How to Straighten a Crooked image in Photoshop

How to Straighten a Crooked Image in Photoshop

Straighten an image in Photoshop

Straighten an image in Photoshop

While most photo editing programs have a dedicated and easily discoverable Straighten tool, Photoshop does not and never has had. Instead, prior to Photoshop version CS6, it was notoriously difficult to straighten a photo.

This all changed with the new Crop tool in Photoshop CS6 and CC, and it is now much easier to straighten an image – even if it isn’t easy to determine that the Crop tool is how you do it.

I’ll show you how to straighten a crooked image in Photoshop, but before we look at Photoshop CS6 & CC let’s take a trip back in time to see how to straighten an image in Photoshop CS5 and earlier. Of course this process still works in later versions of Photoshop as well.

Straighten an image prior to Photoshop CS6 & CC

With an image open in Photoshop locate the Ruler tool which shares a toolbar position with the Eyedropper tool.

The Ruler tool shares a toolbar position with the Eyedropper tool.

The Ruler tool shares a toolbar position with the Eyedropper tool.

Click and drag along some element in the photo that should be either truly horizontal or vertical. The longer the line you make, the more accurate the adjustment will be.

Drag along an element in the image which should be horizontal or vertical using the Ruler tool.

Drag along an element in the image which should be horizontal or vertical using the Ruler tool

Once you have the ruler line positioned along the line you wish to straighten, choose Image > Image Rotation > Arbitrary and the dialog will show the angle of that ruler line – in other words the angle to rotate the image to straighten it. Press Ok to rotate the photo and straighten it.

Choose Rotate Canvas to rotate the canvas to the selected angle.

Choose Rotate Canvas to rotate the canvas to the selected angle.

In Photoshop CS5, the process was streamlined slightly by the addition of a Straighten Layer option which appears when you select the Ruler tool. Once you mark out the line to straighten to you can then click this icon to straighten the image (see image below).

Click Straighten Layer in Photoshop CS5 and later to straighten using the Ruler tool.

Click Straighten Layer in Photoshop CS5 and later to straighten using the Ruler tool.

Straighten using the Crop tool

In Photoshop CS6 and CC the Crop tool now has a Straighten tool built into it. So, to straighten a photo, click the Crop Tool (or press C) and click the Straighten icon on the toolbar.

Click Crop and then click the Straighten icon on the Tool Options bar

Click Crop and then click the Straighten icon on the Tool Options bar

Now drag a line across the photo, along an element which should be horizontal or vertical.

Drag along an element which should be horizontal or vertical

Drag along an element which should be horizontal or vertical

When you let go the mouse the image will be rotated automatically using the line as a guide and the resulting uneven edges of the image will be cropped away.

Press Enter to confirm the crop

Press Enter to confirm the crop

Press Enter to confirm the crop. If you have the Delete Cropped Pixels checkbox enabled then the excess image will be permanently removed.

The Delete Cropped Pixels setting lets you choose whether cropped pixels are deleted or not

The Delete Cropped Pixels setting lets you choose whether cropped pixels are deleted or not

If the Delete Cropped Pixels option is unchecked, the canvas will be reduced in size to match the crop rectangle and the extra image pixels will disappear from sight but will still be accessible.

At any time you can reinstate these hidden areas of the image which lie outside the canvas by choosing Image > Reveal All.

Use Reveal All to display contend hidden when  you crop

Use Reveal All to display contend hidden when you crop

For more Photoshop tips try these:

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Read more from our Post Production category.

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.

  • Virtualvisa

    Why go through all that work? Drag down a blue line and rotate the entire photo layer until it lines up with the horizon.

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    Id say this way is more accurate and takes care of the cropping issue also, plus you can undo it easily.

  • Michael Owens

    I would agree with Darlene here. This is my method.

  • http://keasigmadelta.co.nz/ Kea Sigma Delta

    Nice tutorial, although the process seems rather involved. I thought it worth mentioning that we have a simple (and free) photo editor that makes straightening crooked edges much easier. Have a look at the video tutorial here:
    http://keasigmadelta.co.nz/products/SCRAP/rotation-scrap-photo-editor/

  • Lisa D

    Or you can put the grid on in your view finder!

  • MarcelR

    But what if you don’t have Photoshop CC?

  • Helen Bradley

    @MarceIR, if you check out the post, the first part of it addresses how to straighten an image in previous versions of Photoshop. If you use Photoshop Elements then it is easy – it has a straighten tool in the tools palette.

  • ChevyAnswerMan

    You can straighten it in Lightroom very easily as well…

  • Stephen Hoppe

    Use Aperture or Lightroom and the built in “Straighten” tool for a one-step solution. Seems like way too much work and overkill in Photoshop, this is like a solution in search of a problem.

  • roots

    backlinkers gonna backling

Some older comments

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
Today’s Deal: 70% off Photoshop Artistry: Fine Art Grunge Composition courseVIEW DEAL
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed