How To Crop Images In Photoshop CC

How To Crop Images In Photoshop CC – Complete Guide

Learn everything you need to know about cropping images with the Crop Tool, including how to crop images non-destructively, in the latest version of Photoshop!

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I show you how to crop images, how to straighten images, and how to crop an image non-destructively with Photoshop CC! We'll start with the basics and learn how to crop images using the Crop Tool. Then we'll learn how to straighten an image with the Crop Tool. And finally, we'll look at a great feature, first introduced in Photoshop CS6, that lets you crop an image without losing any of the original pixels. We've got a lot to cover, so let's get started!

How to crop images with the Crop Tool

We'll start with the basics. Here's the first image I'll be using. I downloaded this one from Adobe Stock:

The image that will be cropped. Photo credit: Adobe Stock
The original image. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Selecting the Crop Tool

To crop an image in Photoshop, we use the Crop Tool. I'll select it from the Toolbar. You can also select the Crop Tool from your keyboard by pressing the letter C:

Selecting the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Selecting the Crop Tool.

As soon as you select the Crop Tool, Photoshop places a cropping border around the image. And if you've used the Crop Tool on a previous image, the border will be set to that previous size. So before we go any further, let's reset the Crop Tool to its default settings.

In the Options Bar, we see that I cropped my last image as an 8 x 10. We'll look at these options in more detail in moment:

The previous Crop Tool settings in the Options Bar in Photoshop
Photoshop automatically loads the previous Crop Tool settings.

And in the document, we see that the cropping border is set to that 8 x 10 aspect ratio:

The cropping border in Photoshop is set to the previous aspect ratio
The cropping border is set to the previous aspect ratio.

How to reset the Crop Tool

To clear the previous settings and restore the Crop Tool to its defaults, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the tool icon in the Options Bar:

The Crop Tool icon in the Options Bar in Photoshop
Right-clicking (Win) / Control-clicking (Mac) on the tool icon.

And then choose Reset Tool from the menu:

Resetting the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Resetting the Crop Tool.

This resets the Aspect Ratio to just Ratio and leaves the Width and Height boxes empty:

The default Crop Tool settings in Photoshop
The default Crop Tool settings.

Related: How to reset your tools and Toolbar in Photoshop CC

The problem is that it doesn't reset the cropping border itself, which is still set to that previous 8 x 10 size:

Resetting the Crop Tool options in Photoshop did not reset the cropping border
Resetting the Crop Tool options did not reset the cropping border.

To reset the border, press the Esc key on your keyboard. Then, if you can't see the border, select a different tool from the Toolbar (any tool will do), and then reselect the Crop Tool. The cropping border now surrounds the entire image:

The cropping border in Photoshop now surrounds the entire image
The cropping border itself has been reset.

Resizing the crop border

If you look around the border, you'll see little handles. There's one on the top, bottom, left and right, and one in each corner:

The handles around the crop border in Photoshop
The handles around the crop border.

The easiest way to crop your image is to click and drag the handles to reshape the border into any size you need. The area inside the border is what you'll be keeping, and the area outside it will be cropped away:

Dragging the handles to resize the crop border around the image
Dragging the handles to resize the border.

Moving the image inside the crop border

You can also click and drag inside the border to reposition the image inside it:

Dragging the image inside the crop border
Dragging the image inside the crop border.

How to cancel the crop

I'm going to cancel my crop so we can look at another way to work. To cancel it, click the Cancel button in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Cancel button for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Clicking the Cancel button.

Drawing your own crop border

Instead of using the initial crop border that Photoshop places around the image, you can also click anywhere inside the image and drag out your own border:

Clicking and dragging a crop border manually in Photoshop
Clicking and dragging a crop border manually.

Then, drag the handles to resize it, or click and drag inside the border to reposition the image:

Adjusting the crop after drawing the border.
Adjusting the crop after drawing the border.

