Five amazing Photoshop tricks you (probably) didn’t know existed

May 9, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Five amazing Photoshop tricks you (probably) didn’t know existed

May 9, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I’ve been using Photoshop since version 3.0, so right around 24 years now. So you could say I’ve had a play with most of it at some point over the years. But Photoshop is such a large application. It’s constantly growing an evolving, so there always seems to be something new to discover. New ways to do different tasks to make our lives a little more efficient.

In this video from Colin Smith at photoshopCAFE, we see five pretty cool and actually useful “hidden” Photoshop tools. I’m not too big to admit that I didn’t know about a couple of these. As well as the five main tips, there are a few other not-so-secret ones mentioned in this video, too.

YouTube video

1. Fade Filter

The “Fade” option from the edit menu only appears right after you’ve applied a filter to a layer. If you do anything else after applying the filter, and the option disappears. But fading the layer allows you to get some extra adjustment that otherwise might be tricky to achieve. You can dial back the strength of the effect and even change its blending mode.

Personally, I think I’d go with duplicating the layer, converting it to a smart object and using smart filters. But if you haven’t switched over to a non-destructive workflow yet, it’s a good tip.

2. Fine Tune Scrubby Sliders

Most of us know that in Photoshop, Lightroom and other applications, we don’t actually need to click sliders. We can click on the number or the label of the slider and just click and drag left & right. But did you know you can get finer tune control than this?

If you hold down shift while dragging, it’ll move the number up and down at ten times the regular speed. If you hold down alt while dragging, it changes at 1/10th of the regular rate. This works in some other Adobe applications, too, like Premiere Pro.

3. Search Adobe Stock’s entire library

Being able to browse Adobe Stock was added in November 2016, but many still don’t know how it can help them. The Adobe Stock Panel allows you to browse Adobe’s entire stock library from within the application itself. No longer do you need to log into a browser, download, sort and then import images into Photoshop. You just search for what you need, you can get free watermarked preview files to create with, and then just tell it to purchase all the images you actually use.

4. The History Brush

I’ve known this has existed for a while, but it’s not something I’ve ever really feel a need to use. I typically work with Smart Object layers, which will let me step back in time to change things after the fact. So I just mask things to get back what was there before. If you’re working with merged or flattened images, though, and want to go back in time, it’s a very handy little tool.

5. Getting the old Refine Edge tool back

You might’ve known about this one already if you’ve followed posts here on DIYP for a while. We told you about this back in January. Essentially, the new selection refinement tools in Photoshop are, largely, hated. Many believe that the older Refine Edge tool was the absolute best way to… Well, to refine edges. It’s not obvious how to access this in Photoshop, but it can be done.

From the Select menu, simply hold shift when you click Select and Mask. Up pops the old refine edge tool and all is well with the world once again.

So, there you have it. 5 hidden tips and tricks. But wait, there’s more!

Bonus Tip – Super Colour Picker

Sometimes, you quickly want to just bring up a colour picker without having to click a whole bunch of things. On a Mac, hold Command+Option+Shift and click up comes the Super Colour Picker. On the PC, simply hold Alt+Shift and right click for it to come up.

That last one is one I didn’t know about and one I’ll probably start using it often in the future.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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