Photoshop Tips and Tricks

We have a number of people here that are great at Photoshop so we need a place for people to share their wisdom with Photoshop. When you post your tips or tricks please note which version of Photoshop so others might see why it might be a little different on their version.

Open you JPEG photos in Adobe Raw

[h=4]To set a preference so your JPEG or TIFF photos open directly into Camera Raw[/h] 1. In Bridge, choose Edit/Adobe Bridge CS6 > Camera Raw Preferences.
2. At the bottom of the dialog, from the JPEG menu, choose Automatically Open JPEGs with Settings, and from the TIFF menu, choose Automatically Open TIFFs with Settings, then click OK

Blade Canyon

Senior Member
I'll join you. This is a very basic tip about adjustment layers, but I was ignorant of it for years. When I used to tweak pics in Photoshop, I would go to the Image menu, then pick adjustments, then tweak brightness/contrast, hue/saturation, color balance, levels, etc. This was all done on the image itself without making new layers. (Sometimes I might copy the background layer, just to keep it preserved in case my changes screwed it up too much.)

I have used Photoshop for years, but never understood the value of adjustment layers and layer masks. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, many of the tweaks you might make on your pictures (levels, brightness/contrast, hue/saturation, color balance, etc.) can be done in individual layers. Those are called adjustment layers, and each adjustment layer has the added benefit of a layer mask that goes with it.

To create an adjustment layer, go to the Layer menu, then choose New Adjustment Layer, then choose the specific tweak you want to make. Alternatively, if your layers window is open, just click on the white/black circle in the middle of the items on the bottom of the menu. It will give you a list of tweaks to choose from.

Say you want your subject to have normal color saturation, but you want the background to be desaturated. I used to go through a laborious selection process so that an effect might affect only part of the image. With adjustment layers, however, you choose the hue/saturation adjustment layer, and that new layer appears with the hue/saturation control box open and ready. You reduce the saturation so the background looks right, then close the control box.

Wait, your subject is also desaturated? Here's where the layer mask comes in. The layer mask is the all-white box on the same layer in the layer window. All parts on the mask that are white let the desaturation effect go through. Click on that white box, then get a paintbrush with soft edges and choose black as your color. Now start painting the black directly on your subject. If you have properly selected the layer mask, you will not see black painted on your subject. Instead, you will start to see the original saturation levels return to the places you are painting black. That's because the black paint is on the layer mask itself, and the black blocks the layer's effect. If you paint with lower opacity (shades of gray), you can control the amount of the effect you let through.

One other great benefit of the layer mask is that if you overdo the effect, you can then go to that layer's properties and turn down the layer's opacity, thus reducing the effect over the entire picture.

If you don't know about adjustment layers and layer masks, there are many videos on Youtube that show you how to use them. Much more info than I can put here, but it's the best new thing I've learned in PS in years.
Last edited:
Thanks Blade Canyon,

Up till recently I had been using CS5 and had never really delved into it and was only using a very small portion of what is available. I upgraded to CS6 recently and am trying to learn all I can. Moved to shooting in RAW only and the Adobe RAW editor is so much better. The shadow control is probably my second favorite control. My favorite is the Clarity control. It really gives many photos the Pop that I like. I have to be careful not to overdo it.
I will be working on adjustment layers as soon as I get off here. One other question though. Do you flatten the layers at some point or just let the eventual JPEG save take care of that?

Blade Canyon

Senior Member
You're right, the RAW editor is great, and you can fix clarity, shadows, and even add some minor vignetting while still in Adobe RAW. You can also fix the white balance in RAW, even on JPEGs, by opening the JPEGs from the Bridge into the Adobe RAW editor. (What you said in your second post... good tip!)

That's a good point about whether to flatten or merge the layers. If I have a great image I might want to keep adjusting, I will save it as PSD file. That way it will re-open with all of those layers already set up for re-adjusting again. Otherwise, I choose "flatten image" from the Layers menu, then save it as a high-rez JPEG under a different name from the original file (so I still have the original file without adjustments).

Some features (such as gaussian blur or the high pass filter, things often used for portrait touch ups) have to work on a layer that has the whole image. That means you might first make all your color/exposure/contrast/curves/levels/saturation adjustments in adjustment layers, but then choose "merge visible" or flatten image from the layers menu. You can also make the combined layer a "smart object." I have not discovered many benefits of the "smart object" option, but all of the Youtube tutorials seem to think it's the way to go.

If you just want to save your work as a JPEG with no other work, PS will do it automatically if you pick "Save As" then JPEG in the File menu.

Blade Canyon

Senior Member
Instagram in Photoshop CS6 and CC

If you like Instagram, I just found out they have the same kind of presets built into CS6 and CC (Creative Cloud) versions of Photoshop. Go to adjustment layer (as described before) and select the "Color Lookup" option. A box with three drop down text windows opens. Open the first drop down list, and you are presented with many different choices for film-type appearance. This is like all of the filter options that Instagram offers. Scroll down and test a bunch of them until you find one you like. For you old analog shooters, there are even options to make your image look like it was shot on specific types of Kodak and Fuji films.

