Panning Thoroughly in Photoshop


Today’s Question: I would like to scan around an image in Photoshop to check for things that might need to be changed or removed. Is there a technique for quickly moving from one section of the image to another (other than just dragging and guessing) so that I am certain to hit every section of the image?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed move around a zoomed-in view of the image in an organized way in order to be sure to evaluate every area of a photo. This involves using keyboard shortcuts that enable you to use the Page Up and Page Down features to jump through sections of an image, including the ability to modify the Page Up and Page Down commands to enable left-to-right movement within the image.

More Detail: The Page Up and Page Down commands cause Photoshop to “pan” across an image in single “page” increments. Let’s assume you’re viewing the top-left corner of the image. The Page Down command would cause the last visible row of pixels to move up just above the visible area, with the first hidden row of pixels becoming the top row you are able to see. The Page Down command obviously moves downward in a similar fashion.

You can also modify the Page Up and Page Down commands to move one “page” of pixels left or right. In this way you can use the Page Up and Page Down commands, along with the left and right variations on these commands, to move around your image in organized blocks. The result is that you’re able to review the entire image up close in a very organized way.

On the Windows platform these commands make use of the Page Up and Page Down keys on the keyboard. Simply press Page Up on the keyboard to move up one page in the image, and the Page Down key on the keyboard to move down one page. You can move left and right by adding the Ctrl key to the keyboard shortcut. So Ctrl+Page Up will pan one page to the left, and Ctrl+Page Down will pan one page to the left.

On Macintosh there aren’t actual Page Up and Page Down keys, but you can still access these features through keyboard shortcuts. The equivalent of Page Up on Macintosh is to hold the “fn” key on the keyboard and use the up arrow for the Page Up command and the down arrow for the Page Down command. You can add the Command key to this combination to pan left or right. So fn+Command+up arrow will cause Photoshop to pan left, and fn+Command+down arrow will pan right.

I do recommend starting at a corner of the image to ensure a through review. The keyboard shortcuts for panning can admittedly be a little bit awkward to use, especially in terms of panning left and right. But when you get used to using these keyboard shortcuts, they can be tremendously helpful for closely (and thoroughly) evaluating all areas of a photo.