Photoshop CS6 & CC’s innovative new Crop Tool


10/05/20 – This post has been updated here:



So, you’ve used previous versions of Photoshop, and now you’ve got CS6.   You’re ready to crop your image, and – – “Whaaa?! #%&*  – Egads! Crop1_CS6_03-13 This new Crop Tool is really different!”  Yes, it is – but once you know how it works and get used to it, you’ll never want to go back.


The Crop Tool allows you to crop to a portion of an image to enhance the subject matter, remove an unwanted object, or improve your composition.

Where to Find:

You can find the Crop Tool in the Tools Panel, or by pressing its Speed Key, which is “C”.


Crop Handles / Crop Box / Aspect Ratio:

Crop3_CS6_03-131)  When you first activate the Crop Tool, you’ll notice the Crop Handles at the four corners of your image, as well as one on each side, creating a Crop Box (the area to be cropped). By default, the Aspect Ratio (discussed shortly) is Unconstrained (not a defined crop size), which is why the Crop box starts on the outside edge of your image.

2)  Click on a handle, hold the left mouse button down and drag the handles to the desired shape.  When a constrained crop size is chosen, such as an 8×10, your Aspect Ratio remains the same, no matter which handle you drag and move.

3)  You’ll notice that your mouse cursor changes to a double-headed arrow when you hover over any handle – you’re now ready to click, hold and drag to create your Crop BoxCrop4_CS6_03-13

4)  In addition, hovering slightly outside the Crop Box at any handle will change the cursor to a 90-degree double-sided arrow – now you can easily rotate your image inside the Crop Box by clicking and dragging.

5)  It’s also possible to “free from” your crop, like in previous versions of Photoshop.  Put your mouse cursor anywhere in your image, hold down the left mouse button, and drag up or down to a diagonal opposite from where you started, such as Top Left to Bottom Right, and so on.  Let off of your mouse button.  This creates the Crop Box.


Moving your image in the Crop Box:

**  Crop5_CS6_03-13Unlike previous versions of Photoshop, the Crop Box remains stationary, and your image moves inside the defined Crop Box, NOT the other way around.

**  Simply click and drag anywhere inside the Crop Box to reposition your image.  You can also use the Arrow Keys on your keyboard for minute adjustments.

**  It’s also possible to move your image outside of the Crop Box, such as the black area to the top and left of the sample image to the right.


What’s in the Options Bar?



**  Presets:  When you click on the Crop Presets drop-down menu triangle, a series of preset crop sizes will show up.  Choose one if you desire, or fill in your desired width, height, and resolution in the “Size and Resolution“ dialog box and create your own (discussed shortly).

**  Aspect Ratio: Crop6_CS6_03-13 Unlike previous versions of Photoshop, filling in the values in the boxes to the right of this drop-down menu does NOT necessarily set your actual crop size and resolution – only the aspect ratio.  I rarely use this, preferring to use the Size and Resolution option instead (discussed next).

**  Size and Resolution:  If you’ve got a particular width, height, and resolution in mind, you’ll get more accurate results using this – It’s found under the “Aspect Ratio” drop-down menu.  You also have the option of saving this as a preset by checking the appropriate box.Crop7_CS6_03-13

**  Orientation: You can switch the width and height values by clicking here.

**  Straighten: Here’s where you can  straighten your horizon (or a vertical) easily.

**  View / Overlay: Crop8_CS6_03-13 Here’s an easy way to judge your crop properly with an overlay.  By default, the overlay is the “Rule of Thirds” (see sample image below) – check out the other views.  If you need to remove the overlay, just click on “Never Show Overlay”.

**  Options / Crop Shield:   The Crop Shield helps you visualize what your final crop will look like before committing to it.  See the image sample below for an example of the Crop Shield enabled with a 50% Opacity.

**  Reset:  Pressing this resets the Crop Box, Aspect Ratio, Width, Height and Resolution settings, bringing your Crop Box back to “Unconstrained”.

**  Cancel: This completely cancels the current crop operation, and you will lose all settings.

**  Crop9_CS6_03-13Commit:  Once you have everything set the way you want it, pressing the “check” symbol commits to the current crop operation.

**  “Classic Mode”:  If you don’t like the new Crop Tool, simply check “Use Classic Mode” from the Options drop-down menu.  You’ll then be able to adjust the Crop Box without the image moving underneath.



Did you find this post helpful?  This is straight out of my new Photoshop CC  book – Check it out – Click here


John  icon smile Setting up your Photoshop CS6 Workspace with Panels



3 thoughts on “Photoshop CS6 & CC’s innovative new Crop Tool

  1. Hi John,

    I’ve heard you speak before at various SD camera clubs. I came across your blog about cropping in CS6 when I was searching for a solution to a cropping woe. I like to crop precisely by using the arrow keys on my keyboard, but sometimes I’ll press them and nothing happens. The only way I can crop when that happens is by using my mouse to move the image around, and I end up with the crop being off enough that a solid black line, for example, is visible along the bottom edge of my photo. Then I have to start over again. Very annoying and time consuming. Do you know of some way for me to get the arrow keys to work?


  2. Hi Ann, thx for writing, and yes, there is, I use those arrow keys all the time! To activate them, simply click once at the top of the Document Window (click on the file name), and voila! If you change your crop box size / dimensions, you’ll need to go back and click on the name again, but it’s a small price to pay for accuracy. Hope to see you soon, and thanks again! Cheers, JW 🙂

  3. Thanks, John. I’m so glad to know how to activate the arrow keys. I have another crop tool question. Just recently, my crop tool in CS6 started acting weird. When I activate it, for example at a particular sized crop, whatever part of the image is outside that crop disappears. In the past, I’ve been able to see what’s outside, though fainter, so that I can easily figure out where I want to set the crop within the image. Now it’s awkward because I can’t see the rest of the image. I have to move the crop to see what’s there. I don’t think I changed any preferences, but I suppose it’s possible. I’m at a loss.

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