You can now lease the Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud without buying the program. The program is still loaded onto your computer, and you do not have to be online to use the program. You do have to log in to Adobe once per month with that PC to renew the monthly license. I'm paying $10 per month just for Photoshop because I had CS5, and $10 is the reduced monthly price for someone who was eligible for an upgrade.

Alternatively, you can still find cheap old boxed versions of past Photoshop versions. For years I used only Photoshop 6, which has almost all of the regular editing tools.


Senior Member
I came across a handy tip a few years ago which can work wonders for those working with lo-res images. Trying to sharpen images using the sharp filters merely increases noise, which is immediately visible when zooming in. "Sharpen more" makes the image unusable.

So how do you tweak that photo that has fuzzy edges? Strange as it may appear, you do it by using the "smart blur" filter.:confused:
Apply the smart blur to your image keeping the radius at 3px. Then, in the Edit menu, click on "Fade Smart Blur" and change the mode to "Colour". This can be repeated several times and makes a noticeable difference without increasing noise.

As with most filters in PS, changes are most apparent in lo-res images. I don't know how many times it would be necessary with hi-res as each passage will have a very subtle effect. This can be used with all recent versions of PS (I believe I used it in 5.5 which was bundled with a scanner I bought).


Senior Member
Best advice, learn the short cuts.

One is how to make your brush smaller or bigger - on a mac, hold down ctrl + alt and drag your mouse (brush) right or left.


Senior Member
Best advice, learn the short cuts.

One is how to make your brush smaller or bigger - on a mac, hold down ctrl + alt and drag your mouse (brush) right or left.

This should help





Senior Member
More Shortcuts-

Draw Marquee from CenterOption-Marquee
Add to a SelectionShift
Subtract from a SelectionOption
Intersection with a SelectionShift-Option
Make Copy of Selection w/Move toolOption-Drag Selection
Make Copy of Selection when not in Move toolCmd-Option-Drag Selection
Move Selection (in 1-pixel Increments)Arrow Keys
Move Selection (in 10-pixel Increments)Shift-Arrow Keys
Select all Opaque Pixels on LayerCmd-Click on Layer Thumbnail (in Layers panel)
Restore Last SelectionCmd-Shift-D
Feather Selection Shift-F6
Move Marquee while drawing selectionHold Space while drawing marquee
Fit on ScreenDouble-click on Hand tool or Cmd-0
100% View Level (Actual Pixels)Double-Click on Zoom Tool or Cmd-Option-0
Zoom in Cmd-Space-Click or Cmd-Plus(+)
Zoom outOption-Space-Click or Cmd-Minus(–)
Hide all tools and panelsTab
Hide all panels except Toolbox and Options barShift-Tab
Rotate through full screen modesF
Scroll image left or right in windowCmd-Shift-Page Up/Down
Jump/Zoom to part of ImageCmd-drag in Navigator panel
Toggles layer mask on/off as rubylith\
Layer Shortcuts
Create new layerCmd-Shift-N
Select non-contiguous layersCmd-Click layers
Select contiguous layersClick one layer, then Shift-Click another layer
Delete LayerDelete key
View contents of layer maskOption-Click layer mask icon
Temporarily turn off layer maskShift-Click layer mask icon
Clone layer as you move itOption-Drag
Find/Select layer containing objectControl-Click on object w/Move tool
Change layer opacityNumber keys (w/Move tool selected)
Cycle down or up through blend modesShift-Plus(+) or Minus(–)
Change to a specific blend mode(w/Move tool) Shift-Option-letter (ie: N=Normal, M=Multiply. etc.)
Switch to layer below/above current layerOption-[ or Option-]
Move layer below/above current layerCmd-[ or Cmd-]
Type Shortcuts
Select all text on layerDouble-Click on T thumbnail in Layers panel
Increase/Decrease size of selected text by 2ptsCmd-Shift->/<
Increase/Decrease size of selected text by 10 ptsCmd-Option-Shift->/<
Increase/Decrease kerning/trackingOption-Right/Left Arrow
Align text left/center/rightCmd-Shift-L/C/R
Fill selection with background colorCmd-Delete
Fill selection with foreground colorOption-Delete
Fill selection with foreground color using Lock Transparent PixelsOption-Shift-Delete
Fill selection with source state in History panelCmd-Option-Delete
Display Fill dialog boxShift-Delete
Sample as background colorOption-Click w/Eyedropper tool
To get Move tool While in any painting/editing tool-hold Cmd
To get Eyedropper with Paint toolsOption
Change paint opacity (with Airbrush OFF)Number keys
Change paint opacity (with Airbrush ON)Shift-Number keys
Change Airbrush flow (with Airbrush ON)Number keys
Change Airbrush flow (with Airbrush OFF)Shift-Number keys
Cross-Hair CursorAny painting/editing tool-turn Caps Lock on
Decrease/Increase Brush Size[ or ]
Decrease/Increase Hardness of BrushShift-[ or Shift-]
Switch between preset Brushes< or >
Open Brushes pop-up panelCtrl-Click in Image window
Erase to History panel's source stateOption-Eraser
Cycle down or up through blend modesShift-Plus(+) or Minus(–)
Change to a specific blend modeShift-Opt-letter (ie: N=Normal, M=Multiply, etc.)
Create fixed color target from within a dialog boxShift-Click in image window
Delete fixed color targetOption-Click on target with Color Sampler tool
Create new spot-color channel from current selectionCmd-Click on New Channel button in Channels panel
Pen Tool Shortcuts
To get Direct Selection tool while using PenCmd
Switch between Add-Anchor and Delete-Anchor Point toolsOption
Switch from Path Selection tool to Convert Point tool when pointer is over anchor pointCmd-Option
To Select a whole path w/Direct Selection toolOption-click
Convert path to a selectionCmd-click on path name (in Paths panel)
Panel Shortcuts
Show/Hide Brushes panel F5
Show/Hide Color panelF6
Show/Hide Layers panelF7
Show/Hide Info panelF8
Show/Hide Actions panelOption-F9
Open Adobe BridgeCmd-Option-O
Other Shortcuts
Switch between open documentsCmd-tilde(~)
Undo or Redo operations beyond last oneCmd-Option-Z/-Shift-Z
Apply Last FilterCmd-F
Opens Last Filter Dialog BoxCmd-Option-F
Hand ToolSpacebar
Reset Dialog BoxHold Option, Cancel turns into Reset Button, Click it
Increase/Decrease value (in any option field) by 1 unitUp/Down Arrow
Increase/Decrease value (in any option field) by 10 unitsShift-Up/Down Arrow
Repeat Last TransformationCmd-Shift-T
Measure Angle between Lines (Protractor Function)After ruler is drawn, Option-Drag end of line with Ruler Tool
Move Crop Marquee while creatingHold Space while drawing
Snap Guide to Ruler ticksHold Shift while dragging
Highlight Fields in Options bar (n/a for all tools)Return
Don't Snap object edge while movingHold Control while dragging
MMarquee tools
LLasso tools
WQuick Selection, Magic Wand
CCrop and Slice Tools
IEyedropper, Color Sampler, Ruler, Note, Count
JSpot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Patch, Red Eye
BBrush, Pencil, Color Replacement, Mixer Brush
SClone Stamp, Pattern Stamp
YHistory Brush, Art History Brush
EEraser tools
GGradient, Paint Bucket
ODodge, Burn, Sponge
PPen tools
TType tools
APath Selection, Direct Selection
URectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line, Custom Shape
K3D Tools
N3D Camera Tools
DDefault colors
XSwitch Foreground and Background colors
QQuick Mask Mode
To switch between all tools within groups, add the Shift key to the letters above
For example, to switch between rectangular and elliptical marquee hit Shift-M


