How to resize pictures in Photoshop

September 3, 2008 by Diane Vigil in

Since one of our clients has just purchased Photoshop Elements, I thought I'd knock together a little article regarding how to resize pictures in Photoshop.

Now, if you don't know, Photoshop Elements is kind of a "Photoshop lite" — but it's got quite a lot of the same features, and certainly enough to satisfy all but the most geeky graphics persons.

At any rate, to resize pictures in Photoshop (and, sorry, these are Windows instructions but I assume the same sequence works for Mac and Linux users):

  1. Start up Photoshop and go to File > Open to select your picture (which we call an "image"). Or, if your computer is set up to open pictures in Photoshop, just double-click the image and let Windows open Photoshop.
  2. Now that you've got your original image open in Photoshop, don't resize it — always leave the unedited original intact. What you want to do is create a Photoshop document from the image (which will end in .psd), resize (and/or retouch, enhance or otherwise alter) the Photoshop document, and then generate the image in a Web format.

    Since the original image is likely the only thing you've got open in Photoshop at this point, it's already selected. Just:

    1. Cntrl A to select the entire image (you'll see some dashes surrounding the image; believe it or not, these are called "marching ants").
    2. Cntrl C to copy it to your Windows Clipboard.
    3. Cntrl N to start a new document — this will be the Photoshop document and, conveniently, it should be the same size as your image.

      Note that images to be used on the Web only need to be 72 pixels per inch — so if the New window says anything higher than "Resolution: 72", change it to 72.

    4. Click Okay. Photoshop will open a new document that should be the size of your image (which Photoshop is aware of since you copied it to your clipboard first).
    5. Cntrl V to paste the image from your clipboard into the new Photoshop document.

      About Layers: notice here the Layers palette (if it's not open, go to Window > Layers at the top of the Photoshop screen). In Photoshop, you can have images and/or text on top of other images and/or text, and you can move these layers around or otherwise manipulate them separately from other layers. In other words, they're separate, not merged as one. (In the old pre-layer days, we had to be very careful about what we did with images because all effects were merged into one layer, and we had to keep far too many copies.)

      At any rate, notice that there are two layers in your Layers palette — your image and a background. Here's a screenshot (click the image to get a popup of a larger image):

      Photoshop Image Resizing

  3. Save your Photoshop document!
  4. To resize: at the top of the Photoshop window:
    Image > Image size
    (or, in keystrokes, Alt Shift i — much easier!)
    You'll get this window. Just reset the width (or height), making sure that "Constrain Proportions" is checked. You'll soon know why if it isn't!

    Note: if your image is large, resize a few times or you may get fuzzy results. I usually take large images down 200-300 pixels at a time.

    Photoshop image resizing

  5. Save again.
  6. Generate your image. Now you'll need an image that's usable elsewhere than in Photoshop:

    Save > Save for Web

    Select what you need, and press Save.

    A note about Web formats:

    • .jpg format: good for photographs and images with lots of color
    • .gif format: good for images with flat planes of color
    • For .png, I'd be careful of file size. Great format, but sometimes quite a large file size (which impacts download time).
    • For .jpgs, you don't need the highest quality available (medium-to-higher quality should give you a good quality image without a huge download time). I usually select around 63-68, depending on the image. People often send me 200K images that I can save, often at better quality, at, say, 30K. Download time is everything. Even nowadays.
  7. You're done.

Yes, I know that a lot of these steps can be performed by using the mouse to select various actions; I'm just so used to using keyboard strokes to … well, get it done fast.


6 Comments for "How to resize pictures in Photoshop"

  1. Abhishek

    You selected bi-cubic sharper. What it does while resizing the images ?

  2. Patrick

    Awesome…. Concise, Precise, and Easily Actionable Information..Thank you, I will be back often!!

  3. Diane Vigil

    Hi Abishek; sorry I missed your comment (and this is quite a bit later!).

    In any case, there are several settings there that you can use to control the quality of the resized image. (For example, making it sharper than it might otherwise be.) I'd suggest just trying them out (on a copy of the image).

  4. Nazmul Islam Sujan

    Its really short and very easy term of resizing a photograph. I hope all are enjoying this to take the term.

  5. AMBER

    Using this website you can automatically resize your pictures online:
    Supported baseline and progressive jpeg for web publishing.
    There are many different tools to work with images online.

  6. Ron Bates

    It\'s a neat trick, I learned the similar thing here only for PaintShop, but the result is the same. It\'s quick and easy, and the quality of the image is saved :)

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