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Beginner's Guide: How to Crop in Photoshop

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What You'll Be Creating

Do you want to know how to crop in Photoshop? Today we’re going to learn everything about cropping in Photoshop, from how to crop a photo in Photoshop to how to crop a GIF in Photoshop!

If you are looking for a free crop Photoshop alternative, take a look at Placeit's Free Image Cropper. It’s a great tool which can help you to crop your pictures right in your browser.

placeit free image crop toolplaceit free image crop toolplaceit free image crop tool

What You'll Learn in This Ultimate Guide to Cropping in Photoshop

  • How to crop a photo in Photoshop
  • How to use the Photoshop Crop to Selection function
  • How to crop an image in a circle shape in Photoshop
  • How to crop a picture in Photoshop using a clipping mask
  • How to crop an image in Photoshop without cropping the background using a layer mask
  • How to use a batch crop Photoshop action
  • How to crop a GIF in Photoshop

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this “How to crop in Photoshop ultimate guide”:

1. How to Crop a Photo in Photoshop

Step 1

Let’s start with an easy way to crop an item in Photoshop: the crop tool. Let’s open any image you want to use, and after that just hit C to activate the crop tool Photoshop function (you can also find it in the Tools panel).

how to activate the Crop tool in Photoshophow to activate the Crop tool in Photoshophow to activate the Crop tool in Photoshop

Step 2

Now all you need to do is drag the Markers of the Crop Frame which you can see on the screen to fit your purposes.

changing the size of the crop framechanging the size of the crop framechanging the size of the crop frame

Step 3

Finally, just press Enter (or hit the Check Mark in the Top Panel) and voila! This is how to crop out a background in Photoshop in a few moments!

finishing the croppingfinishing the croppingfinishing the cropping

2. How to Use the Photoshop Crop to Selection Function

Step 1

Let’s open any other image and then select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (or just press M).

how to activate rectangular marquee toolhow to activate rectangular marquee toolhow to activate rectangular marquee tool

Step 2

Now just make a selection of the area which you would like to crop with this tool.

making a selectionmaking a selectionmaking a selection

Step 3

Once you've finished with the selection, go to Image > Crop.

cropping the image to selectioncropping the image to selectioncropping the image to selection

Here's a result of the crop to selection method:

result of crop to selectionresult of crop to selectionresult of crop to selection

3. How to Crop an Image in a Circle Shape in Photoshop

Step 1

If you're wondering how to crop a circle in Photoshop, the answer is easy: use the same Marquee Tool as in previous steps, but this time select the Elliptical Marquee Tool. This can be useful for creating rounded avatars, so let's try this technique with a portrait.

selecting the elliptical marquee toolselecting the elliptical marquee toolselecting the elliptical marquee tool

Step 2

If you want to select a perfect circle, hold Shift while you create a selection.

creating a perfect circle selectioncreating a perfect circle selectioncreating a perfect circle selection

Step 3

Now let's go to Image > Crop and, as you can see, Photoshop cropped our image to a rectangle, which is not exactly what we need. I will show you how to avoid this in the next step.

cropping image to a circlecropping image to a circlecropping image to a circle

Step 4

To create a circle crop Photoshop layer, you need to press Control-X and then Control-V and then Delete the Background layer. In this way, we'll cut the circle from the background.

cutting the circle shape in Photoshopcutting the circle shape in Photoshopcutting the circle shape in Photoshop

4. How to Crop a Picture in Photoshop Using a Clipping Mask

Step 1

If you want to know how to crop a single layer in Photoshop, we can use a Clipping Mask for this purpose. So let's say we have a few layers in the document and we want to crop the second layer to a circle.

opening the document with two layersopening the document with two layersopening the document with two layers

Step 2

To crop an item in Photoshop with a clipping mask, you need to create a circle shape. Press U or select the Ellipse Tool and then create a shape above the area which you would like to cut.

creating a circle shapecreating a circle shapecreating a circle shape

Step 3

After that, put the Ellipse Layer below the photo and then Right Click > Create a Clipping Mask.

creating a clipping maskcreating a clipping maskcreating a clipping mask

Step 4

This method is non-destructive, so you can change the position of the mask just by moving the Ellipse layer, but don't hesitate to use the previous methods for a single-layer crop, as they will work as well.

