Crop and Resize

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Today’s Question: I have an image that’s 19.2 x 12.8 inches at 300 ppi [pixels per inch] and I would like to crop it to be 12.25 inches square at 300 ppi. However, when I attempt to do this using the Crop tool in Photoshop it seems that the image is only cropped in the long direction and simply resized in the short direction. When I do this using the crop tool in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software it works perfectly. Is there something I can do to get the Crop tool in Photoshop to behave like the crop tool in DPP?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can crop and resize as one step in Photoshop by setting values for Width, Height, and Resolution on the Options bar for the Crop tool. Then set the crop box on the image to the intended area of the image, which could in this case include setting the crop box to match the full short side of the image if you only want to crop the long side in order to achieve a square crop.

More Detail: There are two basic options when it comes to how you crop an image in Photoshop. The first option is to simply crop, which involves trimming away portions of the image outside a crop box you can adjust. The second option is to resize the image to specific output dimensions.

If you are working on your master image, you generally would not want to resize as part of the cropping process. However, you might still want to crop to a specific aspect ratio, such as cropping to create a square image. To crop at a specific aspect ratio without resizing the image, you can enter values for Width and Height on the Options bar for the Crop tool, without setting a resolution.

First, make sure the popup toward the left end of the Options bar (just to the right of the Crop tool presets popup) is set to “Ratio”. You can then enter values for Width and Height (the next two fields to the right of the popup). For example, to crop to a square image you can enter “1” for both Width and Height, leaving the Resolution field blank. Note that the first text box after the popup is the Width value, and the second text box is the Height value. You can then set the crop box as desired based on how you want to trim the image, including the option to have that crop box include the full short side of the image.

If you want to resize as part of the cropping process, you will still want to enter values for the Width and Height fields (such as in inches or centimeters), but then also set a value for Resolution. This would be a common workflow if you were working with a copy of the master image (not the master image itself) and you are preparing that copy to be printed at a specific output size.

First, instead of using the Ratio option for the popup toward the left end of the Options bar, select “”W x H x Resolution” from the popup. You can then enter values for the dimensions you want to crop and resize the image to.

So, with the example in today’s question you would set both the Width and Height to “12.25 in” to set a square crop (since the two values are the same). However, the image will only actually be resized to 12.25 inches on each side if you also set a value for Resolution. In this case the intended output resolution is 300 pixels per inch (ppi), so you could enter “300” in the Resolution field.

You can then adjust the actual crop box on the image to trim away any portion of the image you want to exclude. You could of course also have the crop box go all the way to the edges on the short side of the image if you only want to crop the long edge. When you apply the crop, the image will be trimmed based on the positioning of the crop box, and also resized to the exact dimensions you specified on the Options bar.