Here are a few really handy things in Photoshop that I use ALL the time.
This is located under the IMAGE menu. If you’re working on something smallish on a large transparent background, select TRIM to crop out all the empty space – or the space at the top…or at the bottom. This trims out empty space on all visible layers. If you have something that you don’t want cropped on a layer that’s turned off, make sure you turn it on before using trim.
So you have a Photoshop document with a bazillion layers. You want to crop a portion of it and save it as a separate file. You can do what I used to do – flatten the layers, crop the part I wanted to save separately, save it…and then realize the next day that I saved OVER my original layered document! ARRRRRGHH! As an aside, if that ever happens to you, and you realize it while you still have the file open, try CTRL+Z (Command+Z on Mac) until you get back to your original layers.
Anyhow, you don’t have to do any of that. Just make a selection and then go to EDIT>COPY MERGED, then make a new doc and PASTE – you’ll see that Copy Merged took everything from the visible layers (not just the selected layer) and copied it to the clipboard. And your original file is safe!
This is one I use a lot – pattern overlays are good, but it’s sometimes difficult to get the pattern positioned right, so Paste Into works great. Let’s say for instance you have a circle and a lovely flowered pattern. You want to get the flowered pattern into the circle – first you make a selection that’s bigger than the circle and fill it with your pattern. Then select the pattern and copy it to the clipboard. Then select your circle and go to EDIT>PASTE INTO.
Now if you look at your layers palette, you’ll see that it created a new layer above your original circle layer and masked it with the circle selection. You can turn off that bottom layer. Now if you want to move your pattern around, just unlink the layer and the mask, select the layer (or the mask) and you can position it however you want.
You’ll realize by now that my favorite is CTRL+Z! 😀 There are so many that I won’t go into them here, but if you’re interested, you can go grab a complete list in a handy PDF from Adobe!