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Crop Tool

Launch Photoshop and open one of your photos from the temporary folder. Select the Crop tool in the Photoshop toolbox (also known as the Tools bar). Its icon looks like two intersecting right angles. To locate it quickly, just press the letter C on your keyboard.

To make a crop selection, hold down the left mouse button and drag a rectangle across the image. A moving dotted line surrounds the selected area, and the area outside the selection is dark.

If your selection was imprecise, use the handles along the dotted line to shrink or enlarge the selection. You also can move your entire selection. To do so, place your pointer inside the selection so it becomes a black arrow. Now use your mouse to move the selection to another area.

Once you've made your crop selection, do one of the following to perform a crop:

To undo your action, just open the Edit menu and select Undo Crop. On the other hand, if you like the cropped image, open the File menu, select Save As, give the cropped image a new name, and click Save.

The Crop Options Bar

With the Crop tool selected, but before making another selection, look up at the Crop Options bar. Photoshop lets us specify the pixel size and resolution of our cropped image. In the Width and Height fields, type 150. To maintain the image's original resolution, leave the Resolution field empty.

Next, make a cropping selection, which will now be confined to a square shape (due to the measurements you just designated). You can make the selection large or small; Photoshop will resize the image to meet the width and height measurements you specified. This is a useful trick to keep in mind if you need an image of a precise size, want to fit an image into a collage, or need to fit an image into a Web page's design.

We don't recommend using the Resolution field unless you need to reduce the resolution. Increasing an image's resolution above the original amount will result in a loss of clarity within the image, producing a smudged or fuzzy effect.

To find out the original resolution of your image, click Front Image from the Crop Options bar. This provides an accurate reading of the picture's height and width, as well as its resolution. If you perform a crop with Front Image selected, however, Photoshop will increase the size of the selection to match that of the original, which looks horrible. Give it a try and then click Undo Crop from the Edit menu. Before moving on to our next experiment, click Clear from the Crop Options bar.

Options Revisited

For our next experiment, make another crop selection and look up at the Crop Options bar. You'll notice that the choices have changed. Now let's adjust the shading in the cropped-out area. If you deselect the Shield Cropped Area checkbox, the shading disappears. Try it. Clearly, this indicates that shading helps make the cropping process easier, so reselect the Shield Cropped Area checkbox.

The default shade color is black, but you can click inside the Color box and choose another color from Photoshop's Color Picker dialog box. You also can adjust the opacity of the shade. (A lower percentage results in less opacity.) Click the opacity arrow and use the slider to make an adjustment.

It's best if beginners leave the Perspective checkbox deselected. Advanced users, however, will find this option useful for correcting perspective distortions, such as those that occur in snapshots taken with a wide-angle lens. After you finish making your changes, you can use the Crop Options bar to execute the crop by clicking the big check mark button located on the far right side of the Crop Options bar. Or, if you wish, you can cancel the action by clicking the X button. (You also can use some of the other crop commands we mentioned previously.)

More Tips

If you have an image that requires corrections, be sure to perform any necessary cropping first. Removing areas of light and shadow will make adjustments to contrast, brightness, or color more effective.

As you experiment, consider these ideas for effective cropping:

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