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Basic Photoshop Zoom and Hand Tool

To follow along, you can open any image in Photoshop. Here’s the image I’ll be using (playing little girl on floor portrait from Shutter Stock):

Playing little girl on floor

An image newly opened in Photoshop. Photo credit: Shutter Stock

Keyboard Shortcut: Z

Keyboard Shortcut: H

The hand & zoom tool are both essential tools for working on pictures & cooperate from various perspectives. I put the Zoom Tool and Hand Tool together because Options Bar for both Tools are very similar and the Hand Tool doesn’t require much explanation. They don’t perform a direct function like the paint tools, but they affect do affect the environment you are working in. They make it easier to find your way around your image and easier to use the pixel editing tools.

It seemed like a good way to show two different tools in one shot.

To start with, where to find the current zoom level in Photoshop. All things considered, before we go zooming in and out of an image, it helps to know what our current zoom level really is. Photoshop shows the current zoom level in two different areas. The first is in the document tab just above the picture. You’ll find the zoom level to the right of the file name. Here we see that my image is currently being viewed at the 50% view size:

The current zoom level appears in the tab above the document.

Second place to find current zoom level is in the bottom left corner of the document window. Again, it’s showing that I’m viewing my image at 50% of its actual size:

The same information is found in the bottom left corner.

To accept the change, press Enter on keyboard and Photoshop instantly jumps the image to the new zoom level

Changing The Zoom Level

Why are there two different places showing the same information? Well, the zoom level displayed in the document tab at the top is strictly for information purposes only. In other words, we can’t actually change the zoom level from the tab. But we can change the zoom level from the bottom left corner.

Let’s say I want to zoom in on my image by increasing my zoom level from 50% to 66.7%. To change the zoom level, click on the current level to highlight it. Then, enter your new value. I’ll click to highlight the “50” and I’ll change it to “66.7”. There’s no need to type in the percent symbol (%) because Photoshop includes it automatically:

Clicking on the current zoom level and entering the new value.

To accept the change, press Enter  on your keyboard and Photoshop instantly jumps the image to the new zoom level:

The image is now being displayed at the 50% view size.

Zooming In – Notice that on the top bar on the zoom tool’s options, there is a checkbox that says “Scrubby Zoom”. This implies when you click and hold down on your mouse cursor, Photoshop will continue zooming in on your photograph until the point when you let go. You can also click and drag on your photograph to zoom it in and bring the image closer to you until you quit dragging. To me, it feels like I am on some roller coaster. I personally like to just uncheck the “Scrubby Zoom” box and turn it off.

What happens now is that when you click and drag on your photo, it’s going to create a marquee and zoom in only on that particular part of the image that you want, instead of zooming in forever upon dragging the mouse. Now isn’t that much easier to use?

Zooming Out – If you want to return to the un-zoomed picture, you can always hit Ctrl-0 on your keyboard to have the image fit itself to the window size.

Zooming out is just as easy. You can either click on the icon on the options bar that shows a magnifying glass with a minus sign on it, or, with your magnifying glass icon set to the plus sign, you can simply hold down the Alt key. Holding down the alt key while using a plus-signed magnifying glass will change to a minus, and help you zoom out of your picture.

Shortcuts to Zoom and Scroll

Here are the Keyboard Shortcuts to Zoom and Scroll in Photoshop Elements that I have used for years in the Full Version of Photoshop.

To Change any Tool to the Zoom Tool:
Hold down Control and the Space Bar. Add the Alt key to zoom out.

To Zoom In:
Press Cntrl and +(plus).

To Zoom Out:
Press Cntrl and -(minus).

To go to 100% View:
Hold down Cntrl and Press 1.

To go to “Fit Screen” View:
Hold down Cntrl and Press 0.

To Change any Tool to the Hand Tool:
Hold down the Space Bar.

Hand tool: Once you have zoomed into your image you can use the hand tool (shortcut H) to move around. Click and drag and you’ll find you can move around the image in any direction.

Pressing the spacebar will turn whichever tool you have currently selected as the hand tool. This is a great way of being able to carry on working yet being able to carry on working yet being able to manoeuvre at the same time around the magnified image at the same time.

Hand Tool
Zoom Tool

The hand tool and zoom tool can be used as soon as you have loaded your picture into Photoshop. Under the options bar appeared above you will locate several useful commands.


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