Shortcuts for Entering Numbers and Text

Palettes and dialog boxes that are full of number and text fields often look like forms to fill out, and forms are not much fun. Many people select a number or text field with the mouse, type into it, select the next field with the mouse, and type again. But the alternating movements of clicking with the mouse, then typing with both hands, then switching between mouse and keyboard again isn't very efficient. I describe ways to enter numbers or text without using the mouse, but you'll also see how you can enter numbers without using the keyboard! Read on and you'll be able to blast through dialog boxes and palettes much more quickly. The shortcuts I mention in this section are summarized in Table 3.4.

Table 3.4. Numeric and Text Entry Shortcuts

To do this...

Go to next field


Go to previous field


Increase or decrease a numeric value by one increment

Up Arrow or Down Arrow

Increase or decrease a numeric value with a scroll wheel

Spin a mouse's scroll wheel (if equipped)

Increase or decrease a numeric value by dragging

Horizontally drag a field label or Command+drag / Ctrl+drag a field number horizontally

Increase or decrease a numeric value by a large increment (usually 10x)

Press Shift key when pressing Up / Down Arrow keys, Command / Ctrl+dragging, or a scroll wheel

Apply changes (in a dialog box, same as clicking OK)

Return or Enter

Apply changes in a palette while keeping field selected

Shift+Return / Shift+Enter

Don't apply changes (in a dialog box, same as clicking Cancel)


Revert a dialog box to its default values without closing itl

Option / Alt+click the Cancel button

In this section, when I say "palette," I also mean the options bar at the top of the screen, because it's got number and text fields too.

Wandering Through the Fields

You don't need to precisely click to every text and number field in a dialog box or palette. Just press Tab to move forward through the fields until you select the field you want to edit. (If you're editing text or numbers in a palette, click in the first field you want to edit.) Press Shift+Tab to move backward. This is one of those shortcuts that usually works in programs other than Photoshop, too.

Adjusting Values with the Keyboard

You can, of course, simply type numbers or text into a field. But if you need to adjust a value just a little bit, over and over, it becomes tedious to type numbers constantlyyou're not an accountant! Fortunately, Photoshop provides ways to make precise adjustments to values you've already entered.

The following techniques assume you've selected a value in a number or text field in a palette or dialog box. Here we go:

  • You don't have to drag to highlight a value in a number or text field. Click once on the field label to select the entire value and then you can start typing right away.

  • To increase or decrease a value, press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow keys.

  • To change values in bigger increments, add Shift to the shortcuts above; in most cases Shift multiplies the usual adjustment by 10. For example, pressing Up Arrow increases font size 1 point, and Shift+Up Arrow increases it 10 points.

  • In a palette, if you want to apply the value while leaving the field selected so that you can immediately type another value, press Shift+Return/Shift+Enter. What's the big deal with this one? If you simply press Return or Enter, the highlight goes away, and you have to select the value again before entering a new one.

  • To apply a change, press Return or Enter. In a dialog box, Return or Enter apply all changes made in the dialog boxit's a shortcut for the OK button.

  • To exit a field without applying what you entered, press Esc. In a dialog box, Esc discards all changes made in the dialog boxit's a shortcut for the Cancel button. By the way, pressing Esc in a palette may not revert the value if you were adjusting it with the arrow keys, because using the arrow keys immediately applies your adjustment.

When you highlight a font name (for example, in the Character palette or options bar for the horizontal type tool), the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys choose the previous or next font, respectively. That's a quick way to try different fonts by stepping through the list. You can also type the first few letters of a font; Photoshop automatically selects the first matching font name.

In most cases there isn't a difference between the Enter key above the Shift key (on Macintosh computers, this is the Return key) and the Enter key on the numeric keypad. But if you're editing text on a type layer, there is a difference. Pressing the Enter key above the Shift key (Return) types a paragraph break so you can enter multiple paragraphs. Pressing the Enter key on the numeric keypad applies the changes and exits text-editing mode. Another way to stop editing a type layer is to press Command+Return or Shift+Enter.

