There are several hundred keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. The more keyboard shortcuts you know the faster your workflow. Here are my top five to help you reduce your mousing around.

The Move tool: Shift + V

The most versatile tool in Photoshop is the Move tool. When it is active, layer opacity can be adjusted using the numbers. Tap a keyboard number and the opacity changes to 10 times its amount — 1 is 10% opacity, 5 is 50%, 0 is 100%. Want something in between? Tap the numbers quickly — 7 followed immediately by 8 is 78% opacity.

The Move tool (Shift + V) also allows blending modes to be chosen from the keyboard.

Power tip: If you don’t want to hold down the shift key to change tools, there’s a preference setting for that. Open Preferences (macOS: Photoshop > Preferences, Win: Help > Preferences) choose Tool and uncheck Use Shift Key for Tool Switch. Now any tool can be selected by hitting its letter key. So the Move tool keyboard shortcut is simply V.

5 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts you want to know

New layer with naming window: Command (Win: Ctrl) + Shift + N

When I’m working in Photoshop, I often want a new layer. Sure, I can mouse over to the bottom of the Layers panel to get a numbered new layer or go to the menu bar and choose Layer > New > Layer which opens the dialog. It’s so much easier to hit the keyboard shortcut to make the new layer.

Best of all, like choosing a new layer from the menu bar, the window opens up with the space to name the layer highlighted and ready to get named. This makes the layer stack easy to understand when it gets opened later.

5 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts you want to know
The New Layer dialog offers lots of possibilities

There are a few extras in this window. Beyond renaming (a really good habit to develop), you can clip it to the layer below it. This is useful for special effects. Here you can color a layer to make it stand out as part of similar layers. The Mode drop-down is for choosing the blending mode. If a neutral color works with a blending mode, checking the box fills the layer with that neutral color. The darken modes fill it with white, the lighten modes fill it with black and the overlay modes fill it with 50% gray.

Opacity sets the see-through-ish-ness of the layer. This saves so many mouse moves!

If you want to go directly to a new layer and bypass the dialog, add the Option (Win: Alt) key.

Copy active layer or selection to a new layer: Command (Win: Ctrl) + J

All of the visible layers are copied to a brand new layer. It’s ready for more editing. All of the earlier work is preserved.

Duplicating a layer in the layer stack is easy. Highlight the layer, hold down the Option (Win: Alt) key and drag it up to make a copy. That won’t work if the layer is a background layer. However, this shortcut does work on background layers.

Press Command (Win: Ctrl) + J. Right-clicking a layer in the Layer panel and choosing Duplicate Layer always works too. Of course, there’s more to this keyboard shortcut.

Copy visible layers to a new one: Command (Win: Ctrl) + Option (Win: Alt) + Shift + E

This is the keyboard shortcut to use instead of flattening a set of layers you think you are completely happy with. You’ll change your mind. I promise.

Copying all the layers below to a new one keeps all of them intact for future changes that you will eventually decide to make. You’ll be glad you learned this one. You can do this from the Layers menu by choosing Merge Visible and adding the Option (Win: Alt) key. Without Option (Win: Alt) the layers are flattened. Not good.

In the Layers panel choose the hamburger menu and choose Merge Visible adding the Option (Win: Alt) key. Always remember to add the Option (Win: Alt) key.

5 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts you want to know
Choose Merge Visible from the Layer panel hamburger menu. Hold down the Option (WIN: Alt) key before letting go!

When a selection is on the active layer, Command (Win: Ctrl) + J jumps it to a new layer. Adding the Shift key cuts the selection from the active layer. Bonus — Command (Win: Ctrl) + Option (Win: Alt) + J opens the new layer dialog so it can be renamed without double-clicking the name in the Layer panel.

Save as: Command (Win: Ctrl) + Shift + S

This shortcut opens the Save … window. There is a lot going on in it too. When a photo has multiple layers, there are only four options to save it: Photoshop (.psd), Large Document Format (.psb), Photoshop PDF (.pdf) or TIFF (.tif.)

The Save as … dialog is for images containing layers.

Want to save the file as a JPEG or other non-layer format? Click Save a Copy …

5 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts you want to know
Save a copy … duplicates the image, flattens it then offers all of Photoshop’s formats.

Photoshop makes a copy of the photo, flattens it and makes all of the formats available for the save.

These five keyboard shortcuts are super timesavers and bring you a lot of versatility at the same time!