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As the software that we use matures and becomes more feature-laden, the list of keyboard shortcuts (of which we are HUGE supporters) grows and grows and grows. Both Photoshop and InDesign now have a lot of keyboard shortcuts that involve holding down four keys simultaneously. It’s a lot like playing Twister on your keyboard. But it’s still worth learning the shortcuts and using them.

I subscribe to the e-newsletter from It’s one of a few dozen newsletters I get that have a lot of articles that don’t apply to what I do and even more that are so far over my head that I can’t comprehend. But it’s still worth subscribing because: a) It’s free, and you know what I always say — “If it’s for free, it’s for me!”; b) Once in a while there’s a gem tucked inside that makes sifting through all the other stuff worthwhile; and c) I get to share some of those gems with ya’ll (as my sister would say). Today’s edition was one such piece. Let me share with you just a couple of DesignShack’s long list of Alt key tricks in Photoshop.

Merge Visible to a New Layer
There are a couple of layer merging commands in Photoshop that I use a lot. Ctrl-E will merge two or more selected layers and Shift-Ctrl-E will merge all visible layers. The problem with using these commands is that the original layers are lost when they get mashed into one. But Alt-Shift-Ctrl-E creates a fully merged layer while maintaining all the original layers. That will be very useful.

Unlock the Background Layer
The background layer is locked. It always has been locked and it always will be locked. Right? Wrong! Hold the Alt key down as you double-click the background layer and it becomes unlocked. Free at last!

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