The Importance of quick-keys

To increase your overall efficiency in Adobe Photoshop, it is critical to apply some effort in learning ‘quick-keys’. A quick-key is a keyboard short-cut. When pressed, sometime in combination with another key, a quick key will send a command to perform an action or make active a tool from the tool palette.

Example: CTRL+N = Open (file) dialogue box.

There are 100’s of quick-keys. Most of them can be found adjacent to items within the menu system or beside tools in the tool palette. It would be an unrealistic objective to try and learn all quick-keys at this point. Indeed, you might not need to know all of them. I’d recommend you memorize the ones that prove to be most useful to you.

If you are applying a certain action or command on a regular basis, rather than depending upon the menu system, take time to learn its associated quick-key.

Do I really need to use quick-keys?

In my opinion, absolutely yes! If you were to measure the time it takes to do just about anything without quick-keys and then compare it to working with quick-keys, you would definitely opt for the later.


Try the following experiment for yourself to help demonstrate the importance of using quick-keys.

  1. Image size dialogue boxCreate a new canvas (CTRL+N) and set the size at 1000 by 1000 pixels (you may need to change the unit of measurement by clicking on the small drop-down boxes next to the Height and Width boxes).
  2. Zoom %1600 in to your canvas (use CTRL+).
  3. Create a brush strokeStarting from the far left hand-side, using the brush tool ‘B’ (with a small brush, i.e. size ‘1’) start to draw a line across your canvas.
  4. Now change tool. Use the hand tool ‘H’ to move your canvas along a little to the to reveal more canvas on the right. If you wish, you may want to repeat this experiment later and use the scroll-bars instead of the hand tool.
  5. Zoom out to see lineNow change tool again. Choose the brush tool and repeat step 3 onward until you reach the far right of your canvas. If you zoom out, you should now see a line stretching from left to right.

Now repeat the same experiment, this time using the SPACE-BAR  as an alternative to the hand tool. Hold down the SPACE-BAR and click and drag to move around your canvas.

Notice how you don’t even have to change tools. You can continuously use the brush tool without interruption.

If you were to time this experiment, this first method should take about 45 seconds to complete. The second method, about 5 seconds!

Using a well rehearsed quick-key may take a fraction of a second, saving you time and giving you more time to spend perfecting your artwork.

Quick Key Map

The Following table is a useful listing of commonly used quick-keys.
Note: You will need to hold the ‘Shift’ key to cycle though obscured tools with the tool palette.

Tool palette quick-keys

Photoshop quick keys

Viewing & Image Navigation

100% Magnify: Alt+CTRL+0 (zero)
Zoom in/out: CTRL + or CTRL
Fit image in window: CTRL+0 (zero)
Actual Pixels: CTRL+Alt+0 (zero)
Move around canvas: Space-bar
Scroll up/down: Page Up or Page Down
Go to top left hand corner: Home
Go to Bottom right hand corner: End

Painting Within Photoshop

Fill Dialogue box: Shft+Backspace
Fill layer or select with foreground colour: Alt+Backspace
Fill layer or select with background colour: CTRL+Backspace
Paint in straight lines: Shft+left click
Set flow: Shft+Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Set Opacity: Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Select colour from image: Alt+left click
Select Background colour from image: Shft+Alt+left click

Selecting & Moving

Move Layer: CTRL
Constrain Marquee Proportions: Shft
Draw new Marquee from Centre: Alt+left click and drag
Moves selection 1 pixel: Arrow keys
Moves selection 10 pixels: Shft+Arrow keys
Move non-selected layer: CTRL+Arrow keys
Accept changes to Transform: Enter or double left click on object
Accept Crop: Enter or double left click on object


Select All: CTRL+A
De-select: CTRL+D
Reselect: CTRL+Shift+D
Hide/Show Selection: CTRL+H
Close Polygonal Selection: Enter
Discontinue Polygonal Selection: Escape (Esc)
Invert Selection: Shift+CTRL+Alt+I
Feathering: CTRL+Alt+D

Colouring & Correcting Colour

Levels: CTRL+L
Auto Levels: CTRL+Shift+L
Auto Contrast: CTRL+Shift+Alt+L
Auto Colour: CTRL+Shift+B
De-saturate: CTRL+Shift+U
Curves: CTRL+M
Hue & Saturation: CTRL+U
Colour Balance: CTRL+B

Various Photoshop Functions

Undo: CTRL+Z
Redo: CTRL+Shift+Z
Undo Multiple: CTRL+Alt+Z
Redo Multiple: CTRL+Shift+Z
Copy: CTRL+C
Paste: CTRL+V
Apply Last Filter: CTRL+F
Extract: CTRL+Alt+X
Liquify: CTRL+Shift+X
Pattern Maker: CTRL+Shift+Alt+X
Free Transform: CTRL+T
Transform Again: CTRL+Shift+T
Photoshop Preferences: CTRL+K
Colour Setup: CTRL+Shift+K
Show Grid: CTRL+@
Show Ruler: CTRL+R
Snap: CTRL+Shift+;
Lock Guides: CTRL+Alt+;
Help: f1

Photoshop File Management

Open Image: CTRL+O
Close Image: CTRL+W
Close All Images: CTRL+Shift+W
Browse: CTRL+Shift+O
New Image: CTRL+N
Save Image: CTRL+S
Save As: CTRL+Shift+S
Save For Web: CTRL+Shift+Alt+S
Page Setup: CTRL+Shift+P
Print with Preview: CTRL+P
Print: CTRL+Alt+P
Print one Copy: CTRL+Alt+P
Exit Photoshop: CTRL+Q

Layer Management

New Layer: CTRL+Shift+N
Layer Via Copy: CTRL+J
Layer Via Cut: CTRL+Shift+J
Group with Previous: CTRL+G
Un-group: CTRL+Shift+G
Merge Down: CTRL+E
Merge Linked: CTRL+Shift+E

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *