Photoshop Center Alignment Tricks

Here’s a few Alignment Tricks to help you Center a layer in your document or even within a selected area of your document.

For those who may not be aware of the ‘Alignment Options Bar’, you’ll find in on the ‘Option’s Bar’ whenever the ‘Move Tool (V)’ is selected on your Toolbar. (As I have captured below)

The only other occasion it is visible is in conjunction with Paths and Vector shapes via the ‘Path Selection Tool (A)’.


Method 1: SNAP Into Alignment

Note the only thing in your ‘Layer’s Palette’ is the default ‘Background Layer’ and enable Snap from the View menu.

Now, from the ‘Vertical (left) Ruler Bar’ click and SLOWLY drag a ‘Guide’ towards the center of this document. You should feel a slight SNAP as you get close to the center.

Next, click on the ‘Horizontal (top) Ruler Bar’ and SLOWLY drag a ‘Guide’ towards the center until, again, you feel a slight Snap, then let go.


So now, any object on your canvas should SNAP to the center of those converging guides.


Method 2: Linked Align

Here’s another simple technique. You have an object layer in your document and you’d like to center it, without resorting to the above snap to guides technique. Simply select the default ‘Background Layer’ and link the layer(s) you need to justify center. (As I have captured below, a single vector shape with the default Background)

Then with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the Alignment Options area and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered. (Don’t forget to unlink it for further use)

Method 3: Align by Selection

Yet, another option without the use of guides nor the link trick is as follows. Select the layer you want to center in the ‘Layers Palette’.

Then ‘Ctrl/Command+A’ to select your whole document. (Alternatively, ‘Select>All’ menu option)
The selection is indicated by the Marque Lines around the whole document below.

Then as before, with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the ‘Alignment Options’ area and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered.

Method 3b: Align to Arbitrary Selection

The same applies to arbitrary selections, combining the Snap/Guides use with the Alignment Options. Below I have an object in one area, the document divided into four sections, and I’d like to center the object layer inside the indicated Selection.

Select the object layer in your ‘Layers Palette’, as we did before. Then, with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the ‘Alignment Options Bar’ and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered.

As below , certainly makes centering accurate and hassle free.


One Click Transparency Trick

Here’s a neat trick to apply a single click transparency trick straight inside the ‘Save For the Web’ control panel.

This works best if its’s an indexed image, if your working to create a transparency to a flattened file, a pasted or imported file.

Below is simple image with just a few colors on a background of white.

Single Click Transparency Trick

Next, open the ‘File/Save for Web’ control panel. (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S / Mac: Option + Shift + Command + S)

Preview e  a full screen shot.

Of primary importance is the ‘Optimized File Format’ (.Gif), the ‘Color Reduction Algorithm’ (Selective) and a view of the individual colors of you image within the ‘Color Table’.

Single Click Transparency Trick

For this basic image, the bottom of the ‘Color Table’ indicates there are 44 colors (outlined in blue).
The first and last colors correspond to Black and White (outlined in green) with the remaining colors of the image in between.

Single Click Transparency Trick

Next, simply select the last color block in the ‘Color Table’, and click the ‘Maps Selected Colors to Transparent’ button (outlined in blue) on the bottom.

Single Click Transparency Trick

As indicated in the below screen shot link, the white has been made transparent in the image, in a single click.
Click ‘Save’ to save your transparent image.

Preview example screen shot.

Other Tips within the Save For Web

For the above sample, the same would apply if you wanted to ‘map’ any color to transparency, other than just the background color.

To apply multiple colors to the ‘Map’ option, simply, hold the Ctrl key (Mac: Command key) to select discontiguous colors …

Single Click Transparency Trick

… or hold the Shift key to select contiguous colors.

Single Click Transparency Trick

To remove colors from the selection (perhaps selected by mistake), simply click in the grey area just below the Color Table.