Resetting the crop

To reset your crop, rather than canceling out of it completely, click the Reset button in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Reset button for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Clicking the Reset button.

How to lock the aspect ratio of the crop border

By default, Photoshop lets us resize the crop border freely, without caring about the aspect ratio. But if you want to keep the original aspect ratio of your image, press and hold your Shift key as you drag any of the corner handles. This locks the aspect ratio in place:

Locking the original aspect ratio of the crop in Photoshop
Hold Shift and drag a corner handle to lock the aspect ratio of the crop.

I'll click the Reset button to reset my crop:

Clicking the Reset button for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Clicking the Reset button.

How to resize the crop border from its center

If you want to resize the border from its center, press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key as you drag the handles:

Resizing the crop border from its center in Photoshop
Hold Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) to resize the crop border from its center.

Again I'll click the Reset button to reset it:

Resetting the crop in Photoshop
Resetting the crop.

How to lock the aspect ratio and resize from center

And to lock the aspect ratio and resize the border from its center, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) as you drag the corner handles:

Locking the aspect ratio and resizing the crop border from center in Photoshop
Hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) to lock the aspect ratio and resize from center.

How to crop an image to a specific aspect ratio

What if there's a specific aspect ratio you need? Maybe you want to print the image so that it fits within a certain frame size, like 5 x 7 or 8 x 10. In that case, you can set the aspect ratio in the Options Bar.

Choosing a preset aspect ratio

For standard aspect ratios like 8 x 10, click the Aspect Ratio option:

Opening the Aspect Ratio menu for the Crop Tool in the Options Bar
Clicking the Aspect Ratio option in the Options Bar.

And then choose from a list of presets, like 1:1 for a square, or 8:10, 4:6, and so on. I'll choose 8:10:

Choosing 8x10 from the Aspect Ratio menu in Photoshop
Choosing 8:10 from the Aspect Ratio menu.

Photoshop enters the aspect ratio into the Width and Height boxes. It actually enters 4 x 5, which is the same as 8 x 10:

The preset aspect ratio is entered into the settings
The preset is entered into the settings.

And as soon as I select it, my cropping border jumps to the 8 x 10 ratio:

The crop border switches to the 8 x 10 aspect ratio in Photoshop
The crop border instantly switches to the chosen aspect ratio.

Swapping the orientation

To swap the Width and Height values, click the swap icon (the arrows) between them:

Swapping the Width and Height values for the Crop Tool's aspect ratio in Photoshop
Swapping the Width and Height values.

This lets you easily switch between Portrait and Landscape mode:

The crop border has switched from Portrait to Landscape orientation in Photoshop
The crop border updates with the new orientation.

Choosing a custom aspect ratio

If the aspect ratio you need isn't found in the presets, you can enter it manually. Let's say I want to crop my image as an 11 x 14, and I want it to be in Landscape mode so that the width is larger than the height. I would click inside the Width box and enter 14. Then I would press the Tab key on my keyboard to jump over to the Height, and I'd enter 11:

Entering a custom aspect ratio for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Entering a custom aspect ratio.

Photoshop instantly resizes the crop border to the 11 x 14 ratio:

The crop border is now resized to the new aspect ratio in Photoshop
The border is now set to the new ratio.

I can then resize the border by dragging the handles. Since we've set the aspect ratio in the Options Bar, Photoshop will automatically lock the ratio as you drag, so there's no need to hold Shift. But you can still hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key to resize the border from its center:

Resizing the 11x14 crop border in Photoshop
Resizing the crop border.

How to save a custom crop preset

If you know that you'll need to use the same aspect ratio again, you can save it as a custom preset. Click the Aspect Ratio option in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Aspect Ratio option in the Options Bar
Clicking the Aspect Ratio option in the Options Bar.

And in the menu, choose New Crop Preset:

Choosing the New Crop Preset option for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Choosing "New Crop Preset".

Give the preset a name. I'll name mine "11 x 14 Landscape". Then click OK to close the dialog box:

Naming the new custom preset for the Crop Tool
Naming the new preset.

The next time I need it, I can quickly select it from the list:

The new custom aspect ratio for the Crop Tool
The new custom preset is added to the menu.

Clearing the aspect ratio

If you've entered a specific aspect ratio and want to go back to resizing the crop border freely, clear the aspect ratio by clicking the Clear button:

Clearing the Crop Tool aspect ratio settings in Photoshop
Clearing the current aspect ratio settings.

You can then drag the handles independently:

Resizing the crop border without setting an aspect ratio in Photoshop
Resizing the crop border without being locked to an aspect ratio.

How to crop to a specific image size and resolution

So far, we've been cropping to a general aspect ratio, or a general shape. But you can also use the Crop Tool to crop your image to a specific size and resolution. To do that, open the Aspect Ratio menu:

Opening the Aspect Ratio menu for the Crop Tool in the Options Bar
Opening the Aspect Ratio menu.

And then choose W x H x Resolution (Width, Height and Resolution):

Choosing W x H x Resolution for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Choosing "W x H x Resolution" from the menu.

Let's say that, instead of cropping my image to an 11 x 14 aspect ratio, I want to crop it so that it will print at a specific size of 11 x 14 inches. Since I want the width to be larger than the height, I'll click inside the Width field and I'll enter 14. But instead of just entering the number, I'll also enter "ïn" (for "inches"). Then I'll press the Tab key on my keyboard to jump to the Height field, and I'll enter 11 in for the height:

Entering a specific width and height, in inches, for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Entering a specific size for the width and height, in inches.

The Resolution value

Notice that we now have a third box as well, and this is where we enter a Resolution value. Since the industry standard resolution for high quality printing is 300 pixels per inch, I'll enter 300 into the box, and I'll make sure that the measurement type is set to px/inch (pixels per inch):

Entering a print resolution of 300 pixels per inch for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Entering a print resolution of 300 pixels per inch.

With my settings entered, I'll resize the crop border:

Cropping the image to a print size of 11 x 14 inches in Photoshop
Cropping the image to a print size of 11 x 14 inches.

Cropping the image

And then, to crop the image, I'll click the checkmark in the Options Bar. You can also crop it by pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac):

Cropping the image with the Crop Tool by clicking the checkmark in the Options Bar
Cropping the image by clicking the checkmark.

Photoshop crops the image. I'll press and hold my spacebar and I'll drag the image into view so we can see it:

The image has been cropped in Photoshop
The image after accepting the crop.

Checking the image size

And if we check the size of the image by going up to the Image menu and choosing the Image Size command:

Opening the Image Size command to check to crop size in Photoshop
Going to Image > Image Size.

We see in the dialog box that Photoshop has cropped the image to 14 x 11 inches at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. We'll be learning all about image resizing in separate tutorials. So for now, I'll click Cancel to close the dialog box:

Confirming the cropped image size in the Image Size dialog box in Photoshop
Confirming the new crop size in the Image Size dialog box.

How to undo the crop

To undo the crop, I'll go up to the Edit menu and I'll choose Undo Crop. Or I could press the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac):

Undoing the crop in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Undo Crop.

This returns the image to its original size. I'll press Ctrl+0 (Win) / Command+0 (Mac) on my keyboard to fit the image on the screen, and then I'll zoom out a little bit by holding the Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key and pressing the minus key ( - ):

The original image size after undoing the crop in Photoshop
The image is back to its original size.

The crop overlay

Before we move on to learning how to straighten an image, let's look at one more handy feature of the Crop Tool, and that's the crop overlay. I'll click on my image with the Crop Tool to bring up the cropping border. And notice the 3 x 3 grid that appears inside the border. This grid is known as the Rule of Thirds:

The Rule of Thirds grid for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
The 3 x 3 "Rule of Thirds" grid inside the crop border.

The Rule of Thirds

The idea with the Rule of Thirds is that you can create a more interesting composition by placing your subject at, or near, one of the spots where the grid lines intersect:

Composing the crop using the Rule of Thirds grid in Photoshop
Composing the crop using the Rule of Thirds grid.

Choosing a different overlay

While the Rule of Thirds overlay can be useful, it's not the only one that's available to us. To view the others, click the Overlay icon in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Overlay icon in the Crop Tool options in Photoshop
Clicking the Overlay icon.

Here, we can choose a different overlay, like Golden Ratio:

Choosing the Golden Ratio grid overlay for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Choosing the Golden Ratio grid overlay.

The Golden Ratio is similar to the Rule of Thirds, but the intersection points are closer to the center. You can cycle through the overlays from your keyboard by pressing the letter O:

Composing the crop using the Golden Ratio overlay for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Composing the crop using the Golden Ratio overlay.

Finally, another way to crop your image is to just double-click inside the crop border:

The image cropped using the Golden Ratio in Photoshop
The image cropped using the Golden Ratio.

And that's the basics of how to crop an image with the Crop Tool!

Related: How to crop images in a circle!

How to straighten an image with the Crop Tool

Let's look at a different image so we can learn how to straighten a photo with the Crop Tool. Here's an image I shot myself, and notice that the horizon line is crooked:

A crooked image that needs to be straightened with the Crop Tool in Photoshop
The horizon line shows that the image is slanted.

To straighten the image, I'll select the Crop Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Selecting the Crop Tool.

The Straighten Tool

And then, in the Options Bar, I'll select the Straighten Tool:

Selecting the Straighten Tool in Photoshop
Selecting the Straighten Tool.

How to use the Straighten Tool

With the Straighten Tool, look for something in your image that should be straight, either vertically or horizontally. In my case, it's the horizon line. Click on one end, keep your mouse button held down, and drag over to the other end. Photoshop draws a path between the two points, and it uses this path to determine the angle that the image needs to be rotated:

Dragging a line across the horizon with the Straighten Tool in Photoshop
Dragging a line across the horizon with the Straighten Tool.

Release your mouse button, and Photoshop rotates the image to straighten it. And because rotating the image added some transparent areas in the corners of the document (transparency is represented by a checkerboard pattern), Photoshop also resized the crop border to keep those transparent corners out of the image:

Photoshop straightens the image and resizes the crop border
Photoshop straightens the image and resizes the crop border.

At this point, I can resize the crop border myself if I need to:

Manually resizing the crop border after straightening the image in Photoshop
Manually resizing the crop border after straightening the image.

And then to accept the crop, I'll press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac):

How to crop and straighten images in Photoshop
The image after straightening and cropping it.

And that's how to straighten an image with the Crop Tool. I cover more ways to straighten an image in a separate tutorial.

How to crop images non-destructively

And finally, let's switch over to a third image so we can look at a great feature in Photoshop that lets us crop our images non-destructively. I downloaded this image from Adobe Stock:

The image that will be cropped non-destructively in Photoshop
The original image. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Again, I'll select the Crop Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Selecting the Crop Tool.

In the Options Bar, I'll choose the 8 x 10 aspect ratio preset:

Choosing the 8 x 10 aspect ratio preset for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Choosing the 8 x 10 preset.

And then I'll resize my crop border by dragging the top handle downward. I'll hold Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as I drag to resize the border from its center:

Resizing the crop border in Photoshop
Resizing the crop border.

To crop the image, I'll press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on my keyboard:

An image cropped as an 8 x 10 in Photoshop
The initial 8 x 10 crop.

Deleting the cropped pixels

So far, so good. But what if I decide at this point that I want to change the crop? Maybe I want to change its orientation from Portrait to Landscape. In that case, I'll go up to the Options Bar and I'll swap the aspect ratio by clicking the swap icon:

Swapping the aspect ratio width and height
Swapping the width and height of the aspect ratio.

Photoshop again places the crop border around the image:

Swapping the aspect ratio width and height
Swapping the width and height of the aspect ratio.

