Photoshop > Tips & Tricks > User Interface Tips

The following tips, pertaining to Adobe Photoshop's user interface, are organized into the these categories:

Next section Application Window

1

Use the Zoom field (Zoom Field in the bottom-left of the document window or Navigator panel) to enter an exact zoom level. Press Shift+Enter, after entering a value, to have the field remain active.

2

To change the information displayed in the status bar, click on the Status Display Options button (Status display options) and choose an option from the pop-up menu. (The default option is Document Sizes.)

You can also click on the status bar (to the left of the Status display options button) to display the print size of the current document. Alt/Opt-click to see the image dimensions and resolution, or Ctrl/Cmd-click for tile information.

Tip: Select Document Profile from the status bar menu (Status display options) to display the colorspace for each document.
3

Double-clicking on Photoshop's background (the gray application background) is equivalent to choosing File » Open, or pressing Ctrl/Cmd+O.

The table below summarizes the various double-click actions as well as their equivalent commands and keyboard shortcuts:

Action Equiv. Command Equivalent Shortcut
Double-click File » Open Ctrl/Cmd+O
Ctrl/Cmd-double-click File » New Ctrl/Cmd+N
Alt/Opt-double-click File » Open As Ctrl/Cmd+Alt/Opt+Shift+O
Alt/Opt+Shift-double-click File » Save As Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+S

4

For those with high-resolution displays (or failing eyesight ;)), try increasing the UI Font Size in Edit » General Preferences. Sizes include Small (the default), Medium and Large.

Note: Changing the UI Font Size requires you to restart Photoshop in order for the changes to take effect.

5

If you have a dual-display setup, Photoshop allows you to work with two separate documents (or two views of the same document), each on their own monitor.

6

In addition to customizing keyboard shortcuts (Edit » Keyboard Shortcuts), you can also customize the menus (Edit » Menus) themselves by hiding/showing and color-coding individual commands.

Customized menus, keyboard shortcuts and panel arrangements may be saved as workspaces via the Window » Workspace » Save Workspace command (or by choosing Save Workspace from the Workspace drop-down on the Options panel).

Note: If you hide menu entries, affected menus get a Show All Menu Items command appended to the bottom. You can also Ctrl/Cmd-click a menu to reveal all hidden commands.

Next section Previous section Document Window

7

Canvas border context menu To change the color of the canvas border, right-click (Ctrl/Cmd-click on the Mac) and choose an option from the context menu that appears.

Change canvas border color Tip: You can also replace the canvas border color with the foreground color by Shift-clicking on it with the Paint Bucket tool (G).

To restore the default color, change the foreground color to 25% gray (R192,G192,B192) and Shift-click on the canvas border again.
8

Press F to cycle between the four available screen modes, or Shift+F to cycle in reverse order.

Alternatively, you can Alt/Opt-click the Change Screen Mode button (Change Screen Mode button) at the bottom of the Tools panel, or Alt/Opt+Shift-click to cycle in reverse order.

Change Screen Mode pop-up menu You can also click and hold the Change Screen Mode button (Change Screen Mode button) and select the desired screen mode from the pop-up menu.

9

Right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on a document window's titlebar to quickly access features like Canvas Size, Image Size, Duplicate and File Info.

10

Pausing with the mouse pointer over a document window's titlebar will display a tooltip containing the document's full path.

Titlebar document path

11

To mark your image as copyrighted, choose File » File Info (Ctrl/Cmd+Alt/Opt+Shift+I), and change the Copyright Status to Copyrighted. Press the OK button, and note that the copyright symbol (©) now appears in front of the document's name in the document titlebar.

Tip: The File Info dialog also enables you to save metadata templates, which allow you to quickly apply custom metadata, including copyright information, to other documents — even as part of a batch process. To save a template, choose Save Metadata Template from the flyout menu (Flyout menu) near the top-right of the File Info dialog.
12

Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts for quickly navigating around the document window:

Keyboard Shortcut Result
Home go to the top-left corner of the canvas
End go to the bottom-right corner of the canvas
Page Up scroll canvas up one page
Page Down scroll canvas down one page
Shift+Page Up scroll canvas up 10 pixels
Shift+Page Down scroll canvas down 10 pixels
Ctrl/Cmd+Page Up scroll canvas left one page
Ctrl/Cmd+Page Down scroll canvas right one page
Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Page Up scroll canvas left 10 pixels
Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Page Down scroll canvas right 10 pixels

13

Use Ctrl/Cmd+Tab and Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Tab to activate the next and previous documents, respectively. Alternatively, you may choose a document, by name, from the bottom of the Window menu.

Note: PC users may also use Ctrl+F6 and Ctrl+Shift+F6 to activate the next and previous documents, respectively.

