Top 10 Photoshop time savings tips

19 August 2016

Photoshop is the go to tool for the majority of designers around the world

Whether you’re a complete beginner wanting to create social media posts and require a little bit more flexibility and customisation than platforms such as Canva, or an expert wanting to do some complex image manipulation and composition, Photoshop is the go to tool for the majority of designers around the world.

After 15 years of daily use I still discover new shortcuts and techniques and yet know I’ve still only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of.

With all that is available and on hand, I still rely on a core set of shortcuts and techniques that dramatically improves my workflow. So here are my top 10 Photoshop time saving tips to get you using keyboard shortcuts like Mozart. (Substitute COMMAND for CONTROL on a PC)

1. Open a document quickly

Rather than navigate to File>Open to open a document, double-click on the pasteboard inside Photoshop (the bit outside the main canvas) to automatically bring up the Open dialog box.

2. Full Screen Mode (Keyboard shortcut F)

I use this keyboard shortcut probably more than any other. This is the shortcut for different screen modes that allow me to review what I am working on without the clutter of tools and other windows. Photoshop has four different screen modes that all have their own function.

Standard Screen Mode
The first time you open a file in Photoshop it will show on your monitor in this mode.The image will have scroll bars, information about the document, a title bar and the window can be scaled by dragging the bottom right corner.

This mode is super handy if you want to use several images to make composites.

Maximized Screen Mode (1 x F)
This is the same as clicking on the maximize button in Windows.

Full Screen Mode with Menubar (2xF)
This gives you a Full Screen view including the menu bar. This is by far the most practical mode. You can use the Hand Tool (key-H or temporary Spacebar) to move the image on your screen.This creates enough room for dialogue boxes which now don't cover your image.

Full Screen Mode (3xF)
I call this the Presentation Mode. The area around your image is now black.

Tip: Press the tab key and all your palettes disappear. Press again to retrieve them. This also works in InDesign and Illustrator.[divider line_type="No Line" custom_height="40"]

3. Zoom in and out (Command +, Command -) (Control for PC)

Want to see zoom in to see more detail on your design or out to get the full picture. Command + will zoom in and command – will zoom out. command 1 will show at 100% and command 0 will zoom to fit your window size.[divider line_type="No Line" custom_height="40"]

4. Lorem Ipsum

A small new feature that will help save time when you're producing mockups inside Photoshop is the handy new Lorem Ipsum function. Select the type tool and draw an area type box by clicking and dragging out a selection. Now choose Type > Paste Lorem Ipsum to automatically fill your type area with faux Latin text.

5. History Snapshots

If you're accustomed to using the history feature in Photoshop when you've made a mistake or want to back-track a few steps, this tip will allow you to take complete control of your artwork. Open the history panel, and click on the camera icon each time you reach a milestone in your artwork. This will create a history snapshot that you can return to at any point.

6. Crop (without throwing away)

Crop without throwing away the bits of image outside your crop area. Choose the crop tool and uncheck the new Delete cropped pixels checkbox. Now when you apply your crop, the areas of image outside the crop will simply be hidden for later retrieval. To get access to the area outside your crop, simply choose the crop tool again and change your crop accordingly.

7. Transparency

Want to make an object transparent or semi transparent? Sliding the transparency slider in the layer window is one way. But by pressing the number keys for example 7 whilst a layer is selected will change the opacity to 70. If you type two numbers, you will get that exact opacity value. For example, type an 8 and a 9 in quick succession and you will get opacity value of 89%.

8. Fill

Just like most things in photoshop there are multiple ways to perform this task. By far the quickest I find is by simply pressing command delete. This will fill the active layer with the background colour. If you want to cycle between the foreground and background colours simply press X. If you want to change the colours just click into the swatch and select your colour. If you want to reset the background and foreground swatches to default. Press D. Note: If you have a layer selected and it fills the entire layer. Press the / key. This will maintain the layers transparency and only fill the selected shape.

9. Duplicate Layer

Want to duplicate an element from one document into another? Simple. Right click on the layer and select duplicate layer. From there select the destination document and you are done!

10. Clipping Mask

There are lots of different ways to create masks in photoshop. A clipping mask is a masking technique that gives you a lot of flexibility and nifty little effect that has come in handy thousands of times since learning it in my first ever photoshop lesson. Check out this video here that quickly shows how it works.

Hopefully you can take something from those quick 10 tips that helps speed up your workflow.

Hooked on shortcuts?  All you can eat here.

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