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Cropping to a Specific Size

If you’re using one of the standard size or cropping ratio presets that appear in the Crop tool’s pop-up menu, then you’re set. However, there are only a few common sizes in that pop-up menu, so you’re going to need to know (a) how to create custom sizes, and (b) how to save that custom size to the pop-up menu, so you don’t have to build it from scratch again next time. Plus, I’m going to show you another way to crop an image that, well, I’m not proud of, but I know a lot of photographers that do it this way. (Now, I’m not saying that I’ve done it that way, but...well...I’ve done it that way. More times than I care to admit.)

Step One:

Here’s the image I want to print as a wide 20x16" print (a very common size today, even though it’s based on the size of traditional film, not digital images, so you have to crop just to make it fit). Start by clicking on the Crop tool (C) in the Toolbox, then from the pop-up menu at the left end of the Options Bar, choose W x H x Resolution (as shown here).

Step Two:

This adds a Resolution field to the Options Bar next to the Width and Height fields. Type in the custom size you want (in this case, 20x16" at a resolution of 240 ppi, which is pretty ideal for most color inkjet printing) and it resizes automatically. If you think you’ll be using this size again (and chances are, you will), click on the pop-up menu and choose New Crop Preset, name it, click OK, and it adds this new size to that pop-up menu, so you don’t have to recreate it every time. You can click-and-drag the photo left/right to get the part of it you want to appear inside the cropping border. Now press the Return (PC: Enter) key and it crops your image to that size.

Step Three:

Okay, here’s that (ahem) other method: Go under the File menu and choose New (or press Command-N [PC: Ctrl-N]). When the New dialog appears, enter 20 inches by 16 inches, and enter 240 for Resolution, then click OK to create a new blank document in the exact size and resolution you need (as seen here).

TIP: Cropping to Another Photo’s Size

If you already have a photo that is the exact size and resolution that you’d like to apply to other images, you can use its settings as the crop dimensions. First, open the photo you’d like to resize, and then open your ideal-size-and-resolution photo. Get the Crop tool, and then from the pop-up menu at the left end of the Options Bar, choose Front Image. Photoshop will automatically input that photo’s dimensions into the Crop tool’s Width, Height, and Resolution fields. All you have to do is click back on the other image, and you’ll see a cropping border that shares the exact same specs as your ideal-size photo.

Step Four:

Now, get the Move tool (V), click on the image you want cropped to that size, and drag it onto that new blank document. While you still have the Move tool, click-and-drag the image around within the window so it’s cropped the way you want it, then press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E) to merge this layer with the Background layer, and you’re set. As you can see, they both kind of do the exact same thing, so which one’s right? The one you like best.

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