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How to Customise Photoshop's Keyboard Shortcuts

Adobe Photoshop has a complete set of keyboard commands assigned by default, but occasionally you will find a feature you may use often doesn't have its own keyboard shortcut. This is mainly because most of the standard keyboard combinations have already been assigned to Photoshop functions, and there aren't enough to go around. Fortunately, though, Adobe has provided the ability to assign and re-assign keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. In this tutorial, we'll show you how it's done.

Step 1 - Open the Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus dialog

To start, choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts..., type Command-Option-Shift-K (Mac) or Crtl-Alt-Shift-K (Win), or choose Window > Workspace > Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus... to open the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.

Step 2 - Locate and Choose the Item for Keyboard Shortcut Assignment

The point of creating custom keyboard shortcuts is either to change an existing one or to assign a keyboard command to a function that doesn't have one. In my case, I use the Crop command frequently to prepare blog graphics, but Crop doesn't have its own keyboard command, so that's the one I want to use. Crop is in the Image menu, so let's choose Application Menus from the "Shortcuts For:" menu in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog, then open the Image sub-menu in the Application Menu Command column, and scroll down to locate Crop.

(Every single Image menu item is listed here, so you'll have to scroll down quite a bit).

Click on the word Crop, and you'll see an empty box appear in the Shortcut column in the dialog:

Step 3 - Assign the Shortcut

Click in the empty text box, and hold down the various modifier, letter, number, and function keys you want to use. I'm going to start with Option-Shift-Command-C, which seems like it might be a relatively easy-to-remember command for Crop. However, when I do, I get an alert telling me that this combination is already in use, and if I want to use it, that combination won't be used for its original assignment:

So, at this point you have a choice - either try a different combination, or accept the current one and disable its previous assignment. It's up to you, really - if the feature already assigned is one you don't use much, feel free to change it. If, on the other hand, you don't like the idea of disabling default commands, keep trying different combinations until you find one that hasn't been assigned - when you do, you won't see the alert:

Step 4 - Save the Assignment

To save the new keyboard shortcut assignment, just click OK. If you've assigned a new keyboard shortcut to a menu item, you'll see that new assignment in the menu:

This new assignment will stay assigned even if you quit and relaunch Photoshop, but it won't survive resetting Photoshop's preferences, for example. To permanently save the assignment, click the Save button next to the Set menu:

You'll be asked to save a new set of keyboard commands in Photoshop's keyboard settings folder. You can use the default name of "Photoshop Defaults (modified)", but it makes more sense to give it your own name.

Once you do, those commands will be in effect until you choose the original default commands, or a different set, from the Set menu. And, if you've created a lot of custom commands and want to use them on a different system, just copy the set from Photoshop's keyboard settings folder and move it into the new system's keyboard settings folder to make them available in the new system.

And that's it!

We'd love to hear what your favorite Photoshop shortcuts are. Drop a comment below to share them!

Need more Photoshop tips, tricks and techniques? Check out these Photoshop tutorials.

Richard Lainhart

Richard Lainhart | Articles by this author

Richard Lainhart is an award-winning composer, filmmaker, and author. His compositions have been performed in the US, Europe Asia, and Australia, and recordings of his music have appeared on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, XI Records, Airglow Music, Tobira Records, Infrequency, VICMOD, and ExOvo labels. His animations and short films have been shown in festivals in the US, Europe, and Asia, and online at ResFest, The New Venue, The Bitscreen, and Streaming Cinema 2.0. He has authored over a dozen technical manuals for music and video hardware and software, served as Contributing Editor for Interactivity and 3D Design Magazines, and contributed to books on digital media production published by IDG, Peachpit Press, McGraw Hill, and Miller Freeman Books. Previously an Adobe Certified Expert in After Effects and Premiere, a demo artist for Adobe Systems, and co-founder of the official New York City After Effects User Group, he was, from 2000-2009, Technical Director for Total Training Productions, an innovative digital media training company based in New York and California.


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