Photoshop Elements Cheat Sheet

Basic Navigation

by Robin Nichols

How do I:

Find a photo?
Best way to find a photo is to remember where you put it in the first place and go look there! Housekeeping is very important in digital photography. Use the standard File>Open command and then point the standard ‘Open’ dialog window to hunt for the folder that contains the shot you are looking for. It helps to name your folders (and the files in those folders) as accurately as possible.

Look for a lost photo?
Photoshop Elements has a search engine in the Browser. It permits you to add a number of criteria to the search in order to come up with the result that you want; finding the file. For example you can search for specific file types, or names, or the dates they were created or modified. At the end of the day, good housekeeping pays dividends, but the search engine can certainly help some (File Browser>File>Search)

Change the name of my photo?
There are two ways to do this: either singly by, for example, using the File>Open command and then, BEFORE you click OK to open the chosen frame, right-click the image and choose Rename from the fly-out menu. Type the new name into the field provided. Or you can perform this task in batches through the File Browser (File>Browse Folders>Edit>Batch Rename).

How do I:

Find the photo’s Metadata?
Metadata is text information that’s stored with the photo. It holds the camera setting details – this might be useful for reference, teaching, education or any other reason. Metadata is read using the File Browser (File>Browse Folders). Metadata is displayed for an individual picture in the bottom left-hand corner of the browser window. Make sure that the Metadata tab is pressed in the Browser so the window is at the front (ie. so you can see it) and then click once on any picture displayed as a thumbnail over to the right-hand side of the browser window. The Metadata is then displayed in the metadata window.

Open an image for editing?
You can’t do anything with a photo while it’s being displayed just in the Browser. You have to double-click the image preview (thumbnail) in order to open it, in a high resolution form, in the window. If you choose File>Browse Folders, the Browser appears on screen again and the photo that you’ve just opened disappears behind it. This can be confusing at first. Use the Photo Bin (Window>PhotoBin) to see all the photos that you’ve already opened (at the base of the page). Click a different picture once, and it appears in full resolution format on the screen, ready for editing.

How do I:

Rotate a photo?
Not all pictures are the right way up – this is because unless your digital camera has an Auto Rotate feature (and its switched On) images have an annoying habit of laying down on their sides when shot and saved in the vertical orientation., To rotate back to normal you can do one of two things: either open the image, choose Image>Rotate>90 Left, or whatever, or you can right-click in the Browser and choose the rotate command from the fly-out menu

Flip a photo?
Flipping a photo is handy if you want to change its orientation - and you can do this when it’s on its own, or when it’s on a layer within a document. Choose Image>Rotate>Flip Vertically or Image>Rotate>Flip Horizontally.

Increase/decrease the screen size of a photo?
Often the picture on the screen is not at the right size. It’s too small to see the detail and therefore way too small for accurate painting or retouching. Easy way to make the shot bigger is to press Cmd/Ctrl and the plus (+) key (next to the backspace key). To go smaller, press Cmd/Ctrl + the minus key (-). You can also use the Zoom tool over on the tool bar but this is not as fast. Note also that if you press or choose the Zoom tool, three buttons appear at the top of the screen – these allow you to select specific view modes: View Pixels, Fit to Screen and Print Size. The best of the three is Fit to Screen and can also be accessed regardless of the tool that you might be using at the time by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + ).

How do I:

Check the photo’s printable dimensions?
Of course there comes a time when we want to make a print – but how big can I go? Either press the Print Size button at the top of the screen when you are in Zoom tool mode or choose Image>Resize>Image Size and read off the output dimensions from the dialog box that appears.

Save the photo in another file format?
Once we have the image open we will need to save it again before we shut down the computer. If you plan to do more work on the file, the best format to save the picture in is either the Tiff (.tif) or the Photoshop (.psd) file format. We do this to preserve the quality of the image. If it started life as a JPEG file and this is continuously opened and re- saved, the quality of the file ultimately degrades. Choose File>Save As and in the ‘Format’ drop-down field select the new file format and click ‘Save’.

How can I:

Crop/cut bits off a photo?
One of the most useful of all editing tools, the Crop tool is found on the tool bar and is used to cut bits off the picture. Click and drag anywhere in the image to draw a crop marquee. Don’t worry if this is not in exactly the right position. Once you let go, click any of the corner handles on the crop marquee and drag out, or in, some more to get the position just right. Once you are happy with the cropping, press Enter or the tick symbol at the top of the page to execute the crop. What you encircle with the crop marquee is saved, what’s on the outside is lost. When you do this, if it’s not right, press Undo (Cmd/Ctrl + Z) and try again.

Can I make the image go bigger for printing?
Yes you can. It’s a process called resampling and you do it by opening the Image>Resize>Image Size dialog box, checking the Resample check box first and then enter the new dimensions. Elements will then readout at the top of the box the new file size. Press OK to resample the image making sure that you have Bicubic Smoother chosen as the mode of choice. In general, when this is done although it seems like magic, you will notice the image becoming a bit softer. Add some sharpening to the final file to compensate…

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Article by Robin Nichols. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at