 01:31 am

    In reference to #2, the reason why the default background is gray is because it's a neutral color that doesn't influence the image that is being edited. When you change the color from gray to black or white (or any other color), you're affecting color and contrast characteristics of your image / illustration. Although it might be nice to change the color to see if you'd like to mat an image in white or black (or other color), the feature in #2 should probably be used sparingly.

  • bee July 9, 2009 11:39 pm

    Wow, these tipps just are great! Didn't know half of them. Thanks a lot!

  • Dave Wilson July 9, 2009 04:34 pm

    Good stuff, but some have been around since Photoshop 3.

  • Barry July 9, 2009 03:31 pm

    I have been using PS for many years now and love it when someone shares thier tips and tricks, I know a couple of these ones but the others were new to me, I will be adding those to my arsenal, Thanks for that Helen.

  • Miekkuli July 9, 2009 03:15 pm

    This is the BEST thing EVER! I knew half of these but many of the other half were super usefull! That spacebat with selection thing was something I have wanted for a long time!

  • dlv July 9, 2009 01:53 pm

    really really interesting article !
    i love #4, i get surprised to know about that !!

    thanks for share!

  • Chad Engle July 9, 2009 01:51 pm

    What If I knew them all? :) I actually forgot a couple but realized they were there. You can also shift+click I believe with the paint bucket to change the background color like tip #1. Great tips and a nice post thank you for the information!

  • Mjuboy July 9, 2009 12:03 pm

    Very useful and time saving tips, thanks Helen! :)

  • Helen Bradley July 9, 2009 04:01 am

    Pappy, I'm using CS4 and #2 works with CS3 and CS4 but not, as you say, in CS2.

    cheers

    Helen

  • Pappy July 9, 2009 03:40 am

    Some of these tips didn't work when I tried them. For example, when I tried tip #2, nothing happened when I used Ctrl + right click on my PC. I'm using CS2. What version of Photoshop are you using?

  • Peter July 9, 2009 02:02 am

    Everytime we have these tutorials on Photoshop I learn something new. The reason is because the lessons teach or explain a particular process, and I end up trying other features with the same principles. What a good way to learn.

    thank you DPS...

  • Aaron Riddle July 9, 2009 01:52 am

    Great tips, Helen! I knew some of them, but number 5 and 6 are completely new to me and I have been using Photoshop for years! What an amazing program in that a Photoshop rookie or veteran can discover new things about it every day.

  • Rowan July 9, 2009 01:42 am

    Wow. These are great! I did actually know number 5, but the rest are new to me. 1,4 and 10 will become regulars in my arsenal, that's for sure!

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