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30 Keyboard Shortcuts for Speed and Creativity in Adobe Photoshop

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Becoming comfortable with digital post-production is all about having good flow. A good workflow lets you be fast and creative: committing keyboard shortcuts to memory is an important step in building up your personal Photoshop flow.

Keyboard shortcuts help save seconds for each task in Adobe Photoshop. They also make you more creative! The less you have to fight with the software the more brain power you have to think about your image. Or, put another way: the more connected your hands are to the image the easier it is for your brain to make your vision a reality. In short, you want Photoshop to work for you, not you work Photoshop.

These are the shortcuts I use on a daily basis. Frankly, you might not want spend all your time memorizing every Photoshop shortcut in existence. Like me, you probably use only a fraction of what Photoshop can do. Knowing these shortcuts, however, will serve most of your needs most of the time and they will help you get better at post-production. Depending on your workflow you might need peruse all of the short cuts that come preset with Photoshop and add a couple to your personal list.

So, with the goal of getting fast and smooth with Adobe Photoshop, let's set to letting your fingers do the work. 

Brush Control

Whether I'm adjusting a mask, making a selection, or fixing color tones, the Brush Tool is my number one tool. Comfort with the brush is one of the best ways to get fast and accurate at Photoshop work. These shortcuts also work on other brush like tools, like the Eraser, Healing Brush, and Clone Stamp tools.

Active Brush Tool
Reset to the default foreground color and background color (black and white)
Switch foreground color and background color
Reduce Brush size 
Increase Brush size
Toggle Quick Mask mode

Here's one more quick tip for brush resizing. Hold down Alt (Option), and right-click your mouse. With the mouse clicked down, moving your mouse up and down makes the brush softer and harder, and moving your mouse left and right makes the brush smaller and bigger.

Layer and Selection Controls

While I'm actually working on a project, here are the shortcuts I use to get my selections done quickly and manipulate layers.

Combination Shortcut
Free Transform current layer
Control-A Select All (applies to current layer only)
Control-D Deselect current selection
Control-H Hide Extras (hides the marching ants while maintaining selection)
Control-F Redo Last Filter (useful for building effects in increments)
Control-Shift-U Desaturate current layer
Fill (a quick way to apply content aware fill)

State Controls

It's very important to stay organized on larger projects. Here are the workflow-management shortcuts to use to keep life simple.

Undo (this will toggle back to the current state in the history)
Alt-Control-Z Step Backwards (unlike undo, this will keep going back through states in the history)
Merge all layers into flattened layer
Merge all new layer via copy
Create new layer group with currently selected layers
Control-J Duplicate layer or group
Control-S Save
Control-Shift-S Save As
Control-Shift-Alt-S Save For Web


Having a hard time moving around a large photo or document? Here are a few shortcuts to make navigation and display a little easier.

Combination Shortcut
F Toggle Fullscreen mode options
Control-Plus (+)
Zoom In
Control-Minus (-)
Zoom Out
Control-1 Zoom to 100% view
Fit the document to the current window size
Spacebar Hold to temporarily activate the Hand Tool (H)
Control-R Turn Rulers on and off

Customize Your Shortcuts

If you actions that you use frequently you can set your actions to one of the function keys from the fly-out menu on the Actions Palette by choosing Action Options.

Customize the Actions Palete with Action OptionsCustomize the Actions Palete with Action OptionsCustomize the Actions Palete with Action Options

Lastly, do you wish your shortcuts worked a little differently? You can create custom keyboard shortcuts for anything and everything under Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.

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