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The Trick for Keeping the Same Aspect Ratio When You Crop

Okay, let's say you want to crop a photo down in size, but you want to keep the aspect ratio the same as the original photo from your camera (so when you crop, the photo will be smaller in size, but it will have the exact same width-to-height ratio as the original photo). You could pull out a calculator and do the math to figure out what the new smaller size should be, but there's a faster, easier, and more visual way. (By the way, although the Crop tool within Camera Raw gives you a menu of preset ratios, you can only use those presets on a RAW image, but this technique works on any photo.)

Step One

Open the photo you want to crop. Press Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A) to put a selection around the entire photo.

Step Two

Go under the Select menu and choose Transform Selection. This lets you resize the selection itself, without resizing the photo within the selection (which is what usually happens).

Step Three

Press-and-hold the Shift key, grab a corner point, and drag inward to resize the selection area. Because you're holding the Shift key as you scale, the aspect ratio (the same ratio as your original photo) remains exactly the same. Once you get the selection near the size you're looking for, move your cursor inside the bounding box, and then click-and-drag to position your selection where you want to crop. Then, press Return (PC: Enter) to complete your transformation.

Step Four

Now that you've used your selection to determine the crop area, it's time to actually crop, so go under the Image menu and choose (no big surprise here) Crop.

Step Five

Once you choose Crop, the image is then cropped to fit within your selection, so just press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to Deselect. Because you followed the steps shown here, your cropped image maintains the same aspect ratio as your original photo.

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