Photoshop Fill Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop saves time

The Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts menu is shown.
The Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts menu.

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. 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.

These instructions apply to Photoshop CS5 and later. Some menu items and shortcuts may be different between versions.

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.

Most of the tools in Photoshop have their own, single-key shortcuts. Here some important ones:

Use Shift with these commands to cycle through different types of tools, if they're available. For example, Pressing Shift + M lets you switch between the elliptical and rectangular marquees.

  • V: Move
  • M: Marquee
  • L: Lasso
  • W: Magic Wand
  • C: Crop
  • B: Brush
  • G: Paint Bucket
  • T: Text
  • U: Shape

Keyboard Shortcuts to Fill Layers 

To fill a Photoshop layer or selected area with the foreground color, use 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.  

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 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 to reset foreground or background colors back to black and white. 

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 two numbers quickly to set transparency to other numbers, like 56 percent.
  • 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 of 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.
  • 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.

You can create custom shortcuts by selecting Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.