1. Did you know that you could load a bunch of actions at once using "Drag & Drop?" Just arrange your desktop so that you can see both the explorer window with the folder of actions you want to load, and the Photoshop Actions palette. Then select the group of actions, and drag them right over and drop them in the Actions palette. Bingo! This saves you having to load each action one at a time.
  2. Here's a trick I stumbled upon by accident. Do you ever have a very long action which takes a long time to run. Some of my actions can take 5 to 10 minutes, which is just way too long for me. If you are in Photoshop 7 or CS (I haven't tried version 6 yet), you can do the following to speed things up. As soon as you click the play button to play the action -- and while the action is running -- click F9. This closes your Actions palette, and for some unknown reason you'll notice the action actually plays faster. In fact, when I tested this, my actions ran at least 50% faster than if I still had the Action palette open. Go figure! I'm sorry I don't have the MAC equivalent keyboard shortcut for this little trick.
  1. The Lens Flare trick. If you want to add a Filter -> Render -> Lens Flare to your image, you have to apply it on a layer that isn't empty. Here's an easy way to apply it to your image on its own layer. First, double-click on the image layer and click ok to make sure it is NOT a background layer. Then widen your canvas to double the size of your image. Then Create a new layer above your image and fill it with black. Change the blend mode to "Screen". Now, when you apply your Lens Flare to the filled black layer, only the light flare will show through to the layer below. The benefit of having the canvas space is so that you can move the lens flare layer around the image to better place your lens flare. Try it out. You may be surprised how easy it really is.
  2. What's the Difference anyway? While we're discussing blend modes, here's a great use for the "Difference" blend mode. When shooting an object, like a bowl of fruit under studio conditions, keep your camera on manual, and take two shots: one with the fruit bowl, and another exact same image of the background with the fruit bowl removed. Make sure all other settings on your camera are the same, and your tripod is in the exact same position. Then when you bring both images into photoshop, place the image with the object on the bottom layer, and the background image on a layer above on the top. Switch the top layer to difference mode, and you have an instant mask of the object, which is ideal to use to extract the object from its background. Everything that shows up as black is the background, while everything else is the object. NOW THAT'S A TIP!
  3. Want to split your channels up into separate documents? On the Channels palette, click on the drop-down menu arrow (at the top right of the palette), and select "Split Channels". This automatically creates grayscale images out of all the channels within your image. Be careful though, because you can't get back to your original photo. So first go into Image -> Duplicate to make a copy, then split the channels. The beauty of this method really shines when you have a lot of alpha channels and want to quickly turn them into separate documents. With one click, all your channels are separated. PS: they are named in the titlebar of each document, so look there if you want to know which channel you're looking at.
  1. Do you have a large group of files open in Photoshop, but can't stand having to close each and every file? Well try this out. Hold your Shift key down while you click on File -> Close with your mouse. This will automatically close all open Photoshop documents.
  2. Want to quickly delete a preset, such as a layer style, pattern or gradient, without having to load, save or reset the presets? Hover your mouse over the preset you want to delete in any preset window (such as the gradient editor or the Edit -> Preset Manager). Your cursor changes to a pair of scissors and when you click on the preset, it will be deleted from your preset list. I always find this one a quick time-saver.

Here are some quick shortcuts that have become a staple in my Photoshop work. These are the shortcuts I end up using ALL the time:

For Selections: If you already have a selection placed in your image (like a circle with the marching ants dotted border), you can use the following shortcut keys to do some amazing things:

  • Hold your Shift key down to add to the selection
  • Hold your Alt/Option key down to subtract from the selection
  • Hold both Alt/Option+Shift together to intersect a selection
  • Hold your Ctrl/Command key down if you want to quickly convert to the move tool as opposed to the selection tool.
  • Hold all three keys down (Alt/Option, Shift, and Ctrl/Command) and you can duplicate a copy of the layer where the selection is located.
  • If you prefer using menu commands instead of keyboard shortcuts, select any selection tool (lasso, shape, magic wand, etc.) and look at the top left side of the options bar just below the main menu bar. You'll see a set of four little boxes that offer up the same commands.

Some Miscellaneous Shortcuts I tend to use more than most:

  • Ctrl/Command+I will Invert the color of the layer you are working on.
  • Shift+Ctrl/Command+I will Invert the currently active selection
  • Ctrl/Command+A will select the entire contents of the image
  • Ctrl/Command+D will deselect the currently active selection
  • Hover over the layer thumbnail and Ctrl/Command+Left-Mouse-Click to select the entire contents of the Layer you are working on.
  • Hover the mouse cursor on the dividing line between two layers and Alt/Option+ Left-Mouse-Click to group the two layers together. This one is amazingly handy!

The variety of Fill Shortcut Commands:

  • Shift+Backspace to open the Edit -> Fill dialog
  • Ctrl/Command+Backspace to fill the current layer with White
  • Alt/Option+Backspace to fill the current layer with Black
  • Ctrl/Command+Alt/Option+Backspace to fill the current layer with your history (like filling the layer with the History brush set to 100% Normal mode).
  • Shift+Ctrl/Command+Alt/Option+Backspace will fill the current layer with history, but this time it will preserve all transparency on the current layer.
  • Shift+Alt/Option+Backspace fills the current layer with your Foreground Color (or you can also use the Alt/Option+Delete instead; whichever is easier).
  • Shift+Ctrl/Command+Backspace fills the current layer with your Background Color (or you can also use the Ctrl/Command+Delete instead; whichever is easier).

And lastly, one which deserves a mention simply due to Sheer Power:

  • Want a quick exit if you ever get caught in a dialog by accident, or need to cancel out without applying any settings. Use this key: Esc (Escape). A lot of people still aren't aware of this powerful shortcut key.