Most Effective Photoshop CS 6 Keyboard Shortcuts

Chaitanya Tapase

Image editing can be a fun experience for a user, but if it’s part of your workflow then it can also be frustrating. Especially if done wrongly or not in the most optimal way. Using Photoshop CS 6 can be a cumbersome experience if you’re not using keyboard shortcuts. But not all keyboard shortcuts are worth remembering.

Shortcuts are effective everywhere. Almost everywhere | Shutterstock
Shortcuts are effective everywhere. Almost everywhere | Shutterstock

Let’s take a look at the ones that can save you the most time and be most effective in improving your workflow.

The Tools

While editing any kind of image, you’d inevitably end up using the tools like move, select, patch and so on. The Move, Marquee, Brush, and Eyedropper are perhaps the ones that are most used by the majority of people. Photoshop themselves have a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts (Edit ->Keyboard Shortcuts) for everything, but it’s way too long and complex to even bother with.

Screenshot 2015-12-22 19.17.26

Maybe you use some other tools, but that’s what you need to memorize first.

V Move
M Marquee tools
L Lasso tools
W Quick Selection, Magic Wand
I Eyedropper, Color Sampler, Ruler, Note, Count
J Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Patch, Red Eye
B Brush, Pencil, Color Replacement, Mixer Brush

If you’re unlike me and use different tools then here’s the list of all other tools that you can find inside Photoshop CS 6.

S Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp
C Crop and Slice Tools
Y History Brush, Art History Brush
E Eraser tools
G Gradient, Paint Bucket
O Dodge, Burn, Sponge
P Pen tools
TType tools
A Path Selection, Direct Selection
U Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line, Custom Shape
K 3D Tools
N 3D Camera Tools
H Hand
R Rotate
Z Zoom
D Default colors
X Switch Foreground and Background colors
Q Quick Mask Mode

The key thing to remember with these shortcuts is how you cycle with ‘nested’ tools. Like the Marquee tool has Rectangular as well as Elliptical marquee within it. But, hitting the keyboard shortcut M won’t cycle between these shortcuts. Rather, you need to tap Shift+M to cycle in between these ‘nested’ tools.


Working on layers using keyboard shortcuts might be trickier than what it sounds, but with a little practice, it actually saves more time. Here is the entire list of keyboard shortcuts when working with layers.

Mac Users: Use the Cmd key instead of Ctrl and Option key instead of Alt.

Create new layer Ctrl-Shift-N
Select non-contiguous layers Ctrl-Click layers
Select contiguous layers Click one layer, then Shift-Click another layer
Delete Layer Delete key
View contents of layer mask Alt-Click layer mask icon
Temporarily turn off layer mask Shift-Click layer mask icon
Clone layer as you move it Alt-Drag
Find/Select layer containing object Control-Click on object w/Move tool
Change layer opacity Number keys (w/Move tool selected)
Cycle down or up through blend modes Shift-Plus(+) or Minus(–)
Change to a specific blend mode (w/Move tool) Shift-Option-letter (ie: N=Normal, M=Multiply. etc.)

Photoshop being a helpful bro!
Photoshop being a helpful bro!


Panel shortcuts might be easy to remember for most and the pen tool has its own set of complex keyboard shortcuts. But, those aren’t as useful as the ones listed below. These will not only help in cutting down time spent on working on the actual edit work but also help with de-cluttering your spaces within Photoshop CS 6.

Switch between open documents Ctrl-tilde(~)
Undo or Redo operations beyond last one Ctrl-Option-Z/-Shift-Z
Apply Last Filter Ctrl-F
Opens Last Filter Dialog Box Ctrl-Alt-F
Hand Tool Spacebar
Reset Dialog Box Hold Alt, Cancel turns into Reset Button, Click it
Increase/Decrease value (in any option field) by 1 unit Up/Down Arrow
Increase/Decrease value (in any option field) by 10 units Shift-Up/Down Arrow
Repeat Last Transformation Ctrl-Shift-T
Measure Angle between Lines (Protractor Function) After ruler is drawn, Option-Drag end of line with Ruler Tool
Move Crop Marquee while creating Hold Space while drawing
Snap Guide to Ruler ticks Hold Shift while dragging
Highlight Fields in Options bar (n/a for all tools) Enter (Return for Mac)
Don’t Snap object edge while moving Hold Control while dragging

If you don’t like the default shortcuts, you can always go to Edit ->Keyboard Shortcuts ->Import icon and import your own set of keyboard shortcuts. Additionally, you can edit the existing shortcuts from the same menu.

Don't let this be you!
Don’t let this be you!

Make Photoshop Faster: Here are the best tips to make Photoshop run faster on any computer.

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Chaitanya Tapase has varied interests in Technology from Android to Windows to DSLR Photography. On weekends, you'd find him catching up on TV Shows like Game of Thrones and enjoying House Music.