Every software has a set of menus and shortcuts to help to improve the speed of the artist and help them to focus more on the creative side of things and not being interrupted too much by unnecessary long chains of clicks. Photoshop is no exception to that and has a comprehensive and customizable interface, allowing you to arrange the software to your liking. But what if we can push it a bit more than just assigning shortcuts to tools and menus?
Let's talk about the feature that is sometimes largely overlooked not just by novice Photoshop users, but even seasoned artists may find something new for them in a software they have been using for decades.
This feature is "Right-Click context menu" and you can find a lot of useful things in it for a variety of tools.
The majority of you and myself included use the right-click when our brush is selected (B by default). Even though I've seen some people have their brush pallet open in the same or separate monitor and they use it to scroll through the list or thumbnails I use the brush context menu as long as I remember myself using Photoshop in general; and for some reason it didn't occur to me to try it with the other tools from the pallet!
Brush Tool Selected
When you have your Brush (or Eraser or Stamp tool) selected press the right button on your mouse or whichever button is assigned on your stylus
You will see the pop-up window shown below:
Without leaving the screen or switching to another window you have the ability to select the size of the brush, its hardness, shape, history of the last 7 brushes used and your collections, where you can sort the brushes whatever you like.
Move Tool Selected
Right-clicking on the canvas when your Move tool is selected (V by default) will bring you the list of groups, layers and adjustments under the cursor in the file:
As you can see my mouse pointer clicked on a point which contained pretty much every layer in my file. Also notice that layers hidden in folders are also hidden in the Right-Click menu.
If you have your Auto-Select: unchecked (and you totally should) pressing Ctrl will temporarily check it on. There you can decide what to select: Layers or Groups only.
Unfortunately if you have your groups colored the Right-Click menu doesn't show it. Oh well, maybe one day it will be a thing :)
Marquee And Lasso Tools Selected
If you select part of the image with Rectangular/Elliptical marquee or Lasso/Polygonal Lasso (M or L by default respectfully ) and press Right Mouse Button You will get a list of options corresponding to manipulations with the selection:
For instance you can save your selection or edit its Feather property. Also Fill and Content-Aware Fill are pretty useful too.
Magic Wand Tool Selected
Right-click on a selection made with Magic wand and it will display a menu where you can select the sample size, Grow, Substract or Intersect for instance.
On the other hand, the Quick Selection tool has the same menu as the Rectangular/Elliptical marquee or Lasso/Polygonal Lasso. If you right-click when there is no selection the menu will be a bit different:
As you can see it allows us to open the Color Range dialog instead of having to go to the main menu to Select/Color Range...
This is great, it's just under your fingertips so you can select the range of colors in the layer you need to paint on, delete or modify.
I used to double click on the Layer in the Layer Tab in order to bring the Blending Options dialog, and with the right-click it's way faster.
Layer Tab Drop-Down Menu
Some of the tools allow you to "Isolate Layers". Essentially what it does is it triggers a drop-down menu on the layer panel to switch to the mode "Show Selected", this will hide any layers in the layer panel which aren't selected.
It could be handy in situations when you have a huge document and need to work on multiple layers in different areas. Or if you need to toggled On and Off some layers simultaneously, if you have a large distance between those layers it can be tricky or virtually impossible to do.
You can also select all the layers with a certain effect, like "Drop Shadow", or select using layer name. I find it very useful when you have to QC (Quality Check) a PSD before sending it to the compositing team to be sure you don't have any layers set to Multiply or Add mode as that causes issues when exported from Photoshop.
I encourage you to go through all the tools and try it out, find maybe something new for yourself, or something a bit more efficient.
Also don't forget to watch the Right-click context menus tutorial in the Academy where Conrad goes into details about the subject and also shows you some great examples of how to speed up your process.
Until next time! :)