Today’s Question: The Crop tool in Photoshop is driving me crazy. When I try to zoom in to make sure I’m cropping well at the edges and corners the image moves so that I’m not looking at the area of the image I zoomed in on. Is this a bug or is there a way to fix this annoying behavior?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The behavior you’re describing for the Crop tool in Photoshop can be disabled by turning off the “Auto Center Preview” checkbox.
More Detail: By default, Photoshop will center the image automatically when working with the crop tool. If you drag to define the area of the image you want to retain when cropping, that area will shift to the center. While this behavior can be helpful, it can also be quite frustrating when you’re trying to zoom in on a corner or edge of the photo you’re cropping.
To disable this automatic centering, select the Crop tool from the toolbar and then click the gear icon on the Options bar to bring up a settings popup. On that popup turn off the “Auto Center Preview” checkbox. The image will no longer center automatically to the cropped area, enabling you to zoom in to check the specific positioning of the crop edge without having to pan around after the image centers itself.
Note, by the way, that you can zoom in on a specific area of the image while using the Crop tool without the need to switch to a different tool. If you hold the Ctrl+Spacebar keys on Windows or the Command+Spacebar keys on Macintosh, you’ll have access to the Zoom tool without actually switching to the tool. You can then click-and-drag on the area of the image you want to take a closer look at, and the image will be zoomed in on that area when you release the mouse. With the “Auto Center Preview” checkbox turned off you’ll actually be seeing that area, rather than having the image pan so that you’re looking at the center rather than the area you wanted to get a closer look at.