Senior Member
OK all you Photoshop Gurus. I'm so new to really using Photoshop, and photography in general. However, occasional I shot some pretty good shots, in my opinion, but the problem is when I go to have them printed in 8 x10, or 11 x 14, the full shot is chopped. I have tried to re-size in Photoshop, but I either distort the picture or crop out some of the shot. Isn't there and easy way of resizing without distorting? Is there a setting on my Nikon d5100 to change the size to where I don't have this problem?
OK all you Photoshop Gurus. I'm so new to really using Photoshop, and photography in general. However, occasional I shot some pretty good shots, in my opinion, but the problem is when I go to have them printed in 8 x10, or 11 x 14, the full shot is chopped. I have tried to re-size in Photoshop, but I either distort the picture or crop out some of the shot. Isn't there and easy way of resizing without distorting? Is there a setting on my Nikon d5100 to change the size to where I don't have this problem?

The short answer is no. You have two choices that you can do to fix it. One is to print in sizes that don't crop the picture. The other is to shoot leaving room to crop without losing anything of importance.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2
Last edited:

Mike D90

Senior Member
As Don said, print in the right ratios for digital prints. 4x6, 8x12, 16x24 etc. Other wise you need to set up your image in Photoshop to fit inside a 5x7, 8x10 frame with lots of room on each side. If I print on 5x7 or 8x10 I make a new Photoshop PSD window and size it to either 5x7 or 8x10 inches and set DPI to 300.

I open the image I want and drag it into the new window. I then size it within the frame borders of the pre-sized window and leave room for borders and matting.


Senior Member
Thanks, I going to try and the new window trick. Hey, that worked great! Just made a quick draft print, and it came out great!
Last edited:


Senior Member
Does anyone have a problem with the liquify filter crashing in photoshop CC creative cloud? If so, has anyone found a solution. Even happens if I try to use it on the tiniest selection, the dialogue box opens, then crashes CS6 CC