5 Photoshop Tools to Save Time and Your Sanity

Photoshop has revolutionized the digital editing industry, but the plethora of tools available to newer users of the program can be overwhelming and daunting when beginning a new project. Many of us understand the basic concepts surrounding this and other Adobe tools, but have failed to fully comprehend the process of implementing the key features into our work.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 tools that will make your life much easier, saving you the time and the stress that comes with a lack of knowledge regarding these tools. Take a look, and give each tool a try. The ones mentioned are fairly simple, so for those over-achievers reading this, there are many more design tutorials on Youtube and other websites.

Simple Masking

Masks are one of the most useful tools in the program. When dealing with images with complex layers, you’ll likely want to combine them and arrange them in a way that exposes them partially. This way, you can work on one piece at a time, while turning on and off different layers to see how they all fit together and make your project come to life.

Luckily, there is a way to do this that does not involve erasing top layer components you might discover you need in the future. Masks allow you to expose partial layers without losing any pixels.

When trying to combine or edit pictures, using simple vector or layer masks is pretty much essential. Vector masks allow you to apply effects to certain parts of a layer, making it the tool you need to use in order to edit parts of your photo.

While talking about vectors, remember this one crucial point: images saved as vector files can be scaled and resized to any proportion without losing their quality. If you might be changing the size of the picture or part of the layer, use a vector to maintain the quality of the original image.

For more information on using layer and vector masks, check out Adobe’s official site.

Healing Brush Tool

Those looking to touch up a photo in order to remove imperfections, blemishes, or inconsistencies will find the healing brush tool indispensable.

This tool takes sample pixels in order to cover the chosen imperfections. This tool functions slightly differently than the clone tool, as the healing brush tool also intuitively mimics the lighting and texture of the healed area.

This makes the healing brush tool ideal for working with skin touch ups, whereas the clone tool is more useful for editing backgrounds.

Adjustment Layers

An adjustment layer is an additional layer one can place on top of the image they are editing in order to apply effects to the top layer rather than the actual image. This allows one to have an easier time trying out multiple edits and effects, especially if one is unsure of what they would like to do to an image.

Rather than despair because you cannot get your original image back after multiple rounds of edits, adjustment layers are easily deleted and will save you time and hassle.

Adjustment layers also make it easy for users to apply the same effect to multiple images in a series. Once you have perfected your edits utilizing an adjustment layer, the entire layer is simply easily copied and pasted onto another image, saving you countless hours of attempting to recreate various edits and effects.

Clone Stamp

As mentioned earlier, the clone stamp tool functions similarly to the healing brush tool. This tool recreates entire selections of a photo and pastes them onto the selection of your choosing.

The clone stamp tool is absolutely ideal for touching up old, faded and destroyed photographs without a hassle. Simply choose small selections of the image to cover up cracks and blemishes in the photograph and you’ll be in business.

The clone stamp tool is easily adjusted for opacity and flow, meaning pasted sections won’t appear to have been transposed harshly or in a way that is obvious to the casual eye.


The crop tool is one of the most useful tools in the program. While some may think the benefits of the crop tool speak for themselves, there are a few lesser-known ways to utilize this tool.

Users can utilize crop to rotate an image or use perspective crop. If you’re working with an image in which the perspective is off, you’ll be able to fix this using the crop tool.

Crop also allows you to easily crop multiple images to the same size.

Best Tools

While there are many more tools available to you, these tools are likely to provide you with the most shortcuts. Editing an image doesn’t have to be stressful, and is not just for professionals with tools like these! You may run into questions along the way, and when they do come up, the internet will be your best friend. Give it a try!

Guest article written by Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA and now works as a business consultant for companies around the U.S.

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