Photoshop Toolbox Monday – Tools: The Move Tool

Photoshop Toolbox

In this first edition of Monday Tools, we’re going to take a look at one of the foundational and most used tools in our Photoshop Toolbox: the Move Tool.

When selected, either by clicking on its icon in the tool bar or by pressing the letter V, the  Move Tool can perform a number of functions in your workflow.

In no particular order, here are some of the many uses of the Move Tool – some are pretty familiar but even the more advanced users among us might find out something new here:

  • Repositioning layers within the document window.
  • While holding down the Shift key and dragging your mouse, you can constrain the movements of your selected layer(s) along either vertical, horizontal, or 45 degree lines.
  • While holding down the Alt/Option key, as we discussed in last Wednesday’s Layers post, you can duplicate the selected layer.
  • While holding down the Cmd/Ctrl key, you can auto-select the layer or group of layers under your cursor.
  • With the “Show Transform Controls” option checked, you can immediately Free Transform your current layer.
  • With the Move Tool selected, you can change the opacity of the current layer by typing in the value you want to set. To make it even easier, you can press 1 to set it to 10%, 2 for 20%, etc. all the way up to 0 to set the opacity to 100%.
  • By holding down the Shift key when typing in the numbers, you can adjust the Fill of the layer.
  • With multiple layers selected, the Move Tool will allow you to align the layers based on the bounds of the transform outline (top/bottom/left/right edges) or the horizontal or vertical centers. You can also distribute the layers evenly based on those same layer bounds.
  • When moving the contents of a layer using your arrow keys, holding down Shift will increase the number of pixels each press of the arrow key will move the layer from 1px at a time to 5px at a time.
  • While holding the Shift key and pressing either the + or – keys you can cycle through the layer blend modes.
  • As with all of the tools in your Photoshop Toolbox, at least in CS5, if you press and hold the letter for the Move Tool – “V” – you will be able to temporarily switch to the Move Tool regardless of what other tool you are currently working with.

How do you use the Move Tool? Do you have any tricks you’ve discovered that help with your workflow? Please share in the comments!

Also, if you have a question about anything in Photoshop that you would like me to answer during Friday’s Q&A, leave a comment below or email me at by Thursday.

  • Wladi

    Holding down Shift will increase the number of pixels each press of the arrow key will move the layer from 1px at a time to 10px at a time.

    February 7, 2013 at 11:54 am

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