How to Crop in Photoshop

Customize your photos for the perfect framing

Cropping in Photoshop

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If you have an image packed full of awesome but wish there wasn't that photo-bomber on the fringes, or you want to rid yourself of that blanched out white that ruins the composition, you need to learn how to crop a picture. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most versatile image editing applications and its crop tool is quick and easy to use.

The following guide focuses on Adobe Photoshop CC version 20.0.4. Most methods will also work with older versions of Photoshop, but the methodology may not be as exact.

How to Crop Images in Photoshop

It may come as no surprise that the Crop tool is the best place to start when it comes to cutting your pictures down to a more favorable size and focusing in on what matters. There are a few different ways you can use it to achieve a final image you're happy with.

Free Cropping

The Crop tool is the most simple, but versatile cropping tool at your disposal.

  1. Select the Crop tool from the Tools menu – it's typically fifth from the top and looks like a pair of crossed set squares.

    Crop tool
  2. You should see crop boundaries appear around the edge of your image. You can either select and drag them to create a new crop selection, or select anywhere on the image and drag to draw your selection manually.

    Hold shift if you want to maintain a 1:1 aspect ratio.

  3. When you're happy with your selection, either double-click/tap, press Enter, or alternatively, select the checkmark in the top menu. If you don't like your selection, select the cross instead to redo it.

If you accidentally crop your image in a way you don't like, press Ctrl (or CMD)+Z to undo your action. Alternatively press Ctrl (or CMD)+Alt+Z to take several undo steps.

Crop to Dimensions

If choosing the new focus and dimensions of your cropped image by hand are a little slapdash for your liking, Photoshop has some more precise tools you can leverage.

Cropping

Select the Crop tool as before, and look to the top menu. There are a number of options you can use to crop your image:

  • Use preset ratio and resolution: The first box gives you a number of predefined aspect ratios and resolutions you can choose from if you want your image to adhere to those. You can even create your own crop presets if you like.
  • Set specific dimensions: The next boxes along let you specify specific dimensions of your own if you have them in mind – simply type them in and they should be applied immediately.

Crop for Composition

If you're cropping to improve the composition of your photo, Photoshop's Crop tool has a number of other interesting elements you can try out. The Straighten tool, for example, lets you change the angle of the photo to line it up properly with the bounds or some other exterior factor.

Play around with these different composition cropping options if you're keen to make your photos look more professional or more concise. They can be very useful for when it comes to aesthetically cutting out unneeded space in your photos and to adjust posing and layout after the image has been taken.

  1. Select the Crop tool, then look to the top menu.

  2. Select the Straighten tool and draw a straight line to where you want the edge of the image to be and at what angle you want it to turn to.

  3. Select Overlay Options (it looks like a grid) to add photographic "rules" to the Crop tool, such as the rule of thirds. It can help you crop an image so it adheres to standards of composition or aesthetics.

Transform Perspective While Cropping

Another useful cropping tool that's worth learning how to use is Perspective Crop. It allows you to adjust the perspective, or the perceived angle that the picture was taken from, while cropping down the edges of an image.

The Perspective Crop tool can take some getting used to and has a steeper learning curve than some of Photoshop's other tools. Play around with it a little to find the right effect for what you want to do to the image.

  1. Select or press and hold on the Crop tool until the list of options appears, then select the Perspective Crop tool.

  2. Select around the distorted portions of your image. If necessary, drag the edges of the marquee boundary to the edges of the elements in your image that you want to crop to and change the perspective of.

  3. When you're happy with your selection, press Enter or double-click/tap the image to confirm your selection. The crop and perspective adjustments will then be made automatically.

Transform Manual Crop

Although not strictly a cropping tool, you can also use Photoshop's Transform function and a new canvas to crop an image. It's useful if you want an image to be cropped and maintain a specific size or aspect ratio when you're done.

  1. Press Ctrl (or CMD)+A to select your entire image, then press Ctrl (or CMD)+C to copy it.

  2. Press Ctrl (or CMD)+N or select File > New to open a new canvas, then select the dimensions you want for your new canvas (and eventual image).

  3. Either press Ctrl (or CMD)+V or select Edit > Paste to paste your image into the new canvas.

  4. Now that your image is in the canvas, you can "crop" it by moving or transforming it to leave elements outside the bounds of the canvas. Select the Move tool and use it to adjust its placement, or use Free Transform (Ctrl/CMD+T) to change its size and what lies within and without the bounds of the image.

  5. When you're happy with the cropped image you can continue to make any necessary edits. Otherwise, save it as you would any other and enjoy your newly resized and focused picture.