19 Photoshop Time Saving Tips

19 Photoshop Time Saving Tips

I have noticed a recent trend, particularly in Architectural photography, for a higher volume of shots per job. Sometimes as much work is done in front of a computer as is done from behind the camera. This is not including complex retouching, but just getting images up to an acceptable standard.

Going back to the “good old days” of film; six to twelve shots, supplied on 5×4 film, with a 2 to 3 day turnaround was quite normal. Clients also had larger budgets to spend on advertising i.e. being able to splash out on models, props and, of course, photography.

Today, we live in a very different world, where a significantly higher volume of shots are expected and sometimes need to be supplied within one day of shooting. Photographers in the advertising business have a dilemma: do they work on quality or quantity. Most photographers will want to go with quality, but clients want choice and push towards quantity.

Having a good workflow, automating those long tedious tasks, knowing the short cuts (particularly in Photoshop) and knowing your client will allow photographers and retouchers to get a larger volume of shots up to a good standard within a required period of time.

Below I would like to share a few of my favourite Photoshop time-saving tips, using Mac.  If you’re not already using them, I would recommend that you do. The time invested in learning them will more than be paid back.

Moving around the image quickly

  • • ⌘Cmd and Spacebar. Click and drag to the right to zoom in. Click and drag to the left to zoom out. On older versions of Photoshop you need to click and draw a box around the area you want to zoom in on.
  • • Hold down the spacebar, click and drag to scroll around the image when zoomed in
  • • Press and hold the ⌘Cmd key to temporarily access the move tool. When you let go of the ⌘ Cmd key you automatically go back to the last tool selected in the tool pallet. (This is different from using the “V” key which changes the tool selected in the tool pallet to the move tool)
  • • To see the whole image again, in a full sized window press ⌘ Cmd and 0 keys.
  • • To zoom in by increments press  ⌘Cmd and + keys.
  • • To zoom out by increments press ⌘Cmd and – keys.


Selecting useful tools

  •  • B key to select brush.
  • • J key to select Healing tool.
  • • L key to select Lasso selection tool.
  • • T key for type tool.
  • • C key for crop tool.
  • • G key for gradient tool.
  • • P key for pen tool.
  • • S key for stamp tool (also known as clone tool).


Other useful shortcuts

  • •  [ (open square brackets) key to decrease size of any brush tools.
  • • ] (close square brackets) key to increase size of any brush tools.
  • • Number keys to change opacity of any of the brush tools by increments of 10%: 1=10%, 2=20%, 3=30% etc. The only not so obvious one is 0=100%.
  • • ⌘Cmd and Z key to undo last history state. Pressing repeatedly will toggle between the last 2 states recorded in the history pallett. To keep moving back through the history states use the ⌥Alt key also (i.e. ⌥Alt, ⌘Cmd and Z keys).
  • • ⌘Cmd and S keys to save your work. Press these keys regularly to avoid accidentally losing work. I’m in the habit of pressing these keys every time I answer the phone.

There are many more shortcuts, but these are what I consider to be the most important. Using them regularly will save hours of time.

If there are any other tools or menu items not mentioned here that you use regularly it is quite simple to find out the shortcut. Hovering over a tool in the tool pallett should reveal the shortcut to that tool. Viewing dropdown menus also shows shortcuts. It’s important to note there’s not a shortcut for everything.

I would also recommend learning to use Photoshop’s actions. This is very useful to apply a sequence of tasks on one or more images at the click of a button. It is also a big enough topic for a blog all of its own, which I will write about next.

If there are any Photoshop shortcuts you use regularly or related comments and questions, please feel free to share them on this blog.

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