120 Photoshop tips, tricks and fixes

Improve your skills and speed up your workflow with these 120 expert Photoshop tips, tricks and fixes covering brush tools, layers, shortcuts and more.

Photoshop is an easy tool to use and a difficult one to master, but help is at hand with our comprehensive list of tips, tricks and fixes for Adobe's showpiece software. Whether you're looking for tips on using layers, advice on mastering the pen tool, a guide to using RAW, or ways to improve your brush work, it's all here!

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Most of these tips were originally published in Practical Photoshop magazine – now part of Digital Camera World. If you're a photographer, we recommend making DCW a rest stop on your travels around the web!


Here are the best Photoshop tips, whether you are using an older CS version or the very latest Creative Cloud software.

Quick Photoshop tips

01. Rotating patterns

 Rotating Patterns
Photoshop tips: Rotating Patterns

You can make amazing kaleidoscopic patterns with the help of a keyboard shortcut. Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T lets you duplicate a layer and repeat a transformation in one go. To demonstrate, we've made a narrow glowing shape by squeezing a lens flare effect, but you can use any shape, image or effect you like. First, make an initial rotation by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+T and turning slightly, then hit Enter to apply. Next, press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T repeatedly to create a pattern.

02. Combine images with text

 Combining images with text
Photoshop tips: Combining images with text

There's a really easy way to overlay an image on top of text. Drop an image layer over a type layer then hold down Alt and click the line between the two layers in the Layers Panel to clip the image to the text.

03. Bird's Eye View

When zoomed in close, hold down H and drag in the image to instantly dart out to full screen then jump back to another area. One of the best Photoshop tips for viewing work!

04. Quick full Layer Masks

You can Alt-click on the Layer Mask icon to add a full mask that hides everything on the layer.

05. Easier marquee selections

Hold down Alt to start a selection at the centre point with any Marquee tool, and then hold Space to temporarily move the selection around.

06. Funky backgrounds

 Funky background
Photoshop tips: Funky backgrounds

Want to change the default grey background to something more funky? Shift–click over the background area with the Paint Bucket tool to fill it with your foreground colour. Right-click it to go back to grey.

07. 1000 History states

Go to Edit>Preferences>Performance to change the number of History states up to a maximum of 1000. Beware though of the effect that this has on performance.

08. Colour Code Layers

Use colour coding to organise your Layers Panel. Right-click over a layer's eye icon to quickly access 8 colour code choices.

09. Close all images

To close all of your documents at the same time, Shift-click any image window's close icon.

10. Spring-loaded Move

While using any tool, hold Cmd/Ctrl to temporarily switch to the Move tool. Release to go back to your original tool. Note that spring-loaded keyboard shortcuts work for other tool shortcuts, too.

11. Interactive Zoom

For interactive zooming, hold Cmd/Ctrl+Space then drag right to zoom in, or left to zoom out. The zoom targets where your mouse icon is, so it's one of the quickest ways to navigate around an image.

12. Lightning fast layer copies

Hold down Cmd+Alt and drag any layer to instantly make a copy.

13. Diffuse effects

 Diffuse effects
Photoshop tips: Diffuse effects

The Diffuse Glow filter can give highlights a soft ethereal feel, especially when you combine the effect with desaturation. Hit D to reset colours then go to Filter>Distort> Diffuse Glow. Keep the effect fairly subtle, then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/ Saturation and drop the saturation down to complete the dreamlike effect.

14. Undo, Undo, Undo

You probably know that Cmd/Ctrl+Z is Undo, but you may not know Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Z lets you undo more than one history state.

15. Cycle Blend Modes

Shift + or will cycle through different layer Blend Modes, so long as you don't have a tool that uses Blend Mode options settings.

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