Top 10 Killer Photoshop Combo Moves


Is time kickin’ your ass? Well, learn to defend yourself! Master these killer Photoshop keyboard combos and you’ll find yourself with more time for the important things (e.g. Facebook trivia questions). These combos assume you’re using Photoshop CS3 on Windows platform with default keyboard shortcuts.

( ) = Repeat as desired
{ } = Manual Input Required

Top 10 Killer Photoshop Combos
Image source1

10. Cloak of Invisibility

Remove everything from the screen except for your file.

  • F, F, F | Cycle through Screen Modes
  • Tab | Remove Tools and Palettes
  • Ctrl+H | Hide Extras (Grid, Guides, Slices, etc.)
  • Ctrl+R | Hide Rulers

9. Quick Brush Jab

Quickly and easily customize a brush. This combo is a staple for digital painting.

  • B | Brush Tool
  • Right-Click and Select or F5 and Select | Open condensed or full Brush Palette
  • or . or , or Shift+. or Shift+, | Cycle through brushes or jump to first or last brush
  • [ or ]: | Shrink or enlarge brush radius
  • Shift+[ or Shift+] | Decrease or increase brush hardness
  • {Numeric Input} | Change brush opacity (e.g. ‘5’ = 50%, ’55’ = 55%)

8. Quick Brush Jab Path Stroke

Stroke a path with a customized brush.

  • {Draw Path} | Use any tool to draw a path
  • B | Select Brush Tool
  • Quick Brush Jab | Use the Quick Brush Jab Combo to customize brush
  • Enter | Stroke the path with your customized brush

7. Gaussian Attack

Apply a filter, fade it and apply again. Good combo for fine-tweaking filters.

  • {Apply a Filter} | Manually choose and apply a filter (warning: using the Lens Flare filter may result in a swift kick to the mouse balls)
  • Ctrl+Shift+F | Fade the filter
  • (Ctrl+F or Ctrl+Shift+F) | Reapply filter with or without dialog box

6. Shadow Maker

Create a basic shadow based on a chosen layer.

  • {Select Layer} | Select the layer the shadow will be created after. The transparency of this layer needs to resemble the desired shape of the shadow.
  • Ctrl+J | Layer via Copy
  • Ctrl+[ | Move layer down
  • D | Reset color defaults
  • Alt+Shift+Backspace | Fill with black and preserve transparency
  • Ctrl+T | Free transform
  • {Transform} | Modify to your liking
  • Enter | Commit

5. Layer Catcher

Select, group and mask layers. Often easier than using the layers palette.

  • V | Selection Tool
  • Ctrl+Click or Ctrl+Shift+Click or Ctrl+Shift+Right-Click | Select your layers
  • Ctrl+G | Group Layers

4. OCD Layer Sort

Rearrange your layers quickly and easily. Great cure for you neuroticism.

  • F7 | Show Layer Palette
  • Alt+[ or Alt+] or Alt+, or Alt+. | Select a layer
  • Shift+Alt+[ or Shift+Alt+] or Shift+Alt+, or Shift+Alt+. | Select more layers
  • Ctrl+[ or Ctrl+] or Shift+Ctrl+[ or Shift+Control+] | Move layers down or up or send to bottom or bring to top

3. Ultimate Flattener

Merge All Layers (even those hidden). Quick way to flatten a file.

  • Alt+. | Select Top Layer
  • Shift+Alt+, | Select all layers between currently selected and bottom layer
  • Ctrl+E | Merge the selected layers

2. Infinite Dupe

Duplicate and evenly distribute or transform items. Nice way to distribute something like nav buttons.

  • Ctrl+T | Transform
  • {Transform/Move} | Manually Move or Transform
  • Enter | Commit Transform
  • (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T) | Duplicate and transform relative to the newest item

1. Finishing Move – The Web Extractor

Extract a selection and save it for the web. Extremely useful when pulling individual elements from a design, such as buttons or rules.

  • {Create Selection} | Select the area you want to extract
  • Ctrl+Shift+C | Copy Merged to clipboard
  • Ctrl+N | Create New Image based on selection size
  • Enter | Confirm New Image
  • Ctrl+V | Paste from clipboard
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S | Save for the Web

Editor’s note

This post is one of the finalists of our guest author contest2. Over three weeks selected top-10-lists and discussion articles will be published. To rate the articles we’ll analyze their popularity, users activity, quality of backlinks, traffic and further data.


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Tom Giannattasio happily makes things at nclud. He works as an Editor for Smashing Magazine and teaches at Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. He loves to experiment and share his work on his personal site: attasi.

  1. 1

    Oh my god, the final one is going to save me so much time!

    @Hamish M — NO WAY! You’re my new hero. Until now, I’ve been hitting V -> Ctrl-Left Click to select layers, being able to do it without switching tools is going to be fantastic!

  2. 52

    this list is better than bacon!

  3. 103

    good list. do it for fireworks and illustrator too :)

  4. 154

    The real magic comes in using actions to eliminate keystrokes.

    I’ve got #1 cued to F2.

    One stroke.

  5. 205

    Hey everyone.

    I put together a pdf cheat sheet for anyone interested. It can be downloaded from my site at:

    Thanks to all for viewing/voting/commenting!

  6. 256

    The title made me laugh! Witty ;).

