Mac Photos Editing Shortcuts

The photo editor in the Mac Photos app includes a lot of shortcuts that can help speed up editing, especially if you need to make adjustments to a range of photos. You can enter and exit editing mode quickly, move between photos without leaving the editor, jump to different editing modes, and compare the original to your adjustments easily. You can also fine-tune cropping and rotations.

Video Transcript
So let's look at some keyboard shortcuts and other techniques to help you edit photos in the Mac Photos app. So you've selected a photo here and you want to go and Edit it. There's a keyboard shortcut that will get you there and that's Command, Return. Hitting Command Return will edit the current photo. While you're in there editing you can use Command, Return to get out as well.

Once you're in there it takes you to the Adjust mode. You've got Adjust, Filters, and Crop. You can use A, F, and C keys to move between these. So F takes you to Filters, C takes you to Crop, and A can take you back to Adjust. So when you're adjusting a photo no matter what you're doing to it you can always compare it to the original to see where you're at. There's this button over here that does it but the M key is an easier way to do it. Hold down M and you see the original photo. Release M to see the version you're working on with all of your adjustments. This works in any mode.

Now sometimes when you're playing with colors and things in Adjustments you want to zoom in on the photo. You can do that with Command and the key with the Plus on it. You can zoom in. It's not changing or editing the photo when you do this. You're just viewing a smaller area. You can do Command and the minus key to get back out.

Now in Crop you've got some shortcuts as well. So you've got to notice here on the right there's the Aspect list here. It might be closed so you may have to open it. It defaults to Freeform which means you can grab a corner or an edge and make any kind of cropping that you want. But you can do other things as well. For instance, if you switch to the original it will stick to the current ratio. So if you drag a corner in it's going to only allow you to have a photo of the same width and height ratio. The same is true for any of these other things here. If I go to square and I drag a corner in or an edge it's only going to stick to square. Now I can always use the Reset button to get back to where I was.

One handy thing you can do is when you have a set aspect ratio, anything besides Freeform, if you drag a corner you can see the opposite corner stays there. If you drag an edge the opposite edge stays there. But if you hold the Option key down and you drag it uses the center instead. So that's really handy. A lot of times that's what we really want. Not to be able to go quickly to an edge like that.

Now if you want to rotate your photo you can drag this here and it will rotate it. But sometimes this moves so fast you can't quite get exactly what you want. If, before you click, you hold down the Option key and click it moves much slower. So as I move my cursor up and down the amount it's rotating is very slow. Like from top to bottom I'm getting just a little bit more than one degree of change. Whereas if I don't use the Option key you can see I'm getting almost fifteen degrees of change if I go from top to bottom.

So just two final ones that I want to share with you. One is if you go to Adjust here, we'll reset all of the adjustments, if you want to just use the default Enhance, which has got this button here, you can do Command E and it will enhance the photo just one step. Just one command there. Then you can use the arrow keys to move between photos. So here I am editing this photo. But if I use the right arrow key it goes to the next photo. The left arrow key goes back. If I have a whole group of photos that I want to edit I can just use the arrow keys to go between them.

You've got this whole list here at the bottom so you can see where you're at. But if you were to select multiple photos, like I'm going to select these three photos here, and do Command, Return to go into Edit notice it restricts the photos I've got visible here. Not to everything in my photos collection but just to those three. I can use the arrow keys to move between those three without going to the ones before and the ones after.

Comments: 18 Responses to “Mac Photos Editing Shortcuts”

    Max
    3 weeks ago

    Is there any way to set Photo’s background to grey or black when viewing photos as you could a few versions back?

    3 weeks ago

    Max: Not currently. But hopefully maybe we’ll get that in a future version as part of a Dark Mode update, maybe.

    Jim
    3 weeks ago

    You were in “Photo” when you demonstrated these shortcuts. I don’t maintain a photo library on my Mac, but I would like to use the same shortcuts in “Preview.” Is that possible?

    3 weeks ago

    Jim: No, these are for Photos. But Preview has some shortcuts too. For the most part, the editing tools in Preview are called “Markup” and you can find some shortcuts listed in the menu Tools, Annotate.

    Mary
    3 weeks ago

    Hi
    How can I delete duplicated photographs easily
    Thank you

    3 weeks ago

    Mary: Choose View, Photos so you are looking at your library, not a special list or album. They are sorted by date, so duplicates will be next to each other and easy to spot. Scroll through and spot any duplicates and delete them. There is no easy shortcut that won’t put your valuable photos at risk. Also, figure out why you have duplicates and make you don’t repeat the mistake in the future.

    Joan
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, re: Mary’s question is there an easy way to determine the size of duplicate files? Once I happily deleted a bunch and found they were full size and I left the thumbnails.

    A second question – I love the right/left arrow tip. Does this copy the adjustments to the next photo? Is there a way to do that for a bunch of similar files? Thank you.

    MaryAnne
    3 weeks ago

    Gary, THANK YOU for this tip on finding duplicates.

    3 weeks ago

    Joan: Yes. For the first image, choose Window, Info or use Command+i to bring up the picture info. You can see the file size there and picture dimensions, etc. Leave that info window open and you’ll see the info change as you move through the images. It is then easy to tell inferior copies to originals.
    While the arrow keys won’t automatically copy adjustments between photos (that would be a big problem if it did!) you can use Image, Copy Adjustments and Image, Paste Adjustments to do so. Use the keyboard shortcuts for them to make it quicker.

    Dave H
    3 weeks ago

    Right click (two finger click) over the ADJUST menu brings up a menu which includes “Copy adjustments” and “paste adjustments ” – quick and easy to get to.

    Caroline
    3 weeks ago

    Another super-useful video, Gary. I’ve edited hundreds, probably thousands of photos, and I’d never realised those shortcuts existed! Will be saving me loads of time from here on in. Thank you! :)

    Joan
    3 weeks ago

    Thank you Gary and Dave for the tips! The combination of Cmd-Shift-C and Cmd-shift-V to copy and paste adjustments plus the awareness that you can scroll between photos with the photo strip on the bottom is awesome! Thank you! Will share this one with our Mac group!

    Lynda Farabee
    3 weeks ago

    WOW Gary. Those are tremendous tips. I had no idea that versatility existed. Thanks you for sharing with us. Love shortcut keys. Have previous found it tiresome to clicks through those steps that the shortcut keys took care of so easily.

    Tom
    2 weeks ago

    My–Oh–My time savers I never found! Reading documentation “… do this to do this …” is not always intuitive to me. Why do I want to do that? Video question: How did you get the photo tray under the edited picture? I finally found Option-S in the Photos help menu under Keyboard Shortcuts. I never was able to figure out what it did in other modes, or if it even worked.

    Karl
    2 weeks ago

    Gary, is there a way to name pictures so you can find them easier later on?

    2 weeks ago

    Karl: There are many ways to do this. When in Photos or albums or moments view you should see titles or filenames under the photos. If not, choose View, Metadata, Titles. Then you can click and edit the names under any photo. You can also use Window, Info to view information about any selected photo and edit the title there, and also add a description and keywords. These will all be factors when searching. Keywords can be used to create a whole system of organization (https://macmost.com/using-keywords-in-photos.html).

    Karl
    2 weeks ago

    Gary, this can only be done after the picture has been taken and saved to your Mac, it can’t be done in iOS on your iPhone, correct? Thanks

    2 weeks ago

    Karl: These are keyboard shortcuts for a Mac. You don’t need keyboard shortcuts for iOS, as it is all touchscreen anyway.

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