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Five Simple Photoshop Tricks I Bet You Don’t Know

I’ve been using Photoshop since I first got my hands on a copy in 1996 (and yes, it was legit). Over the years I’ve learned so much about how to use it and so decided to share several of my tips that I’ve noticed some people around me don’t yet know.

  1. Pressing the shift key constrains proportions when you resize objects. Simple yet obviously not everybody knows this one. If you don’t hold shift, it stretches. Honestly, I think Adobe products should automatically hold proportions.
  2. Using the erase or pen tool, you can press erase once and then holding down the shift key press somewhere else to draw a straight line: Simple yet effective and works with other tools like the pen tool.
  3. Shift + Backspace fills a selection. Yup, another super-simple one. It’s the same as going to Edit… Fill…
  4. Set your Units of Measurement to pixels. If your artwork is destined for on screen display you should set your Rulers to display units as pixels (it can display inches or whatever unit of measurement that you might want). Often times when I receive someone elses Photoshop file that has guides in it, I find the guides are not snapped to the edge of the pixel. This is because the guide was placed when the unit of measurement was something other than pixels.
  5. Use the sharpen tool on photos. Especially if your photo is destined for web use (or email) and you just resized a big picture to small dimensions. It makes your photos crisp and makes everything and everybody clear. I wrote more about this in April.

That wraps up my Photoshop tips for today. Thanks for attending class.

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13 Comments

  1. I just wanna add some more tips to your otherwise great list.

    Pressing Alt + Backspace fills the layer (or selection) with the background color.
    If you right click (or ctrl click) on the ruler you car switch between different measuring units.

  2. 1. Use it all the time
    2. Didn’t know, thanks!
    3. Vaguely aware, but out of habit I use the Edit > Fill…
    4. Always! First thing I do after a new install.
    5. Usually use the sharpen filter

    Great stuff man. Thanks!

  3. Hey, two comments at same time, mine was meant in response to the first one…

  4. Hidden features that I use more than anything else in photoshop! Perfect tips for a beginner/average photoshop user.

    Bravo Chris

  5. I didn’t even know you could go Edit>Fill…

    Is that bad?

    I always have known about the command+delete and alt+delete…i think it was the first thing someone showed me…

  6. Another handy thing I found in CS2 is the history panel does not truly do all undo steps, like for instance if you turn a text layer off and on, it will not show up in the history list. In order to get every action you do to show up in your history list go to the history options by clicking on the little arrow in the top right hand corner and click on “Make Layer Visibility chsnges undoable” and you all set.

  7. alt + background fills with foreground color
    ctrl + background fills with background color
    shift + background brings up the fill dialog

    🙂