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There is no shortcut to experience and hard work in photography. I am a firm believer that your style and nitche can only be discovered by taking the long road.

However, I want you to throw that ALL out the window because TODAY we are taking shortcuts when it comes to photo editing in Photoshop.

In addition to using MCP’s Photoshop actions, which save me a lot of editing time, these are shortcuts that I use to edit almost every single image in Photoshop. Repeat after me: “Completed Time-Savers.”


sundloffphotographykeyboard Learn How to Take Shortcuts When You Edit in Photoshop Photoshop Tips & Tutorials


These are shortcuts I use everyday whether in Photoshop, websurfing, typing, emailing and the list goes on. These should be in EVERYONE’S keyboard short-cutting arsenal. (Is short-cutting a word?  Well it is now.

  • Select All – cmd A (MAC) & ctrl A (PC)
  • Copy – cmd C (MAC) & ctrl C (PC)
  • Paste – cmd V (MAC) & ctrl V (PC)
  • Save – cmd S (MAC) & ctrl S (PC)
  • Save as – cmd+shift S (MAC) & ctrl+shift S (PC)

sundloffphotographykeyboard1 Learn How to Take Shortcuts When You Edit in Photoshop Photoshop Tips & Tutorials


  • Copy layer – cmd J (MAC) & ctrl J (PC)
  • Invert Layer – cmd I (MAC) & ctrl I (PC) – I use this one a ton when inverting a masked layer. Make sure the layer is selected and if inverting a masked layer that it is actually masked before inverting it or you’ll end up with a crazy image. Which is easy to fix by doing the shortcut once again.
  • Transform Layer – cmd T (MAC) & ctrl T (PC) – Brush Resize – there are a couple of ways to change your brush size and with any of the options you must have a brush/painting tool selected
  • Make brush smaller – press [   and    to make brush larger – press  ]
  • Change the brush opacity by using the numbers: 10% brush – press 1, 20% brush – press 2, 30% brush – press 3, and so on and so on all the way to 100% brush – press 0.
  • Make an exact brush size: push two number quickly. 34% – press 3 then 4 quickly.
  • Change the brush size is to hold down Ctrl+Option (MAC) while clicking the mouse or Ctrl+alt (PC)+ while right clicking on the mouse. Then simultaneously while you are pressing these commands you can drag your mouse left or right which will  increase or decrease your brush size or drag it up and down which will increase or decrease your brush hardness.

Oh Goodness have I lost you yet? If you need a break go ahead and pin this post or bookmark it for future reference. You are going to need it to refer to when you are editing, “Now what was that awesome shortcut Lindsay taught me? . . . Oh ya I pinned it so I could reference it later.” That is the conversation you will have in your head. 😉 And you can thank me later. Once you’ve pinned it come on back  we are almost done –  I promise and you’ll love the next shortcut.

My last and final SHORTCUT (step) is a levels shortcut trick that I learned & absolutely fell in LOVE with. It is a levels adjustment that helps to keep your blacks from clipping and your whites from blowing out.

Here we go: Open your image, here is mine for reference:

Sundloffphotographylevelstrickblog021 Learn How to Take Shortcuts When You Edit in Photoshop Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

Then create a level adjustment layer. With the levels layer selected you can click on the left slider while holding the alt key and move to the right. Once that happens you can see how far you can adjust the levels before your blacks start clipping. The portion that is black in the image below would be clipping if I were to leave my slider in that position. So I would move it back until my blacks weren’t clipping. Then I would let go of the mouse and the alt key and my image would return and I would adjust further to my liking if need be.

Sundloffphotographylevelstrickblog Learn How to Take Shortcuts When You Edit in Photoshop Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

The same concept can be done with the right side of the levels slider to work on the highlighted areas instead of the blacks. That image once the slider is pulled to the left while holding the alt key would look like this:

Sundloffphotographylevelstrickblog22 Learn How to Take Shortcuts When You Edit in Photoshop Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

And I know I said I was done, but last but not least I learned how to do a screen capture on a MAC while working on this blog post. cmd+shift+3.

We hope you learned a lot of new shortcuts.  Make sure to download the FREE Printable Shortcut Guide from MCP.


Now it is your turn.  Add your favorite Photoshop shortcuts in the comments below.


Lindsay of Sundloff Photography loves saving time with MCP and shortcut keys.  You can find her on Facebook and on the Sundloff Photography Blog.




No Comments

  1. Holly on January 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Note: when doing brush opacity, hardness or size increase/decrease, you do not click in the size box, just leave the mouse on the project. to increase size/mode/adjustments by 10 Shift+up or down arrow key

    • Holly on January 7, 2014 at 11:42 am

      but first you have to click your cursor in the adjustment amount box

  2. Karen on January 8, 2014 at 10:23 am

    You can Command+shift+4 (Mac) if you only want to capture a certain part of your screen.

  3. Emily Lucarz on January 14, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    This was great! I was looking for something that had all my favorite shortcuts to keep up next to my computer while editing.

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