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Quick Tip: Speed Up Your Photoshop Workflow (Part 1)

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Read Time: 4 mins

If your New Year's resolution is to speed up your workflow in Photoshop, then today is your lucky day! Over the next few weeks, I am going to show you how you can save time post-processing in Photoshop by using features you may never have come across before.


Let's start with the simplest time saver; shortcuts. If you don't already use Photoshop shortcuts in your daily life, then I suggest you learn some. As well as the common shortcuts such as copy, paste, undo, and redo, there are many other Photoshop specific shortcuts.

Lets start with some of the most useful: (Windows users replace CMD with CTRL)

  • New Layer: CMD + SHIFT + N
  • Hue and Saturation: CMD + U
  • Fit on Screen: CMD + 0
  • Default Colours: D
  • Duplicate Layer: CMD + J
  • Free Transform: CMD + T

If your favorite tool doesn't have a shortcut then don't worry, simply make a shortcut. Select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. Most of the Photography related tools can be found underneath the "Layer" drop down menu.

Simply select the box next to Tool Name, and then type in your very own shortcut. Try and create a shortcut which is easy to use and not too difficult to select. The hardest part is finding a shortcut not already taken. For example, I would love my curves adjustment layer to be CMD + C, but this is already owned by copy, which I think is a lot more important!

You can download a PDF with all the shortcuts from Trevor Moore Photographics. Unfortunately it doesn't yet include Photoshop CS5, but apart from the 3D options most shortcuts will remain the same.

Image courtesy of Jason Micheal


Setting up actions to speed up tasks you do on a regular basis is extremely useful. They save quite a bit of time in post editing, and allow you to spend more time out with your camera.

Creating an action is extremely easy, you simply open up the actions task bar by selecting Window > Actions. You can then create a new action and then, from that point on, everything you do is recorded.

Once finished you can then "Play" this action and it will complete the steps you have recorded. If you often complete the same task on a great number of photos, then setting up an action might be the greatest time saver of them all.

For a more in-depth look into actions have look at our post entitled 100 Free Photoshop Actions (And How to Make Your Own)

Scanning in Multiple Images

If you scan in two or three images into your computer at the same time on the same page and need to separate them quickly, then why not use the crop and straighten tool?

Simply open up your file from your scanner, choose File > Automate > Crop and Straighten. This will then crop your scanned images, straighten them and open them in separate windows for you then to deal with.

It is much easier than doing it yourself, or scanning separate photos. If you have to scan in lots of photos then it will save you a huge amount of time in the future.

The crop and straighten tool will sort out your scanned in photos

Image Processor

If you want to resize a series of photos so they all match the same height and width then you could use an action with a batch process, or alternatively you could use the Image Processor.

The Image Processor is very similar to the Batch command but with more options already built in. To get started, go to File > Scripts > Image Processor.

You have the option to save the files out as JPEG, PSD or TIFF, or you can save as all three if you wish. You also have the ability to load in actions, much like in the batch processing panel.

Adjustment Layers

Using Photoshop adjustment layers is the best way to edit a photo without touching the original photo. It allows you to safely edit non-destructively and easily change any aspect of your final image.

Photoshop Adjustment layers can be found under Layer > New Adjustment layer. They are very quick and easy to use, but do require more hard drive space when you save your PSD.

If you require re-edits in the future they allow you to move a slider rather than having to start again from stratch. If you have read any of my previous tutorials, you will know that I always edit with adjustment layers.

Changing Your Interface and Settings

Changing the interface to fit your personal preference is an important thing to do. Setting up Photoshop correctly means that you will often be able to acess tools quicker, as well as being happy with how the program is styled.

To edit your settings in Adobe Photoshop for windows select Edit > Preferences > General. Mac users select Photoshop > Preferences > General.

Within the settings panel, you can change the interface display, history states, unit measure default, transparency, 3D options as well as guides and rulers.

Enjoy the Speed Boost!

Thanks for reading this Quick Tip, and look out for the next one which will share a handful of further tips on becoming a speedy Photoshop guru. Feel free to post your own tips here if you have any to share!

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