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The Photoshop Phanatic: Photoshop Basics

Part 2: Cropping Images

In the last installment we discussed the topic of resolution. Next we will discuss how to crop images with the crop tool.

When acquiring an image, it is always best to capture a little more than needed and then work your way down.

This is an interactive demo so, feel free to open up your copy of Photoshop and follow along.

  1. Enlarge the document window so that you have plenty of space to work with. You can hit the “F” key on your keyboard once to maximize the image to your screen.

  2. Select the Crop tool in the toolbox (or you can hit the “C” key on your keyboard).

  3. In the options bar at the top of the screen (below the menus at the top of the screen), make sure there are no values in the Width, Height, and Resolution fields. These fields enable you to constrain the dimensions of the crop rectangle. If necessary you can press the “Clear” button to empty those fields.

  4. Click and Drag over the part of the photo that you want to keep. You will notice that everything outside the crop area is a darker black, this is the area that will be removed, the lighter area inside the crop tool is what will be kept.

  5. If necessary, adjust the cropping rectangle as follows:
    • To adjust the size of the cropping rectangle, drag the corner or side handle of the crop tool.
    • To nudge the cropping rectangle slightly, press an arrow key (If you hold down shift and an arrow key; this will move the cropping rectangle 10 pixels).
    • To move the cropping rectangle, place your cursor inside the cropping rectangle and drag it.
    • To rotate or straighten the image, move the pointer outside the cropping rectangle (the cursor will change into the curved double-arrow) and drag. The cropping rectangle rotates, but the image remains in the same spot until you crop it. You may need to move and resize the selection box.

      Note: If the cropping rectangle becomes hard to adjust because it sticks or seems to jump, make sure you deselect the Snap option in the View menu. The check mark indicates the option is on, you can select View > Snap to disable the option, also you can hit the Control key and the Shift key and lastly the “;” (semicolon) key all at the same time (for Macintosh the key combo would be Command, “Shift” and “;” (semicolon) all at the same time) to disable or enable the Snap feature.

  6. When you are satisfied with the size and location of the crop, press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to crop the image. If you rotated or straightened the crop, the photo will adjust to your selected angle.