Single Click Transparency Trick

Type Tool (T) Tips & Tricks: Reloaded

Here’s a number of interesting things you should know and can do to enhance productivity and design work flow when working with Photoshop’s ‘Type Tool (T)’ .
Image Inside TextFirst things first, select the ‘Type Tool (T)’  (or press the ‘T’ key on the keyboard to make it the active tool). Place a type object onto your document.Captured left, place the target image above the type layer (in my case, just the letter ‘T’). The basic idea here, is to have an image automatically appear inside a type layer without any complex erasing or manipulating of either layer.

As captured, center, hold the Alt key (Mac: Option key) and place your cursor at the dividing area between the two layers until you see the ‘Clipping Mask’ cursor appear . While that cursor is visible, click once …

As captured, right, and you should see the upper layer indent and marked with a downward arrowhead (the ‘Clipping Mask’ icon). As well, the target layer also indicates a Clipping Mask is attached, as the layer title is now underlined.


Here’s the quick end result.

1.) Ctrl + G (Mac: Command + G) key combination on the upper layer.
2.) Link the layers you want to create a clipping group, and choose ‘Layer/Create Clipping Mask from Linked’.

To release the ‘Clipping Mask’:
1.) Shift + Ctrl + G (Mac: Shift + Command + G) on either layer within the group.
2.) Repeat the above original step of Alt + click (Mac: Option key + click) on the dividing area between the two Layers.
3.) Link the layers you want to create a clipping group, and choose ‘Layer/Release Clipping Mask’.

Use the ‘Move Tool (V)’ on the image layer (like in the above example) and notice how it moves without it affecting the mask.
Turning visibility off to the base Clipping Layer (the one thats marked with an underline in the title name), also hides the layers that are grouped with it.

Paste Into

Another method of having an image appear inside a text/type layer, requires these short steps.

Copy an image into the Clipboard that you want to use. Ctrl + click (Mac: Command + click) on the type thumbnail in the Layers Palette to reveal a transparent selection. (As I have captured below, indicated by the Marquee))

Next, go to ‘Edit/Paste Into’, and the image will be placed into a Layer Masked version of the type layer. (As I have captured below).

Thus, producing the same end result as the above ‘Clipping Mask’ technique.

Apply Filters

Ever try to apply a filter to a Type Layer, only to be greeted by the below message.

Unless you choose ‘Ok, then pretty much all the filters are available, but the Type Layer is no longer edit able.
To retain Type Layer edit ability and to apply filters simply apply a ‘Layer Mask’ to the Type Layer with the below simple steps.

Ctrl + click (Mac: Command + click) on the type thumbnail in the Layers Palette to reveal a transparent selection. (As captured below)

Then once the selection is made, simply click the ‘Make Layer Mask’ icon on the bottom of the Layers Palette.
You should then see the ‘Layer Mask’ thumbnail in the Layers Palette as I have captured below.

To apply a filter, Select that ‘Layer Mask Thumbnail’ first (Not the ‘Layer Thumbnail’) and then choose a filter from the ‘Filter’ menu option.

In my example below, I combined (Photoshop CS) a ‘Texture/Patchwork’ & ‘Texture/Stainglass’ filters with the Filter Gallery to achieve the below example.

Important Note: Masks are greyscale composites of the original layer, & if your original type layer is Black (as is my above sample), then to achieve variations or enhenced manipulations with color through the above described technique will require additional layers, Grouped Layers, Adjustment Layers or applied Blending Styles.

So, just to add color to this I went and applied some Blending Styles. Before you do, also make note of the ‘Layers Mask Hides Affects’ option is ticked on the main Blending Styles control panel.

And just a preview ofthe Layers Palette without getting into detail of the Blending Stlyes….

… and here is the final ‘Filter’ affect, combined with Blending Styles for coloration.

This may not a big revealation to some, but it certainly opens doors for creative type effects that allows the use of filters.