14

The document titlebar contains a wealth of information about the document, but not all of it's self-explanatory. Here's a sample titlebar with an explanation of what each bit of information means:

Document titlebar

  1. If the current image is copyrighted, a copyright symbol (©) precedes the document name. Choose File » File Info (Ctrl/Cmd+Alt/Opt+Shift+I) to see more information about the copyright.
  2. Next is the document name (e.g., Untitled-1.psd, My Image.gif).
  3. Immediately following the document name is the magnification (viewing size) for the current document (e.g., @ 100%, @ 66.7%).
  4. After that, in parentheses, is the current layer name (e.g., Layer 1).

    Note: If the current document is a flattened image, containing only a Background layer, no layer name is displayed in the titlebar.
  5. The color mode of the document is next (e.g., RGB, CMYK).
  6. Following the mode is the bitdepth (i.e., 8, 16, or 32 bits per channel).
  7. Next is the profile indicator. A pound symbol (#) means that the document is untagged (i.e., contains no profile, and is not color-managed); an asterisk (*) implies that the document colorspace is different from the working colorspace; and the absence of either symbol means that the colorspace of the document matches the working colorspace.
  8. The final bit of information is the soft-proofing mode (e.g., CMYK, Monitor), which only appears if enabled via View » Proof Colors (Ctrl/Cmd+Y).

    Note: When converting profiles (Edit » Convert to Profile) this area will display the word Preview (provided that Preview is enabled in the Convert to Profile dialog box).

15

If you have a mouse or stylus with a scroll wheel, you can use the scroll wheel to zoom in (forward on the scroll wheel) and out (backward on the scroll wheel) relative to the cursor position.

Note: This requires the Zoom with Scroll Wheel option to be enabled: Edit » General Preferences (Ctrl/Cmd+K).

16

You can change the zoom level, blending mode, opacity, fill opacity, and/or visible channels while transforming the active layer.

Note: Unfortunately this only works for single-layer transformations (i.e., you cannot change these properties for multi-layer transformations). Also, keyboard shortcuts do not work, so you'll have to change properties manually.

Next section Previous section Panels

17

To reset all panels to their default locations, choose Window » Workspace » Reset Panel Locations.

You can also reset all panels by choosing Default Workspace from the Workspace drop-down on the right side of the Options panel.

18

To reset the contents of an individual panel, choose the Reset "Panel Name" command from the panel's flyout menu (Panel menu).

Note: The Reset command is not available for all panels.

19

Press the Tab key to hide all panels. Press Shift+Tab to hide all panels except the Tools panel.

20

When all panels are hidden, press the Enter key to reveal just the Options panel.

Note: Since there's no default keyboard shortcut associated with the Options panel, you'll have to press the Tab key twice, or choose Window » Options to rehide the Options panel.

21

Hold down the Ctrl/Cmd while dragging panels to prevent them from snapping to the edges of the screen, the application interface, and other panels.

22

To change the size of the thumbnails in the Layers, Channels, and Paths panels, right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on an empty area of the panel and choose None, Small, Medium, or Large.

Note: To change the size of the thumbnails in the Animation panel, choose Palette Options from the panel menu (Panel menu).

23

Opacity slider Press the / (left/right arrow) keys to decrease/increase slider bars by 1%. Add the Shift key to decrease/increase by 10% increments.

24

Right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on thumbnails in the Layers panel to display a context menu of available commands.

Note: Different context menus appear, depending on whether you click on the layer thumbnail, the associated masks, the layer name, or the layer styles icon (Layer styles icons).

25

To minimize a panel (or group of panels), you don't necessarily have to click on the tiny minimize button (Minimize panel): clicking anywhere in the area that surrounds the panel's tab will minimize it. You can even double-click a panel's tab to minimize the panel (or group of panels).

26

Press Shift+Enter in panel fields to apply the current value but have the field remain active. This is a quick way to experiment with different values.

27

Alt/Opt-click on a disclosure icon (Disclosure icon) to expand or collapse all child elements of an action, or layer group.

28

You may "stack" panels by dragging one panel onto the bottom of another panel — a highlight appears to along the bottom edge of the target panel. You can also insert panels between other stacked panels by dragging them over the dividing line that separates the panels.

Tip: To group panels together, drop one panel onto the top of another panel — the target panel will appear highlighted/outlined.
29

Click the background color well/swatch on the Color panel (not the Tools panel) to have any color changes affect the background color — a black outline indicates the active color well.

30

With the Eyedropper tool selected, press the Alt/Opt key to choose a color for the opposite/unselected color well.

For example, if the foreground color is the active color well, press the Alt/Opt key to select a color for the background, and vice versa.

31

Shift-click on the color ramp, on the bottom of the Color panel, to change the spectrum. Alternatively, you may either right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on the color ramp or make a selection from the panel menu (Panel menu).

