A “cheat sheet” of the key shortcuts for Photoshop
When used properly (and ethically), Photoshop is a powerful tool for image post-processing. There are dozens of tools and hundreds of functions you can access to fine-tune your images to (near) perfection. In most cases, you’ll probably only need to access about five percent of what Photoshop has to offer.
To really streamline your post-processing—and dramatically reduce your editing time—it’s critical to use shortcuts. Shortcuts are a combination of two or three keys that bring you directly to a tool or function without having to move the mouse and click. Some are simple and obvious, such as Command + L (Ctrl + L) for Levels. While others are a bit more obscure: How about Command + Option + Shift + I (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I) for file info?
Here are 15 key shortcuts for taking control of your underwater images in Photoshop.
Be it a macro image or a wide-angle wonder, we all need to crop in our shots. Sometimes, it’s a minor adjustment like rotating the crop to straighten the horizon. Other times, you might need to crop way in on a tiny macro critter and take full advantage of your camera’s resolution. Either way, just hit the C key and Photoshop enters Crop mode.
Levels, an essential tool for the beginning stages of editing, can be used to adjust the levels of the histogram either in a comprehensive RGB mode, or broken down into individual tones (Red, Green, Blue). Command + L (Ctrl + L) brings you right to this useful tool.
Levels is one of the go-to tools for fine-tuning exposure of an image
Curves can be used to really make your image “pop” by adjusting the colors of highlights, midtones, and shadows. If your image seems a bit flat, try using the shortcut Command + M (Ctrl + M) to access curves and decreasing the shadows while increasing the highlights.
4. Lasso Tool
The Lasso tool is the go-to for selecting areas of an image—whether to edit the exposure, remove backscatter, or copy and paste. Skip clicking on the menu bar and just press L instead.
5. Quick Selection
If using the Lasso tool just takes too much time, try out the Quick Selection tool, which swiftly highlights a section of the image without having to painstakingly follow the edges. Press W to access the tool just as quickly.
Use the Quick Selection tool to highlight large areas without having to manually lasso
6. Spot Healing Brush
This magic Photoshop innovation uses super smart algorithms to sample pixels around an imperfection—say backscatter, detritus, or a fish blemish—and automatically “heal” the selected spot. It’s such an easy tool to use that you might as well access it the easy way: Just press J.
7. Zoom In/Out
There are lots of ways to zoom in and out of an image in Photoshop, like using the magnification scroll bar at the bottom of the image or using a fancy photo editing mouse. But if you want to keep your hands on the keys, Command + + (Ctrl + +) and Command + – (Ctrl + –) will zoom in and out, respectively.
While most of your images’ hue issues will be sorted out by manually setting a white balance point during RAW conversion, saturation adjustment is useful because it allows you to selectively increase/decrease the saturation of each individual tone. Combining Command + U (Ctrl + U) will bring you right to this adjustment panel.
Saturation can be increased/decreased as a whole, or one color at a time
Uh-oh. Did you make an adjustment or use a tool to the wrong effect? Don’t worry. You can go back step by step just by pressing Command + Z (Ctrl + Z) to Undo. Want to undo multiple steps? Try using the repeat undo shortcut Command + Option + Z (Ctrl + Alt + Z).
10. New Layer
Once you master the basics of Photoshop, it’s time to move on to layers. You can read more about how to use layers to edit backscatter or fine-tune exposure here, but if you want to add a new layer quickly, just hit Command + Shift + N (Ctrl + Shift + N).
11. Layer Via Copy (and Move)
One of the most popular backscatter removal techniques involves copying a portion of the image, darkening it, and shifting it slightly. You can learn the full technique here. It saves a ton of time when dealing with backscatter. Save even more time by using the Lasso tool (L) to select a portion of the image, Command + J (Ctrl + J) to layer via copy, and V to move. The backscatter will disappear!
Content Aware Fill is a very handy tool for removing larger objects from the frame. These can be bubbles in the background, a mooring ball line, or even an unwanted dive buddy. Use either the Quick Selection (W) or Lasso tool (L) to select what you want to remove and then Shift + F5 to bring up the Fill menu.
Use the Fill tool along with Content Aware to remove unwanted elements of an image
The Dodge and Burn tools are quick and easy ways to bring up shadows and darken highlights, respectively. Pressing O will automatically switch you to these tools, and you can switch between dodging and burning on the side panel.
14. File Info
The File Info window is important for several reasons: It displays the camera data, allows you to add keywords, and can be used to rate your image for organization purposes. It’s a great way to imbed captions into your images and is as simple as Command + Option + Shift + I (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I).
15. Export As
The time has come to share your images with the world! You’ll likely need to change the default file type, the dimensions of the image, and even the quality of the final file. Do it all at once with the Export As function, which is accessed by pressing the combination of Command + Option + Shift + W (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + W).
When you’re ready to export, this shortcut will take care of image dimensions, type, and file size
Plan Your Adventure >