Cycle Through Font List: A pretty simple but affective procedure that often comes to the rescue when in doubt regarding a particular Type Font used in a design.Activate the ‘Type Tool (T)’ on the ‘Toolbar’.
Click and type your text onto your document at the insertion point, then ‘Ctrl + Enter’ (Mac: Command + Return) to commit the type layer.
Select the Type Layer in the ‘Layers Palette’.
Then up on the ‘Options Bar’ click inside the ‘Font’ name area to Select it.
Then simply, use the Up Arrow (Ascending Order) or Down Arrow (Descending Order) keys on the keyboard to cycle through the fonts, and watch a live preview of the type-face in your document at the same time.

Fake Text:

For Font Set Family Types that do not offer the Bold or Italic features, the Character Palette offers these two options to easily fake it.

Open the Character Palette, ‘Window/Character’, or press the Toggle icon on the Options Bar to bring it to the foreground.
Then click the Palette menu icon to reveal the ‘Faux’ options, as I have captured below. Or select the first two Character Options at the lower area, as I have encircled in red.

Type Tool (T) Tips & Tricks

Here’s a number of interesting things you should know and can do to enhance productivity and design work flow when working with Photoshop’s ‘Type Tool (T)’.
Toggle ItFirst things first, select the ‘Type Tool (T)’ (or press the ‘T’ key on the keyboard to make it the active tool).
Having done that, at anytime you have this tool active, toggle visibility of the ‘Paragraph Palette’ by pressing its ‘Options Bar’ icon. The great thing about using this icon, is that it brings up BOTH the Character & Paragraph Palettes at the same time, even if they are not tabbed under the same palette, they will show as individual Palettes.

Alternatively: The Character & Paragraph Palettes can be toggled individually via the ‘Window’ menu command.

Note: This icon appears when other Toolbar options are active, but only toggles the ‘Brushes Palette’ features for that particular tool. So this is the the only other tool that usues it exclusively for the Character/Paragraph Palettes.

To ‘Point Type’ or ‘Paragraph Type’, that is the question!You probably never realized, but Photoshop type objects come in two flavors, each with its special features.
Point Type: With the ‘Type Tool (T)’ active on the Toolbar, click anywhere on your document to indicate the insertion point of your text. Type in the text or paste it from the clipboard, and hit ‘Ctrl/Command + Enter/Return’ on the main keyboard to commit it.

I originally, typed in ‘Experimental combinations of Blending Styles can produce some interesting results.’, and as you can see, a draw back with using large text is that the Point Type carries off the document and stays on the same line. Thus requires manual breaks.

A workaround is to use the ‘Paragraph Type’ feature. To do so, simply activate the ‘Type Tool (T)’ on the Toolbar, then click and drag in a diagonal direction to create the size of ‘Paragraph Type’ area. (as captured below)

Once you let go after the click and drag process, you should see the ‘Paragraph Type’ with a blinking cursor at the insertion point as I have captured below.

Then simply type or paste the required text and it will remain confined to the size of the bounding hollow transform handlers.

To finalize the type, hit the Commit icon up on the Options Bar.
Alternatively: Single click on the Type Layer Thumnail in the Layers Palette to commit the changes. Or simply, press ‘Ctrl + Enter’ on the main keyboard (Mac: Command + Return).
To cancel the current edit, hit the Cancel icon up on the Options Bar.

To convert a Point Type layer to Paragraph Type, with the ‘Type Tool (T)’ active on the Toolbar, right-click (Mac: Control click) on the type in the document to reveal the context menu items and choose ‘Convert to Paragraph Text.’

Alternatively: Go to ‘Layer/Type/Convert to Paragraph Text’.Thats just an introduction to the Paragraph Type feature, more will be explained in future tutorials.

But just to show that click and Type with the ‘Type Tool (T)’ active is useful for single word or short phrases and click and drag and then type is useful for paragraph styles and formatting.

Smooth Text A commonly asked question is ‘How to keep text objects smooth around the edges?’, especially against high contrast backgrounds.

The simple workaround is to anti-alias your text layer, which lets you produce smooth-edged type by partially filling the edge pixels. As a result, the edges of the type blend into the background.

