How to Use the Photoshop Crop Tool

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Uses of the Photoshop Crop Tool

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The Photoshop crop tool serves two main purposes. The first is to crop, which means to cut out an area of an image by selecting the area that you wish to keep. It is also handy for quickly resizing images. These functions can also be used at the same time to crop and resize a photo (or any type of image) at once.
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Open an Image

Open an Image
Open an Image.
To practice with the crop tool, open an image in Photoshop; click “File>Open,” browse for the image on your computer, and click “Open.” For the purposes of this tutorial, a photo will work well, though any type of image will do.
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Choose the Crop Tool

Choose the Crop Tool
Choose the Crop Tool.
Click on the crop tool icon on the Photoshop toolbar (pictured). You can also use the keyboard shortcut “c.” When you roll over your photo, the cursor will resemble the crop tool icon, unless you have your cursors set to “precise” in the Photoshop preferences.
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Select the Crop Area

Select the Crop Area
Select the Crop Area.

Position your cursor where you want to start your crop, which will depend on what you want to cut out of your photo. Left-click and drag to select the area that you want to remain in your photo. If you want to adjust the starting point of your crop, you can hold down the spacebar to move the selected area, then release it to continue drawing your crop square.

Remember the area you are selecting is the part of the photo that will be kept…the rest will be removed. Release the mouse button to finish selecting your crop area. You can now click and drag your crop square to move it, and drag the corners to adjust it. To cancel the crop, hit the “Esc” key on your keyboard.

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Crop the Photo

The Cropped Photo
The Cropped Photo.
Notice that the area outside of your crop is darker. This will be “cut out” when you crop your photo. To complete the crop, double-click inside of your crop area or hit the “enter” key on your keyboard. You are left with your newly cropped photo.
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Resizing Images with the Crop Tool

Enter Your Dimensions
Enter Your Dimensions.

The crop tool is also handy for resizing images, without using the “Image>Image Size…” command. With the crop tool still selected, notice the toolbar at the top of your screen has blank fields for width, height and resolution (pictured). You can fill these fields in with dimensions of your choice, then crop the image to immediately resize it to those dimensions. For example, enter a width of “300 px” and a height of “200 px” with a resolution of “72.” Try to crop your photo and notice the aspect ratio is stuck to fit your dimensions. Finish the crop and you have a 72 dpi 300x200 photo. Here you are achieving both a crop and a resize in one step. You can also fill in only one or two of these fields, allowing you to crop photos to a specific width or height and let the other dimension work out for itself.

You can also enter inches by using the abbreviation “in” instead of “px.” This is helpful for cropping a photo to a common size for printing, such as 4x6 inches at 300 dpi. Remember you don’t actually have to crop anything out of your photo to use this resize function…simply enter your dimensions and select the entire image with your crop tool, and it will still be resized. Be careful about selecting dimensions that are larger than your actual photo, which would result in a loss of image quality.

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Your Citation
Miller, Eric. "How to Use the Photoshop Crop Tool." ThoughtCo, Feb. 24, 2016, Miller, Eric. (2016, February 24). How to Use the Photoshop Crop Tool. Retrieved from Miller, Eric. "How to Use the Photoshop Crop Tool." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 13, 2017).