Non-Destructive Cropping in Photoshop


Today’s Question: You mentioned the option to keep the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off when cropping a photo so that the cropped pixels aren’t removed from the image, but rather just hidden. But how do you later reveal those hidden pixels if needed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you need to recover the pixels that get hidden by non-destructive cropping in Photoshop you can choose Image > Reveal All from the menu.

More Detail: When using the Crop tool in Photoshop you can apply the crop non-destructively by making sure the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on the Options bar is turned off before applying the crop. This will cause the cropped pixels to be hidden from view rather than actually deleted, by virtue of reducing the canvas size to reflect the crop you’ve applied.

If you later decide the crop was a bit too much you have some options, even if you had since saved and closed the image and therefore no longer have a history you can step backward through with the Undo command.

You can effectively undo the crop of the image by choosing Image > Reveal All from the menu. This will expand the canvas size to reveal all the pixels that had been hidden by the non-destructive cropping.

You could also return to the Crop tool and change the crop after the fact. When you initially select the Crop tool for an image that had been cropped with the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off, you’ll see the image as it is currently cropped with the crop box along the outer boundary of the current image area. However, you can also drag any of the edges or corners of that crop box outward to reveal areas of the image that had been hidden by the crop.

In addition, you can use the Move tool to move the cropped image around within the current canvas size, which can be helpful for situations where you’re happy with the overall dimensions of the crop but not the specific position of the image within the crop. You can select the Move tool and then drag the image with the mouse or nudge the image using the arrow keys on the keyboard to fine-tune the positioning of the image within the crop.