Solved: Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts Not Working

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This article explains how to fix your Photoshop keyboard shortcuts when they are not working. You’ll learn what and where to check in order to troubleshoot this common PS problem.

First Steps in Troubleshooting Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

Okay, first things first. Is Photoshop active? Is the current program that is open on your computer Photoshop? Often times when I Opt/Alt+Tab over to Finder/Explorer then close the Finder/Explorer tab, I might not be automatically brought back into Photoshop. I’ll try to use Photoshop keyboard shortcuts only to find them not working. So, to begin make sure Photoshop is actually active.

Next, make sure you have the right thing selected and that that thing can do the action of the keyboard shortcut. Do you have the correct layer selected? Maybe you’re using Command/Control+coma (,) to turn off a layer’s visibility and it’s not working. Do you have the right layer selected in the Layers panel?

Certain types of layers can do things that other layers cannot. For example, the Background layer cannot be Free Transformed. So you can be smashing Command/Control+T with the Background layer selected and absolutely nothing will happen. That’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

Speaking of Free Transform, the last of the basic things to check is to make sure you aren’t actively in an action such as Free Transform. When something like Free Transform is active and you haven’t accepted or rejected the change you made, you can’t do anything else.

If you aren’t sure, check towards the top-right of the toolbar for a “no symbol” and “check mark” icon. If you see these, then you need to select one of them before you can do another action.

Free Transform no symbol and checkmark icons in Photoshop
Make sure Free Transform is not active

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Finding the Correct Keyboard Shortcuts in PS

Now that you’ve checked all the basic places when your Photoshop keyboard shortcuts are not working, it’s time to make sure you are using the proper shortcuts. I use like 30 different applications across both Mac and Windows operating systems and I’m constantly scratching my head some days trying to recall these obscure shortcuts I once knew. Don’t sweat it — it happens to us all.

When you can’t remember, you don’t know, or if you are absolutely certain of the Photoshop keyboard shortcut and it’s not working, check the master list inside Photoshop.

To do that, go to the Edit menu and select Keyboard Shortcuts. A new box will appear called Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus. Under the Shortcuts For: dropbox are different sets of shortcuts. Change this as needed. Then in the center part of the window you can search for action and it’s associated shortcut.

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus tool
Go to the Edit menu and select Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’d like to modify, add, or deleted the keyboard shortcuts you can. Here’s Adobe’s breakdown on how to do that.

One more cool thing you can do while in this screen is to get a .htm file made (basically a Word Doc read by a web browser like Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) of the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. Hit the “Summarize…” button and select a location for the file. Then open it up in a web browser.

List from Photoshop of it's keyboard shortcuts to check when they are not working
Open this file up in any web browser

What if the PS Keyboard Shortcuts Still Aren’t Working?

If you’ve done the above steps and your Photoshop keyboard shortcuts are still not working, hit up the forums. Leave as detailed as possible explanation of what’s going on including your systems specs. The Photoshop forums are super active so with any luck you should receive a speedy response.


If you’ve now gone through this tutorial and you still need help, please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to help troubleshoot it. But if your Photoshop keyboard shortcuts were not working and now they are, I hope you stick around and check out some of the other Photoshop tutorials on my website or consider signing up to get notified about new blog posts and happenings around EVF.

– Josh

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