To do so, with the ‘Type Tool (T)’ active on the Toolbar, browse up to the Options Bar and next to the anti-alais icon is a drop down list for the anti-aliasing methods: None, Sharp, Crisp, Strong and Smooth. For smooth edges, depending on your design purpose just make sure the method is NOT set to None.

See the comparison examples below. The None method is clearly jaggied around the edges, while the others are relatively smooth, but also subtle.

Rastrize or Convert to ShapeAnother smoothing delimma occurs when you want to apply ‘Perspective or Distort’ Transform options to a type layer. They are not available with a noraml Type layer, so an option is to rasterize the Type layer and the extra Free Transform features are then available.

Note: Ctrl + T (Mac: Command + T) to Free Transform a layer, or alternatively, go to the ‘Edit/Transform’ menu option.

To rasterize a Type Layer, simple right-click (Mac: Control + click) on the type layer in the Layers Palette, and from the context menu items choose ‘Rasterize Layer’ from the list. (Note: Text no longer is editable, so back up the layer if necessary)

Alternatively: Go to the ‘Layer/Rasterize/Type (or Layer)’ option from the main menu.The comparison shot below shows the Free Transform capability between a normal & rasterized type layer.

Note: When transforming, hold the ‘Alt key’ (Mac: Option key) for total Free Transform capability.

Rasterizeing a type layer may often be a necessary task in specific cases, but can still produce jagged results.
Below is an example. The top shot shows the transformation, while the bottom reveals the (committed transformation) results. Its, not too bad, but even at 72 dpi (Screen Mode), its noticibly jaggied at the edges.

As a woraround, there is an option to ‘Convert Type to Shape’ found only under ‘Layer/Type/Convert To Shape’ main menu. Using the same transformations as I did with the above, I compared a Rasterized & Shape type layer. The Convert to Shape option offers the best smooth edges.

To provide another example, to really bring this point home: scale these two same samples upward, and the Convert to Shape type still retains its sharpness, while the Rasterized type degrades.

Format Multiple Text Layers at OnceYou’ve spent quite some time on your design layout, and you were just informed that that all your text layers need to be changed to a different type-face. EEEK!

Here is a workaround to change this with just a few steps.
1. Link all your Text layers in the Layers Palette.
2. Simply, Hold down the ‘Shift key’ as you change any of the Type format features up on the Options Bar or within the Character Palette, and all Type Layers will be affected.

Warp It!Use of the Warp Text on the Options Bar of an active Type Text layer can also produce some interesting results.

Alternatively: Choose ‘Layer/Type/Warp Text’
Here is two samples.
The first demonstrates a Arc text (using ‘Test of the System’) then, Converted to Shape (as described above) and then Free Transformed into position.Here is the Warp Settings

This one demonstrates ‘Warp Text’ of a Paragraph (see above to create a Paragraph Text layer), using the ‘Arch’ method.In this case I changed the Text Orintation (located on the Options Bar) for the Paragraph text to ‘Vertical’.

Here is the ‘Arch’ Warp settings:

Here is the result: (with Drop Shadow Blending Style)

Again, these are just introductory demonstrations and surely there are plenty of uses for them.

Final note regarding the ‘Warp Text’ method, and that is if ever you no longer need the Warp Text on a particular Type Layer and want to revert it back to its original Point Type or Paragraph Type, simply highlight that ‘Warp Text’ Layer (indicated with ) and then click the ‘Warp Text’ icon up on the Options Bar to bring up the ‘Warp Text’ control panel, and in the ‘Style’ drop down list choose the uppermost option called ‘None’, then click ‘OK’ command to complete the conversion.

Various Tips & Tricks

CTRL/Command + Click on any given layer to Select it.

  • You just about finished your layout design and you realize it requires a new Object and so your layers require rearrangement. Here’s what to do, in your Layers Palette ‘Link’ all the Layers that need to be rearranged and with the ‘Move Tool (M)’ shift all the Layers in one movement. Or with the ‘Arrow’ keys on your keyboard, nudge those Layers in the desired direction.

