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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.
So of all the keyboard shortcuts that are available in Photoshop, there is one that stands out above all the others. I call it "the make better key" and it's basically the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows. It just makes Photoshop better. Add it to your favorite keyboard shortcut or you favorite menu command and just see how it enhances that existing shortcut. Let me give you a few examples. For instance, let's go ahead and duplicate this layer. The Duplicate command there is Command+J or Ctrl+J on Windows and you see when I go ahead and do that, it duplicates this Background layer and just gives it a generic name, Layer 1.
Now, generic names are not that helpful, especially later on in a workflow or if are handing off your files to someone else. So I'm going ahead and undo that. Command+Z, Ctrl+Z. This time I'm going to add the Option key or the Alt key to that existing keyboard shortcut. So instead of Command+J, I'm going to do Command+Option+J or Ctrl+Alt+J in Windows and you see now it gives me an opportunity to name my layer as I duplicate it. So let's say I was going to sharpen this and I call this layer the Sharpen layer and then when I hit Return, you can see I have a layer now that has better naming and more context to help me out later on.
So that's one example. Let me give you another one. So if I go to the Duplicate command, under the Image menu, Photoshop says, are you sure you want to duplicate that? And it brings up this dialog box and kind of intercepts you. I find that annoying because, yes, I'd asked it to duplicate, so I'm going to hit Cancel. This time if I hold down the Option key and choose Duplicate, or the Alt key in Windows, you'll see it just does it. So I also affectionately call it "the shut-up key." So it's either the make-better key or the just-shut-up-and-do-it key. Let's see one or two more examples of this. So if I open up the Curves command, so that shortcut is Command+M or Ctrl+M on Windows, the Curves dialog comes up with the default settings. You start out with the same setting every single time.
I'll go ahead and hit OK and undo that. If I were to bring up the Curves command again, so Command+M, it reopens with the default settings again. So I'm going to hit Cancel. Add Option or Alt to that existing keyboard shortcut. So this time, Command+Option+M. It reopens that Curves dialog with the last settings you used. So that makes it pretty handy there. Speaking of being in a dialog, in any dialog, you will see that there is usually a Cancel button and if you've done more than one thing in a particular dialog box, you can undo the last thing you did but you only have one level of undo inside any given dialog box.
So what a lot of people do is they'll hit Cancel if they've done a bunch of stuff and then they reopen the dialog. You don't need to do that. If you hold down the Option key, remember it makes Photoshop better, hold down Option, every dialog where there is a Cancel button, the Cancel button turns into a Reset button when you hold down Option or Alt. So go ahead and reset that and there you go. So there is a couple of examples of how the Option or Alt key just makes Photoshop better. I really encourage you to add it to your existing keyboard shortcuts that you've memorized and when in doubt, just hold it down and see what it does.
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