Essential Tips for Cropping Images in Photoshop

Whether it’s done to make images fit a specific space, or to make them tell a certain story, cropping is one of the most fundamental tasks in any Photoshop workflow. Take advantage of these tips and techniques to get your cropping jobs done quickly and easily.

C is for crop

1. Press c to get the Crop tool and set the crop boundary to the entire image. Press shift+c to access other tools like the Perspective Crop tool and the Slice tools.

Exercise your cropping options

2. Use the menu in the Options bar to select cropping ratio, dimensions, or to create a new crop preset. 

Crop menu at your cursor

3. Even better: with the Crop tool selected, just right-click on the image to access the same menu of choices at your cursor.

O is for overlays

4. Click once on the image with the Crop tool to see one of the crop overlays.

You can cycle through the different types of overlays by pressing o.

Drag to define the crop box

5. To define a new crop area, drag any edge or corner, drag inside the image, or click and drag.  

Straighten while you crop

6. To straighten a crooked photo, click on Straighten in the Options bar and drag a line that you wish to make perfectly vertical or horizontal in the image.

Even better: Instead of clicking in the Options bar, hold Command/Ctrl to access the Straighten tool immediately. Way better: When dragging a line with the Straighten tool, you can get more precise results by dragging a long line than a short one.

Delete cropped pixels (or don’t)

7. You can use the controls in the Options bar to delete cropped pixels or leave them in the image outside the visible area. If you keep cropped pixels, the Background layer is converted to a regular linage layer when you crop.

Convert a selection to a crop box

8. If you make a selection before choosing the Crop tool, the crop area is fitted to the width and height of the selection.

Centered crops

9. Hold Option/Alt and drag a corner or edge to resize the crop area from the center.

Add canvas size while you crop

10. Drag a corner or edge beyond the crop area to add to the canvas size of the image.

Commit or canel

11. Double-click in the crop area or press Return or Enter to crop the image. Or press escape to cancel the crop. 

Have any other great tips for cropping in Photoshop? Add them in the comments!

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Posted on: January 12, 2014

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of InDesignSecrets.com, InDesign Magazine, and CreativePro.com. He is also the author of several lynda.com video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

3 Comments on Essential Tips for Cropping Images in Photoshop

  1. I have a question: one problem I have cropping photographs in PS is that there doesn’t seem to be a fine control of the movements of the edges–that is, I may want to crop in just a couple of pixels, but the line insists on jumping in 5 or 10 piels or more. Is there a way I can get control of the crop tool in order to move it pixel by pixel?

    Thanks

  2. Hi Steve-

    You can use the fields in the Options Bar to set exact values for the width and height of the crop, or you could try zooming in more, where dragging with the Crop tool moves in smaller increments (but then you might have a hard time seeing the whole boundary of the crop). Some folks also use guides and grids along with the Snap feature to get a precise crop.

  3. nice… tuto…

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