Photoshop tutorial: How to crop a photo in Photoshop

Our beginner's guide continues with a look at how to crop an image in Photoshop.

You might want to crop an image if you've taken a brilliant photo but there's just too much space around the subject, for example. Or, if you've got a particular size and shape that you want your image to be, you can use the Crop Tool to achieve this.

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First, you'll need to open the image you want to crop in Photoshop. Here, we're using Photoshop CC, which features the Crop Tool updates first introduced in the Creative Cloud release of Photoshop CS6. We're also using a photograph of a sleepy parrot to illustrate.

Note: If you're using an older version of Photoshop, you'll find that, while the basis of this tutorial still applies, your Crop Tool may look different and have different capabilities.

For example, the Crop Tools in Photoshop CC and Photoshop CS6 are non-destructive, which means you can choose to retain cropped pixels rather then remove them completely.

For tips on how to crop images in Photoshop CS5 or earlier, take a look at Adobe's Photoshop Help.


Choose the Crop tool

Once you've opened your image, you'll need to select the Crop Tool from the toolbar

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Choose your cropping area

You can either draw a new cropping area by clicking and dragging where you want it to be, or you can drag the corner and edge handles to resize the crop area from the area automatically chosen when you switched to the Crop Tool.

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Use the control bar to specify crop options

To help you crop the image in exactly the way you want to, you can use the control bar to choose crop options.

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If you want to contrain your crop, you can use the drop down menu to choose whether you want to crop your image based on a ratio or size, and there are several presets here that you can pick from.

Alternatively, after selecting Ratio or W x H x Resolution from the menu, you can input the values you want to crop to in the boxes beside the drop down menu.



If you choose Ratio, type your preferred ratio into the two boxes. For example, typing 1 into the first box and 1 (a 1:1 ratio) into the second box will give you a square cropping area.

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If you've chosen W x H x Resolution (size) then you'll also need to type in your values, but this time into three boxes. The first box is the width you want your image to be, and the second is the height. Both of these will automatically assume you want those values to be in centimetres (cm), but if you want pixels, you'll need to type px next to your value.

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The third and final box is the resolution. You can choose whether you want this value to be measured in pixels per centimetre (px/cm) or pixels per inch (ppi).

You can press the arrows in-between the two boxes to swap the width and height values.

The clear button will remove all values you have entered into the boxes.

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Choose an overlay to help you crop

Next, we'll take a look at the views button (it looks like a little grid), which lets you choose which overlay guides you would prefer to see when you're cropping images. You can choose between Rule of Thirds, Grid, Diagonal, Triangle, Golden Ratio and Golden Spiral.

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If you would prefer not to see a grid at all, you can tick Never Show Overlay.

Additionally, you can cycle through the overlays by pressing O on your keyboard.


Change the cog settings to suit your preference

The cog, which is the Settings button, lets you specify additional crop options. From there, you can choose to use Classic mode, which will take you back to the Crop tool that was found in previous versions of Photoshop, so may be more familiar to some.

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If you would prefer not to see the part of your image that is about to be cropped out, you can untick Show Cropped Area here. You can also untick Auto Center Preview, although we find this feature helpful.

Enabling the crop shield means you'll be able to see the cropped area but it will be dulled out. If you untick this option, you'll see the cropped area as brightly as the rest of the image. Here, you can adjust the crop shield to suit your preference.


Make the Crop Tool non-destructive

If you've got Delete Cropped Pixels ticked, it will mean that anything outside of your cropping area will be gone when you apply the crop.

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However, if you untick Delete Cropped Pixels, Photoshop will keep the trimmed areas of your image as part of the documents in case you change your mind and want to bring them back later.

Straighten your image

You may have also spotted the Straighten button, which lets you straighten up your image during cropping.

To use it, make sure you've got the button selected and then click and drag within your image. You'll notice that you're drawing a line.

If your photograph is of a building but it you've not got it quite straight, for example, you can click and drag this line so that it is following the line of the building in your image, and it will then twist your image to make that line perfectly horizontal.

Alternatively, you can click outside of the cropped area to rotate your image manually.

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Crop your image

Now, if you're happy with the way your image looks within the cropped area, you can apply the crop by clicking the tick button.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials