What is Cropping?

Below, we've outlined the basics of cropping. You'll learn how to harness Photoshop's versatile Crop tool, and why the technique is so essential for cleaning up images. 

What is Cropping?

If you want to remove distracting sections of an image, so that your subject becomes the real centerpiece of your work, you need to use the Crop tool. Essentially, cropping allows you to trim an image and refine the overall composition. This process is non-destructive, which means you can always retrieve the sections that you've deleted from the frame. 

Here are just a few applications where the Crop tool comes in handy:

  • Adjusting your image's aspect ratio, so it can be printed to scale.
  • Featuring the most important section of your image.
  • Getting rid of elements that detract from the composition. 
  • Change an image's orientation from horizontal to vertical (and vice versa).

Cropping an Image in Photoshop

First, select the Crop tool (it looks like a square with long edges) from the main toolbar. If you click and drag on your image, you can start cropping right away, but we recommend adjusting the crop options first. These can be found in the top options bar, and they include:

  • Aspect Ratio: Choose the default boundaries of your crop box. You can enter your own Width and Height values, or choose a preset from the dropdown menu. 
  • Overlay Options: This enables a ruler-style grid that can help you measure dimensions before cropping. Press O to change between the different guides, including the Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio.  
  • Delete Crop Pixels: We recommend de-selecting this box, so that any pixels you crop can still be retrieved. Otherwise, they will be deleted forever. 

Now, click and drag on the image to determine your crop boundaries. When you're happy with the new dimensions, press Enter to complete the crop. 

Using Perspective Crop

This supplementary tool allows you to transform an image's perspective via cropping. For example, if you've taken a photo at a slight angle, but want it to be a straight-on shot, the Perspective Crop tool will stretch the photo out to change the overall perspective. 

To access the Perspective Crop tool, click and hold your mouse over the main Crop icon to bring up a submenu. Click and drag a marquee box around your image, so that the dimensions match up with the object's real edges (and not the distorted edges of your photo). Then, press enter to finish the crop.  

Cropping the Image Canvas

Using the normal Crop tool, you can also change the dimensions of your canvas, regardless of whether an image is loaded. When you initially select the Crop tool, you should see a border appear on the edge of your canvas. You can click and drag on the handles to adjust an individual side, or hold Alt while dragging to resize the entire canvas.     

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?