    It’s interesting seeing photoshop combinations presented in a combo to yield a net result, cool. Although the article could probably be assuaged even more with some screenshots that give an overview of the result.

  7. 307

    up up down down left right left right b a select start

  8. 358

    Way to go really useful list

  9. 409

    its a basic, not bad

  10. 460

    Userful but very old!
    This all are old shortcuts………!
    Offcourse a little bit additions to CS3, more like layer shifting/selecting (other than 7.0)

    Here are some of the tricks for photoshop (this may know for few)

    To change the background color
    1. Selct “Paint Bucket” Tool (Press G)
    2. Choose your color (Foreground)
    3. Shift click on the background

    Note: This option will not work in fullscreen mode.

  11. 511

    Hold down Shift + Alt and then press “+” to cycle through blending modes on the selected layer.

    Very helpful.

  12. 562

    niiiice…but print version would be even better :)

  13. 613

    This makes everything so much easier. You should write a book.

  14. 664

    Excellent article! Love this site.

    The extractor tip is useful for me. I usually do an Alt+i, D to duplicate the image, then Alt+L, F to flatten the image, and then crop from there. Your tip is much more intuitive and logical. Thanks so much!

  15. 715

    @Andrew Wilkinson
    Glad to help. Spread the word! :)

  16. 766

    Daniel van Ginkel

    August 14, 2008 9:40 am

    I think it’s good but not excelent cause you didn’t include any mac shortcuts. It could have been excellent if you did. Great work on it though.

  17. 817

    this is a great compilation of keyboard shortcuts and it’s written in a very unique way. good job.

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  19. 919

    merge all visible layers:
    PC: shift+ctrl+E
    MAC: shift+apple+E

  20. 970

    old stuff but still good

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  22. 1072

    Great article, but where are the OS X shortcuts?

  23. 1123

    Hamish M, I think it’s more simple to use Ctrl + left click. It does the same thing:)

  24. 1174

    Would advise everyone to visit this source…great shortcuts

  25. 1225

    no.1 I can do while sleeping :D
    good collection that, thank you…

  26. 1276

    3. could be

    Ctrl Alt Shift N => new Layer without dial box
    Ctrl Shift E => Merge All into current Layer

    so you merge all without loosing all the layers…

  27. 1327

    CTRL+S it’s our best friend =))

    This list is excelent :D

  28. 1378

    Yeah, no Mac equivs is lazy. I’ve got #3 in an action via Shift +F1.

  29. 1429

    Looks like I was late to the party. Great tutorials…now I’ve got to use them often enough that they stick!

  30. 1480

    I don’t know if there’s a shortcut key, but the way I do it is to make the Photoshop window smaller, so you can see the browser, and whatever color you wanted to select, then, after selecting the Eye Dropper tool, click and hold the mouse button down, then drag it out into the browser window.

    You’ll see the color change in the palette. When you have the color you want, just let go of the mouse button.

  31. 1531


  32. 1582

    I am saying now “Its killer tips” many thanks

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  34. 1684

    i need more infomation. not this kind of shit. this is not helping me……!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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  36. 1786

    nothing fresh has not heard, but don’t care thank you for labour

  37. 1837

    I never get into the position where “time’s kickin’ my ass”. If you get that pressed, well, something’s wrong somewhere.

  38. 1888

    와우 정말 멋진데요~!

  39. 1939

    Many Thanks for this. Probably one of my favorite article.

  40. 1990

    lol you have a MacBook Pro on the pic but all of those commands are for Windows xD

  41. 2041

    excellent tips, Many many thanx for this

  42. 2092

    Nice. Since I’m on PS all day almost every day, I use most of these and they have saved my life. I see some I didn’t know that I will be using, especially Layers.

    Also, if you’re doing mad crazy pen paths (I do color corrections for luxury retail products that have lots of zippers, linings and general funky details that require tons of selections) , my top time-savers are using the space bar to move rapidly around the image, option to change my bezier handle direction simultaneously while drawing path, and cmd to move a point of path around if I miss my mark. Those and a really huge monitor and Wacom also help!

  43. 2143

    Co co-co-co-co-co-co-combo breaker!!! lmao thanks for such usseful info!!!

  44. 2194

    To be honest… it’s mostly stuff I learned in school! what I need is the next level… anyone can find out any of these tricks (if you can call them that) by going to the help button in photoshop! what would be great is to learn more about combining effects and new ways of doing things to create stunning visuals… new ideals…

  45. 2245

    Brilliant post as usual.

    Check the daily posts on photoshop cs4 keyboard shortcuts @

  46. 2296

    I didn’t really read the article; because I stopped after the first sentence. Why are you cussing in the FIRST sentence? Make an article on how that disgusts viewers.

    But all of the other articles on this site are pretty good. :)

  47. 2347

    Gracious !

  48. 2398

    One of most funny articles i’ve ever read. Especially i feel funny when i read combo move names.

  49. 2449

    I found it very interesting and enjoyed it while trying! Thank you very much.

  50. 2500

    8. Quick Brush Jab Path Stroke – this is very useful:)
    I don’t know, then I can push Enter and path will be stroke.
    Before that I click right and choose stroke path.

    # Liam You to make flatten Visible Layer only need Shift+Ctr+E


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