These Photoshop beginner tips and shortcuts address some of the most common things you'll do in Photoshop, and learning them will save you lots of time down the road.
Create Project-Specific Custom Workspaces
Photoshop lets you create custom workspaces that display just the palettes you need for a specific project. For instance, if you're planning on working with text, you'll want to have the Paragraph and the Character palette open. But later you might be editing some Photos and want to close your text palettes to make room for photo editing palettes like color swatches and brushes. With custom workspaces you can switch quickly.
Once you've arranged the palettes just the way you want them, choose Window> Workspace> Save Workspace. Name your workspace and then click Save. Here's another tip - plan ahead so your custom workspace names make sense. This will be another time-saver later on when you need to locate one from the Workspace submenu.
Display The Same Image In Two Windows
When doing detail work on an image you may need to zoom in to take a closer look at the pixels. But to make sure that any changes you're making in this magnified state will look realistic at a normal view you'll have to zoom out for a quick look. Here's a great tip - instead of zooming in and out you can have the same image open in two windows at the same time.
Keep one window set at 100% to see your effects, and work in the second window - either zoomed in or zoomed out. Sweet.
Instant Grabber Hand
Ever been frustrated by having to switch tools to move your image around the canvas? Here's the solution — Press the Spacebar to temporarily activate the Hand Tool. Click to move an image freely inside a canvas area that is smaller than the image. Release the Spacebar and the hand tool will revert back to the current tool you have selected.
Getting Rid Of The Marching Ants
Quick Revert - The Undo Command
To undo your last image modification Press Control+Z (MAC: Command+Z), and repeat the shortcut to undo the undo. Toggling back and forth like this is a good technique to review the before and after effects of a one-step change to an image, like dodge or burn.
For situations where you need to perform a multiple undo, go Edit> Step Backward or use Control-Alt-Z (MAC: Command-Option-Z. To go the other way (multiple redo) go Edit> Step Forward or use Control-Shift-Z (MAC: Command-Shift-Z). The number of steps available is the same as the number of History States, which can be changed in General Preferences.
Control Your Color Squares
Press D to reset your color squares to their default of black as the foreground color and white as the background color.
Press X to switch your foreground color and your background color.
Selecting Colors From An Image Quickly
Press I to activate the Eyedropper Tool and then click on any color in your image to turn that color into the foreground color. Press the ALT Key and click on any color in your image to turn that color into the background color.
Change Brush Tip Sizes Quickly
With a brush selected, simply Press the Right Bracket Key "]" to increase the size of your brush tip, or Press the Left Bracket Key "[" to decrease the size of your brush tip.
The Move Tool & The Arrow Keys
Get in the habit of calling up the Move Tool with the keyboard shortcut, which is the letter V. Also, once the Move Tool is active you can use your Keyboard Arrow Keys to nudge a layer or selection in 1 pixel increments. To speed things up, Press Shift along with an arrow key to nudge in 10 pixel increments.
Hide Your Palettes
Press Tab once to hide all your palettes. Press Tab again to bring them back. Press Shift+Tab to hide all your palettes except the toolbar.
Zooming In & Zooming Out
Navigating In Magnified Images
If you've zoomed in on a large image and have lost your bearings you can jump quickly to specific views using these shortcuts:
Press the Home Key to set the view to the top left hand corner of your image.
Press the End Key to set the view to the bottom right hand corner of your image.
Press the Page Down Key to move the view one full screen down.
Press Command+Page Down (PC: Control+Page Down) to move the view one full screen to the right.
Press Command+Page Up (PC: Control+Page Up) to move the view one full screen to the left.
Selecting Just The Pixels On A Layer
An easy way to select an object that is on a transparent layer is to Press the Command Key (PC: Control key) and click on the layer with the object in the Layers Palette. This makes sure that only the opaque pixels (the pixels that are visible) will be selected with the marching ants, instead of the entire layer.
Tile Images For Better Visibility
When you open many files at once Photoshop has them cascade, and the overlapping files can make it difficult to select individual ones. To get around this choose Window> Arrange> Tile and all of your open files will rearrange themselves to be visible all at once. When you're ready to close them all don't spend time closing them individually, instead use the Close All shortcut Command+Alt+W (PC: Control+Option+W).
Getting Rid Of The Welcome Screen - And Bringing It Back
When first launching Photoshop CS you'll see a Welcome Screen that has links to some Tutorials, some Tips and Tricks, and a set of Color Management Help Files. After a while you might want to get rid of this screen. There's a check box at the bottom you can select to hide the screen at startup.
If you change your mind later and decide you'd like to investigate the tutorials and other goodies, you can temporarily bring the screen back by going under the Help menu and choosing Welcome Screen.
Cycle Through All Of Your Open Documents
Sometimes you'll want to find one of your open documents that is hidden, but navigating using the Window menu won't help because you can't recall the name of the file. Instead press Control-Tab repeatedly (MAC and PC) to cycle through all of your open documents.