  • Make use of ‘Layer Sets’. The folder icon on the bottom of the Layers Palette will create that just for you. Then place the necessary Layers inside that Folder Set for proper organization. Its a good idea to start a design with use of these.

  • Ok, so you never bothered to use Layered Sets and your close to finishing your design, but the ‘Layers Palette’ is an unorganized mess! Here’s the solution. Decide what layers are appropriate for a Set. For example you have five Layer elements that make up a logo, then link them together. Then click on the little black ‘Arrow Menu’ on the top/right of the ‘Layers Palette’, and from the Drop Down list choose ‘New Set From Linked…’. Give the Set a Name (Logo for example). Finally, notice that the Blending Mode for that new layer set is ‘Pass Through’, change that to ‘Normal’.

  • For more workspace area, or if your Document exceeds the workspace area because of all the Palettes blocking your view. Hit the Tab key to toggle all Palettes visibility mode.

  • Save yourself a click on the ‘Zoom Tool’ on the Toolbar Palette by using the ‘Ctrl/Command + Plus(+)/Minus(-) keys. Works well if your like me and you have all the Palettes toggled off (Tab Key).

  • Spacebar is your friend.
    Ever have a good zoom in a document or you design above the normal 800×600 resolution, and say your using the ‘Polygonal Lasso’ tool and you reach the end of your view able area in your document, well, instead of reaching to adjust the scrollbars, press the ‘Spacebar’ key and the tool you are using automatically toggles to the ‘Hand’ Tool so you can adjust your documents position . Let go of the ‘Spacebar’ key and your back to the previously used tool.

  • You have more than one Document open and you need to see them side by side for comparison, go to ‘Window/Documents/Tile.

  • If your personal about how your Workspace looks, then save it.
    Go to ‘Window/Workspace/Save Workspace’, then give it a name when prompted. Handy if there are multiple users sharing your computer, or if certain Workspace’s work better for different design sizes.

    At anytime, Reset the Palettes or delete the current Workspace by going to ‘Window/Workspace/Delete Workspace’ or ‘Windows/Workspace/Reset Palette Locations’.

  • Got a lot of documents open and need to see a quick Slide Show.
    Press the F key to toggle ‘Full Screen Mode’, then press the Ctrl/Command + Tab keys to cycle through the open documents.

    Ctrl/Command + Tab will cycle Next through your documents in the order they appear in Photoshop.
    Ctrl/Command + Shift + Tab will cycle Previous through your documents in the order they appear in Photoshop.

  • Cycle through all your fonts.
    Have a text layer selected in your document, then go to the ‘Font List’ drop down and select the default one or the one you have originally chosen, then use the Up/Down Arrow keys to cycle through the list of fonts read by Photoshop.

    Font’s that have no alternative ‘Bold/Italic’ options, use the ‘Faux Bold or Faux Italic’ options from the ‘Window/Character’ Panel.

    When using a lot of text on a single layer, use the ‘Ctrl +A’ keyboard feature for easy selection.

  • Ctrl/Command + Shift + N , creates a new empty layer.
    Ctrl/Command + Shift + N + Alt/Option , creates a new empty layer bypassing the Layer Properties Dialog Box.

    Layer Manipulation.
    Once in the Layers Palette, and you choose to re-organize a layer, here’s a couple of keyboard tricks to get use to.

    Alt/Option + [ cycles through stacked (multiple) layers in a downward motion. (including the Background Layer)
    Alt/Option  + ] cycles through stacked (multiple) layers in an upward motion. (including the Background Layer)

    Ctrl/Command  + [ moves the selected layer downward (excluding the background layer)(works with Layer Sets)
    Ctrl/Command  + ] moves the selected layer upward (excluding the background layer)(works with Layer Sets)

    Ctrl/Command  + Shift + [ moves the selected layer to the bottom of the stack (excluding the background layer)(works with Layer Sets)
    Ctrl/Command  + Shift + ] moves the selected layer to the top of the stack (excluding the background layer)(works with Layer Sets)

    Delete multiple layers.

