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How to Crop an Image in Photoshop

Published: 22/11/2021

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Does your photo have excess borders or unwanted sections on the sides that you want to crop out? And are you having difficulty when using the photoshop app? Well, worry not; in this article, I will give you an overview of how to crop an image in photoshop. 

How to Crop an Image in Photoshop

Cropping is the process of removing unwanted portions of an image or photo. Cropping improves framing or composition, draws a viewer's eye to the image subject, or changes the size or aspect ratio. 

Now that you already know what cropping is, let us dive into how to crop an image in photoshop.

What Tool to Use When Cropping in Photoshop

Most versions of the photoshop apps work more or less the same, and so for this, we will use the latest version of Photoshop as an example, Photoshop 2021. Photoshop comes with inbuilt tools to help with various editing tasks such as cropping. For this, we use a tool called the crop tool.

How to Crop Images With the Crop Tool

As stated above, in photoshop, you can use a crop tool. So, how do we maneuver to the crop tool? 

  1. From the toolbar, select the Crop Tool. The photo's crop borders appear on the edges.
  2. Drag the corner and edge handles to draw a new cropping area or update the crop boundaries in your photo.
  3. (Optional) On the Control bar, you can specify a crop option.
A person editing an image using Photoshop

Choosing a Crop tool

The crop tool is found in the toolbar area. It is the one that looks like a square with extended lines on the upper left and lower right corners. You can also select the crop tool from your keyboard by pressing the letter C.

How to Reset the Crop Tool

To reset the crop tool to its default settings: 

  1. Right-click on the tool icon ( if you are using a Windows PC) or control-click the tool icon (if you are using a mac computer).
  2. From here, choose the Reset Tool from the menu, and this will reset the aspect ratio to ratio and leave the width and height boxes empty. 

Crop Border

The crop border is the area enclosed by the four crop lines. It shows what is kept and what will be deleted during the cropping process. The area within the lines is maintained, and the area outside the lines is deleted.

The Cropping Border

After you've selected the crop tool, Photoshop draws a crop border around the picture. If you have used this before, photoshop will still save your previous settings here. You can reuse the same settings if you want to, also worry not if you're going to use new settings.

How to Reset the Crop Border

Resetting the crop tool does not reset the cropping border. From the toolbar, choose another tool, after which you select the crop tool to reset the crop border. After this, the cropping border will surround the entire image.

Another way to reset the crop border without canceling the crop altogether:

  1. Go to the toolbar
  2. Click the reset button. This looks like an arrow curved towards the left. 

Clicking this will reset the crop border.

How to Resize the Crop Border

If you look at the top, bottom, left, and right of your photo, as well as all the corners, you will notice small crop handles.

  1. Click and drag these to reshape the crop border into your desired size.
  2. As discussed above, the area inside the border is what you will keep, and you crop away the area outside the border.

How to Cancel the Crop

To cancel a crop without applying it, click the cancel button in the options bar. This looks like a crossed-out circle.

Crop to Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height in an image. This helps to maintain a specific size for your image. This can be helpful when creating edits for images like portraits, Instagram photos, TikTok photos, where a particular aspect ratio is best.

How to Crop an Image to a Specific Aspect Ratio

Now that you understand the aspect ratio, how do we set this in photoshop? You can set this in the options bar to crop to a specific aspect ratio like 6 * 7 or 3 * 5. After you click the aspect ratio, there is a list of presets like 1:1(square), 4:5(8:10), 5:7, 2:3(4:6), and so on. 

Photoshop has a lot of options that can change to suit your needs. One option is the aspect ratio, which lets you switch between portrait and landscape without doing any math or calculations by changing just two values in settings.

Choosing a Custom Aspect Ratio

You can manually enter the aspect ratio you want if it isn’t in the preset list. Click inside the height and width boxes and type in your desired ratios. 

For example; if you want 3.5 * 8.5 as your aspect ratios:

  1. Click on the width box and type in your value (3.5)
  2. Then click on the height box or press the tab key on your keyboard to jump over to the height box and type in your value (8.5)
A camera lens beside a laptop with Photoshop application

How to Save a Custom Crop Preset

If you intend to use the custom preset you used more frequently, you can save it as a new custom preset. 

  1. Click the aspect ratio options in the options bar.
  2. From this drop-down menu, choose New crop preset.
  3. You can name your preset however you want. After this, click OK to close the dialogue box. 

So now, the next time you need to use this preset, go ahead and choose it from the preset list.

How to Lock the Aspect Ratio of the Crop Border

By default, Photoshop allows us to freely resize the crop border without regard to the aspect ratio. To maintain the aspect ratio of your photo:

  1. Press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard
  2. You then drag any of the corner handles. This locks the aspect ratio in place.

How to Clear the Aspect Ratio

After entering the specific aspect ratio, you may go back and freely resize the crop border. After doing so, clear the aspect ratio by:

  1. Clicking the Clear button on the toolbar.
  2. From here, you can then drag the handles independently.

How to Reposition the Image Inside the Crop Border

Click and drag inside the border to reposition the image. The crop border size will not change, though instead, the image will move around inside it. You can also straighten your image while cropping.

How to Commit the Crop

After you are satisfied with your image:

  1. Click the check mark in the options bar. This will save the new cropped image. 
  2. You can also do this by Pressing enter (for windows) or Return (for Mac).

Checking Image Size

It is good to confirm if our changes have been saved. To check the size and resolution of your cropped image;

  1. Go up to the Image menu and choose Image Size. 
  2. Here we go to the Image Size dialog box, and we can see if photoshop has cropped it to our specifications. 
  3. If yes, click Cancel to close the dialog box.

You can now save your work if satisfied and leave the application. However, if not, you can undo everything and start over.

How to Undo the Crop

To undo your applied crop on the image:

  1. Go to the edit menu, and from the drop-down, choose to undo crop. 
  2. Alternatively, you can press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z(for windows) or Command+Z(for Mac).

Here is a link to a video lesson, "Cropping Images," that will show how to crop images in Photoshop. 


For real estate photographers, PFRE (Photography For Real Estate) is a resource for teaching the industry all about photography, So now you have learned how to crop an image in photoshop. You now know about the presets, custom ratios, locking the ratio, clearing/resetting aspects ratios, repositioning the image inside crop border, and also committing or saving your changes. 

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