Photoshop Fill Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop saves time

The Keyboard Shortcuts menu is shown.

 Sue Chastain

Using keyboard shortcuts in any program makes projects a bit easier. You don't have to hunt for menus or pause from the task at hand. You've probably seen shortcuts in use. When you access an Adobe Photoshop video tutorial on YouTube, and the presenter seems to be magically switching tools and opening windows and panels with no mouse movement, keyboard shortcuts are probably the reason. The odds are good the presenter is using shortcuts that are committed to memory. Once you start using shortcuts, you'll probably forget where the menu item attached to that shortcut is found in the Photoshop menus.

You don't have to go to the toolbar or menus to fill a layer in Photoshop. Just commit your favorite shortcuts to memory and let your fingers loose on the keyboard.

Shortcut Formats

Shortcuts are listed beside menu items. Depending on your operating system, you may need to press a modifier key. The common modifier keys used with shortcuts are:

  • Command on a Mac or Ctrl on a PC
  • Option on a Mac or Alt on a PC
  • Shift

For example, to deselect a selection in Photoshop, the keyboard command on a Mac is Command+D. On a PC, it is Ctrl+D.

You also may have noticed the tool tips that appear when you roll the cursor over a tool. For example, if you place the cursor over the magnifying glass in the toolbar, you see Zoom Tool (Z). Press the letter Z on your keyboard at any time to select the Zoom tool.

Keyboard Shortcuts to Fill Layers 

You can fill a Photoshop layer with the foreground color by using the keyboard shortcut Alt+Backspace in Windows or Option+Delete on a Mac. 

Fill a layer with the background color using Ctrl+Backspace in Windows or Command+Delete on a Mac. 

Both these keyboard shortcuts fill sections with color or change the color of vector shape layers and text. 

Preserve Transparency With a Shortcut

Add the Shift key to the fill layers shortcuts to preserve transparency while you're filling. For example, use Shift+Ctrl+Backspace for a background color. This shortcut only fills the areas that contain pixels. 

Add the Shift key to preserve transparency when filling from history. (This shortcut doesn't work in Elements.) 

Open the Edit > Fill Dialog

Use Shift+Backspace in Windows or Shift+Delete on a Mac to open the Edit > Fill dialog for other fill options in Photoshop. 

Swapping or Undoing Colors 

Use the X key to swap foreground and background colors. 

Use the D key – an easy way to remember this one is that D stands for "default" – to reset foreground or background colors back to black and white. 

You can also use Ctrl+Alt+Shift in Windows or Command+Option+Shift on a Mac while you're loading Photoshop if you want to go back to the default settings and user interface. Hold these buttons while the program loads.

Other Handy Shortcuts

There are plenty of other keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop, including: 

  • Use Ctrl+Alt+Backspace in Windows or Command+Delete on a Mac to fill from the active history state.
  • Pressing a number key when an object is selected increases or decreases opacity by 10 percent. For example, pressing the 1 key reduces the opacity to 10 percent. Pressing the 0 key returns the selection to 100 percent opacity.
  • Press the I key to select the eyedropper tool for sampling colors.
  • Using Shift plus any numeric key changes opacity and fills a selected layer. It can also change the opacity and fill of the tool if you're using a drawing tool.
  • Use Command+I on a Mac or Ctrl+I in Windows to invert parts of a layer when you invert colors of a layer mask. 
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E in Windows or Command+Option+Shift+E on a Mac allows you to keep all your layers but merge them so that you can convert them into a flattened layer. This shortcut also allows you to duplicate a merged layer.

Don't forget that you can create your own custom shortcuts by selecting Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.