Knowing how to utilize the modifier keys in Photoshop can save you time (and unnecessary mouse-scolling) as you work on your latest masterpiece.

Here’s 10 ways to harness some of the power in the mighty ALT key! In the interest of clarity I should say this is the “Option” key on a Mac despite the fact that it’s been labeled ‘Alt’ on Mac keyboards for several years now… no, I don’t understand either!

Alt-Click the ‘New Layer’ icon in the Layer panel to call up the layer options on-the-fly.

Alt click on new layer

Hold down Alt to swap between the Lasso and Polygonal Lasso tool whilst drawing (swaps to the alternate tool to the one currently active).

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Hold down Alt to draw from the centre out when using the Marquee or Shape tools. For the Shape tools begin drawing first then hold the Alt key.

Alt-click to split a Blend If slider – this creates a transition between the brightness values allowing for smooth blending between layers.

split blend if slider in photoshop

Hold down Alt to swap to ‘Subtract from Selection’ whilst editing your selections.

shortcut to subtract from selection in photoshop

Alt-drag to copy layers on-the-fly when working with the Move tool.

shortcut to copy layers in photoshop

Hold down Alt to swap to ‘Zoom Out’ when working with the Zoom tool.

Alt-click on a Layer Mask thumbnail to view the mask in isolation – handy for tidying up stray content.

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Hold down Alt to swap to the Eye Dropper when working with the Brush tools – great for sampling colours on-the-fly as you paint.

Alt-click the ‘Auto’ button to access the full Auto Correction options when working with Levels or Curves Adjustment Layers.

access advanced auto correct options in photoshop

When you first start to learn Photoshop, remembering all the shortcut keys isn’t the highest priority. Lets be honest you have enough to do just understanding layers, selections masks and lots more.  As you progress though, shortcuts can be a great way of speeding up your workflow and become more efficient.

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