I don't want to be cropped in so close, so I'll drag the handles outward to bring back more of the background:

Resizing the crop border after the initial crop with the Crop Tool
Resizing the border after the initial crop.

But notice that when I release my mouse button, instead of seeing more of the image, Photoshop just fills the surrounding area with white:

The area around the original crop is filled with white
The area around the original crop is filled with white.

That's because Photoshop deleted all of those surrounding pixels when I made my original crop. It's filling those missing areas with white because it's using my current Background color, which by default is set to white:

Photoshop fills the missing areas with the Background color
Photoshop fills the missing areas with the Background color.

The Delete Cropped Pixels option

And the reason that Photoshop deleted those pixels is because, if we look in the Options Bar, we see that the Delete Cropped Pixels option is turned on, which it is by default:

The Delete Cropped Pixels option for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
The Crop Tool's "Delete Cropped Pixels" option.

Canceling the crop and reverting the image

Let's look at a better way to work. I'll cancel the crop by clicking the Cancel button in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Cancel button for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Clicking the Cancel button.

And then I'll revert the image back to its original size by going up to the File menu and choosing Revert:

Choosing the Revert command from the File menu in Photoshop
Going to File > Revert.

This restores all of those missing pixels:

The original image has been restored
The image has been restored.

I'll swap the aspect ratio back to Portrait mode:

Swapping the crop aspect ratio from Landscape to Portrait
Swapping the aspect ratio from Landscape to Portrait.

And then I'll drag the handles to resize the border, just like I did before:

Resizing the crop border in Photoshop
Resizing the crop border.

Turning "Delete Cropped Pixels" off

But this time, before I actually crop the image, I'll turn the Delete Cropped Pixels option off by deselecting it:

Turning off the Delete Cropped Pixels option for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
Unchecking the Delete Cropped Pixels option.

Then, I'll accept the crop by pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac). And so far, everything looks the same as it did before:

Cropping the image again as an 8 x 10 portrait in Photoshop
Cropping the image again as an 8 x 10 portrait.

But watch what happens if I try to resize the crop. I'll swap the aspect ratio back to Landscape mode:

Swapping the aspect ratio width and height
Swapping the aspect ratio from Portrait to Landscape orientation.

And as soon as do, we see something very different. The entire image reappears, as if it was never cropped at all. That's because when Delete Cropped Pixels is turned off, Photoshop just hides the cropped area instead of deleting it:

All of the original pixels are still intact, even after cropping the image
All of the original pixels are still intact, even after cropping the image.

I'll press and hold Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as I drag a corner handle outward to resize the border to include more of the image:

Resizing the crop border
Resizing the crop border.

And then with Delete Cropped Pixels still turned off, I'll accept the crop by pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac):

The photo has been cropped non-destructively in Photoshop
The photo has been cropped non-destructively.

Repositioning the image inside the crop

Another benefit of cropping the image non-destructively is that, since Photoshop is just hiding the cropped area, we can actually move the image around to reposition it even after we've cropped it. Select the Move Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting
Selecting the Move Tool

And then click and drag on the image to move it around until you're happy with the composition:

Repositioning the image inside the crop
Repositioning the image inside the crop.

Restoring the entire image

And finally, if you cropped your image with Delete Cropped Pixels turned off, you can restore the entire image at any time by going up to the Image menu and choosing Reveal All:

Choosing the Reveal All command from the Image menu in Photoshop
Going to Image > Reveal All.

Again because Photoshop was only hiding the cropped area, the entire image is instantly restored:

Reverting the cropped image back to its original size in Photoshop
The entire image returns.

And there we have it! That's how to crop images, how to straighten images, and how to crop your photos non-destructively, in Photoshop! Next, learn the Crop Tool's essential tips and tricks! And if you're tired of rectangles and squares, learn how to crop images in a circle! Or visit our Photo Editing section for more tutorials!