    Save yourself production time when there’s a need to remove multiple unused layers.
    Here’s how.
    Link the unnecessary layers then press Ctrl + E key to Merge Linked Layers, then drag to the garbage bin icon on the Layers Palette.
    To avoid the Delete Dialogue Box, hold the Alt key as you drag a linked item to the garbage bin icon.

    Delete Hidden layers.

    Save yourself production time when there’s a need to remove unwanted hidden layers.
    Here’s how.
    Go to ‘Layer/Delete/Hidden Layer’ option on the top menu bar.
    Alternately, from the ‘Layers Palette’, select the context menu button option (the small arrow) and from the list choose, ‘Delete Hidden Layers’.
    TIP: To avoid the ‘Confirm Delete Dialog Box’, hold the Alt Key, click the context menu button, scroll to the option ‘Delete Hidden Layers’ & select it. This will automatically delte the hidden layers.
    WARNING: Only recommended if your document does not require the use of hidden layers for ‘Slice or Rollover Effects’.

    Cycle through Layer Blending Modes.
    Alt/Option  + Shift + (Plus sign) key to cycle downward in the Layer Blending Modes list.
    Alt/Option  + Shift – (Minus sign) key to cycle upward in the Layer Blending Modes list.

    Applying styles across multiple layers.

    First create an empty layer. With the new empty layer still selected, Link the layers you would like to Merge.
    Alt/Option  + Ctrl/Command  + E keys to ‘Merge Linked’ Layers and create a duplicate.
    Alt/Option  + Ctrl/Command  + Shift + E key combination will ‘Merge Visible’ Layers and create a duplicate.
    (Handy when you don’t want to destroy the original layers.)
    Then go ahead an apply the style required on the Merged Linked duplicate layer.

    Hide ‘n Seek

    Hold the Alt/Option  key when clicking on the Eye Symbol icon (Visibility Mode) in the Layers Palatte to Hide all other layer layers except the active layer.

  • Use Adjustment Layers
    The benefit of using adjustments layers is that it provides unique adjustments to your composition without destroying the original pixels. Unlike the same ‘Adjustments’ from the ‘Image’ menu option, any affects done through those options is applied directly to your photo.

    So ultimately, flexibility and non-destructive habits are well worth learning.

  • Any Screen Color Picker

    Here’s a few simple steps to capture any color from your screen, inside or outside the Photoshop program view. Though, many Color Pickers exist, there’s actually a rudimentary one available within Photoshop’s ‘Eyedropper Tool (I)’.

    To get the Color Code you want though, involves resizing Photoshop’s program window so that the Eyedropper Tool can capture an area outside its program. (Ie so when you have a browser window open or another program behind Photoshop).

    First resize your Photoshop window by simple hitting ‘Restore Down’ (middle) button at the upper right of your screen.

    Then once you are free from the Programs full screen mode, click and drag on any of the programs edge/boundary (indicated by double arrow cursor below) to resize to your liking so that there’s plenty of background in view. (ie the background could be a web page or another application)
    Or, as in the second screen capture, simply click and drag from any of the four corners to reposition.

    Next, simply close out any Floating Palettes (Brushes/Layers etc.) out of view, so as to maximize the viewing area. But leave the Toolbar visible and open a new document (any preset size, but the smaller the better)

    Click the example of a repositioned Photoshop window with my home page in the background.


    1. Position Photoshop and the background area
    2. Open a new document
    3. Select the Eyedropper Tool (I)
    4. With the Eyedropper Tool active, click anywhere inside the new document area, keep the mouse pressed and drag outside of Photoshop viewing area and notice the ‘Foreground Color’ Thumbnail Swatch change to reflect the color you hover over.
    5. Upon release of the mouse, thats the color you capture.