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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Okay, this next power shortcut I'm going to show you, it's not unique to Photoshop. Almost every application has what we call contextual menus. But Photoshop has really maximized the use of contextual menus and has made them very convenient. Just about every tool has a very useful contextual menu available to it. For those of you who don't know what a contextual menu is, it just means when you right-click, if you have a two-button mouse, or Ctrl-click on a Mac if you don't have a two- button mouse, you get a pop-up menu directly into your cursor that gives you some interesting useful functionality without having to hunt and peck around other parts of the application to get to it.
So I'll give you two or three of my favorite examples of how contextual menus really make you a lot more efficient inside Photoshop. The first one of course is the Brush tool. As I'm painting, if I want to edit any attribute about particular brush, I don't have to go to the separate Brushes panel or go back up to the Brushes panel and click up here. I can, right where my cursor happens to be, right-click or Ctrl-click and I get a pop-up Brushes panel right there directly under my cursor. Anytime you want to get out of the contextual menu just hit your Escape key to make it go away. So that's for the Brush tool. I'm in my Move tool.
This is probably my all-time favorite. You don't necessarily have to have the Layers panel open to get to the particular layer you are looking for. Matter of fact you can see here I have collapsed my Layers panel just to an Icon View. And if I right-click or Ctrl- click on a particular layer I'll see a built-in Layers panel, a list of layers directly under my cursor, but it's contextual. It only shows me the names of the layers that have pixels directly under my cursor, so in this case there is a layer called Falling and the Background layer. If I choose Falling by clicking that is now my selected layer. I can go ahead and reposition that. If I right-click there I get the Running layer or the Background layer. If I right-click here I'm going to get three layers because directly under my cursor, all three layers of pixels, are Running, Hugging and Background. So that's probably one of my favorite contextual menus, to actually see a list of the named layers directly under my cursor.
There are things others. If I have a selection, I press M for the Marquee tool and I make a selection. If I want to transform the selection or resize it, if I go to the Select menu, you see there is a Transform Selection command, but there is no keyboard shortcut assigned to it. So I'm constantly trying to get to that command. If I right-click or Ctrl-click, you'll see I have direct access to that Free Transform or Transform Selection command. And on a very large monitor, if you're lucky enough to have a 30-inch cinema display, it's a lot less mousing to the contextual menu version of that command instead of going all the way up to the top of your screen and choosing it from the Select menu.
So that's probably enough to get you the gist of it. Right-click or Ctrl-click on any tool, you'll get a list of contextual commands relevant to that particular tool or context. Very, very, efficient use of your mouse there inside Photoshop.
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