Scrubbing to Adjust Values

Now, there are plenty of people out there who just don't like using the keyboard. If you're one of them, there are fast ways to fine-tune values by spinning a rotary control or dragging. This is what the audio and video realm calls scrubbing, so I'll use that term here for convenience.

If you have a scroll wheel mouse, click in a number or text field and spin your scroll wheel up or down to change the value.

You can also scrub numbers by dragging a field label horizontally, or by Command/Ctrl+dragging a number horizontally (Figure 3.9). Either method turns the field into an on-demand slider control. This is great if you don't have a scroll wheel or other rotary input device. It also lets you use the entire width of your monitor as a slider, which means you can adjust a value more precisely than you can by using the visible slider.

Figure 3.9. Find the right value interactively, by scrubbing a field label (Command/Ctrl+dragging a value).

The shortcuts in Table 3.4 also work in Adobe Camera Raw 3.4, except for the ability to adjust values using a scroll wheel.

If you know the Windows XP shortcuts for navigating a dialog box or palette, you can use those in Photoshop, too. For example, if a pop-up menu is selected, press the spacebar to open it. Mac OS X has similar shortcuts but Photoshop dialog boxes aren't compatible with them.

Putting It All Together

If you haven't really worked with shortcuts before, you might think this section is just a long list of details to try and remember … what a chore! But that would be the wrong way to look at it. The real value of shortcuts comes after you've gotten familiar with which ones are important to the tasks you do the most. Here's an example that can help you pick and choose shortcuts to create just the right way to make precise adjustments in a particular situation.

Suppose you're trying to make fine adjustments in the Levels dialog box. The obvious way to do it is to drag the sliders. What can be tedious about that is every time you want to change a value, you have to move your mouse to the slider's new location to drag it. When repeated many times over the course of a day, your fingers can tire of the repetitive repositioning (Figure 3.10).

Figure 3.10. Using the Levels dialog box usually involves moving the mouse back and forth among many different sliders and fields.

Instead, take advantage of the scrubbing shortcut. With a field selected, drag horizontally starting from the field label, in this case Input Levels, and let go. When you want to refine that value, just start dragging from the field label again (Figure 3.11).

Figure 3.11. Because you can scrub from any part of the field label, a field label is often a much bigger and easier target to drag instead of aiming for a tiny slider.

When it's time to adjust the next field, once again there is no need to reposition the mouse very farjust leave it where it is over the field label. Take advantage of the Tab key this time and press it to go to the next field, and with the mouse still over the field label, start dragging (Figure 3.12). You can keep progressing through the dialog box this way, using Tab and Shift+Tab to change fields as needed.

Figure 3.12. To scrub another field controlled by the same label, you can leave the mouse where it is and simply press Tab to change fields.

In this way, you combine the Tab key and scrubbing to change values more efficiently than you would if you used the visible sliders. If you want, you can use the Up and Down arrow keys instead of scrubbing, depending on your working style.

It's often hard to see the difference between small changes, like increasing a tone or color value by one percent. I like to use Shift+Up Arrow or Shift+Down Arrow to change a value by larger increments so that changes are easier to observe. For example, instead of going from 10% to 11%, I'll go from 10% to 20%. If 10% is too little and 20% is too much, sometimes I'll just enter 15% and move on, instead of trying to observe 1% adjustments all day long. While 5% adjustments may be too coarse for color-critical work, they're often OK when applying filters.

If you use a rotary dial controller like the Logitech NuLOOQ or Griffin PowerMate, its driver software may allow it to work like a scroll wheel, so you may be able to use it for shortcuts that use a scroll wheel.

Working Smart in Adobe Photoshop CS2
Working Smart in Adobe Photoshop CS2
ISBN: 0321335392
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 161
Authors: Conrad Chavez © 2008-2017.
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