32

With the Swatches panel (Window » Show Swatches):

Tip: When creating a new swatch, hold down the Alt/Opt key to bypass the Color Swatch Name dialog.
33

Define view area Ctrl/Cmd-drag inside of the proxy preview area of the Navigation panel to specify a new view area for the current document.

Shift-drag within the proxy preview area to constrain movement vertically or horizontally.

Tip: Change the color of the proxy view highlight by selecting Palette Options from the panel menu (Panel menu).
34

The History panel (Window » Show History) allows you to create a duplicate image from the currently selected history state or snapshot by:

35

Drag a history state from the History panel and drop it onto any other document window to replace the contents of the document with the selected history state.

36

Alt/Opt-click on any history state (other than the current state), to duplicate it. The duplicated state becomes the active state.

37

Alt/Opt-click on the New Snapshot button (Create new snapshot), at the bottom of the History panel, to display a dialog that allows you to duplicate the Full Document, Merged Layers, or Current Layer.

38

Use the / (up/down arrow) keys, or scroll wheel, to change the values in entry fields and drop-downs. Add the Shift key to change the values by a larger increment.

39

To replace the current preset (e.g., brushes, swatches and shapes) without being prompted for confirmation, hold down the Alt/Opt key while choosing a preset from the Preset Manager or a panel menu (Panel menu).

40

When the Color panel is in Web-safe mode, Alt/Opt-drag the sliders to prevent them from snapping to the Web-safe tick marks.

41

Highlight fields Click on field titles to highlight/select the contents within the field (or to turn checkboxes on/off).

42

To customize the information displayed in the Info panel, choose Palette Options from the panel menu (Panel menu). In addition to customizable color readouts and units, you can also add a number of status items such as document profile, dimensions, efficiency, and so on. There's even a Show Tool Hints option that provides instructions and modifier keys for beginners.

43

Normally when a panel is open and visible, its name is preceded by a checkmark in the Window menu; but, if the panel is open and not visible (i.e., it's obstructed by another panel), its name is proceeded by a hyphen/dash in the Window menu.

44

Position the mouse pointer over a numeric field's title (e.g., the Opacity or Fill fields at the top of the Layers panel): the pointer turns into a hand with bi-directional arrows (Scrubby pointer), which indicates a "scrubby control". Hold down the mouse button and move left or right to decrease or increase the field value. Add the Alt/Opt key to change values ten times slower, or the Shift key to change values ten times faster.

Note: Most numeric fields support scrubby controls, but for cases where the scrubby pointer doesn't appear, try holding down the Ctrl/Cmd key to invoke it.

45

Some fields in the Options panel — such as those for Crop, Fixed Size Marquees, Numeric Transforms and Corner Radius (for Rounded Rectangles) — allow you to choose/convert units via the context-menu that appears when you right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on the numeric fields.

46

The size of the font previews in the Character and Options panels may be configured via the Edit » Preferences » Type dialog. Options include Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Huge.

Previous section Dialog Boxes

47

Hold down the Alt/Opt key to change any dialog's Cancel button into a Reset button. This allows you to easily restore values without having to cancel and reopen the dialog.

48

For dialog boxes that contain multiple pages (e.g., General Preferences, Preset Manager), use Ctrl/Cmd+N and Ctrl/Cmd+P to go to the next and previous pages, respectively.

49

Favorites menu Use the Favorites button (Favorites) in the Open dialog to store folders that you visit on a regular basis.

50

Use the Web Color field (#) in the Color Picker dialog box to copy and paste color values from one place in Photoshop to another (or even to another application that supports hexadecimal Web colors).

Tip: Click directly on the # label to select the contents of the color field, then press Ctrl/Cmd+C to copy the color value, followed by Esc to dismiss the Color Picker dialog.
51

When selecting colors in the Color Picker dialog or Color panel, click on the Web-safe color warning icon (Web-safe color warning) to force the selected color to the nearest Web-safe equivalent. Click on the Out of gamut warning icon (Out of gamut warning) to force the selected color to the nearest print-safe color.

52

In the Save for Web & Devices dialog, hold down the Alt/Opt key to change the OK button into a Remember button. The Remember button assigns the current optimization settings to the active document — and they're remembered even if you subsequently cancel out of the dialog. In addition, remembered settings are saved along with the document.

53

The Use Adobe Dialog button near the lower-left corner of the standard Open and Save dialogs allows you to switch to the proprietary Adobe dialog, which offer the following advantages over the standard dialog:

One feature that's noticeably missing from the Adobe dialog though, is the file preview/thumbnail that's provided at the bottom of the standard dialog.

Note: If you don't see the Use Adobe Dialog button in the lower-left corner of the Open and Save dialogs, choose Edit » Preferences » File Handling, and then turn on the Enable Version Cue option. Don't worry if you don't have, or don't use Version Cue: this setting just needs to be on to enable the Use Adobe Dialog button (for whatever reason).

 

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