moving the ellipse shapemoving the ellipse shapemoving the ellipse shape

5. How to Crop an Image in Photoshop Without Cropping the Background Using a Layer Mask

Step 1

Want to learn another way to crop an image in Photoshop without the background? Let's try a layer mask this time! Select the second layer and hit Add a Mask.

adding a layer maskadding a layer maskadding a layer mask

Step 2

Now select the Mask of the layer in the Layers panel and make a selection using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, as we did before.

adding a layer mask selection with rectangular marquee tooladding a layer mask selection with rectangular marquee tooladding a layer mask selection with rectangular marquee tool

Step 3

Once you've finished, hit Shift-Control-I (or go to Selection > Inverse) to invert the selection.

inverting the selectioninverting the selectioninverting the selection

Step 4

Press Shift-F5 (or go to Edit > Fill), set the Contents to Black, and hit OK.

filling the layer mask with black colorfilling the layer mask with black colorfilling the layer mask with black color

Step 5

And finally, just press Control-D (or go to Select > Deselect) to deselect.

cropped image with layer maskcropped image with layer maskcropped image with layer mask

6. How to Use a Batch Crop Photoshop Action

Step 1

If you need to crop a few files in one go, you can try this Auto Crop Photoshop Action from GraphicRiver. Let's try this action to circle crop Photoshop images.

auto crop image action promoauto crop image action promoauto crop image action promo

Step 2

First of all, you need to install the action. In the latest versions of Photoshop, you can do it just by opening the .atn file (Control-O or go to File > Open).

installing the photoshop actioninstalling the photoshop actioninstalling the photoshop action

If you want to learn more about Photoshop actions and how to install and use them, check out this amazing tutorial:

Step 3

Once you've installed an action, you can find it in the Actions panel (Window > Actions or Alt-F9). To use it for multiple files, you need to put all the pictures in one folder and then go to File > Automate > Batch.

opening batch settingsopening batch settingsopening batch settings

Step 4

In the newly opened window, select the Crop Image Set from the Set Picker and select Decrease - Shape (Circle) Crop.

setting up the batch automationsetting up the batch automationsetting up the batch automation

Step 5

Check the Suppress File Open Options Dialogs option and choose the Source Folder with your images and the Destination Folder where you want to save your results. After that, just press OK.

setting folders for batch automation setting folders for batch automation setting folders for batch automation

Here's a result of the batch crop action:

result of batch actionresult of batch actionresult of batch action

7. How to Crop a Layer in Photoshop if It's a GIF File

Step 1

Let's try to crop a GIF in Photoshop. Open your GIF file in Photoshop and then go to Window > Timeline, to see all the frames.

opening the timelineopening the timelineopening the timeline

Step 2

After that, you can use any of the previous methods to crop the image. Let's use the free crop Photoshop tool, so press C and crop the image as you like.

cropping the gif in Photoshopcropping the gif in Photoshopcropping the gif in Photoshop

As you can see, all the frames of our GIF animation are cropped, so there is no big difference between cropping static images and GIF files.

cropped gif animationcropped gif animationcropped gif animation

Awesome Work: Today You've Learned How to Crop a Layer in Photoshop

Today we've covered everything about how to crop a photo in Photoshop, from a simple crop to making a selection to using clipping masks. Let's consolidate all our knowledge into a list:

How to Free Crop in Photoshop

  • How to free crop in Photoshop: you can do it with the Crop Tool (C), which you can find in the Tools panel.
  • How to crop a single layer in Photoshop using the crop to selection: all you need to do is use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the area you want to crop, and go to Image > Crop.
  • How to crop a circle in Photoshop: use the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the Tools panel and press Control-X > Control-V.
  • How to crop one layer in Photoshop with a clipping mask: create any shape you want and put it below the layer, and then Right Click on the top layer and select Create a Clipping Mask.
  • How to crop an image in Photoshop without a background using a layer mask: add a layer mask to your layer, select the area on the mask with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (C), and then hit Shift-Control-I to invert the selection and Fill it with black.
  • How to crop multiple images: use a Photoshop action and the Batch function.
  • How to crop a layer in Photoshop if it's a GIF: you can do it just the same way as with static images, so try the Crop Tool (C) or the crop to selection method.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and if you want to learn even more about how to crop a layer in Photoshop, feel free to check our other tutorials:

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