Written by Steve Patterson.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn time-saving tips and tricks for working with layer blend modes in Photoshop! I’ll show you how to easily scroll through the blend modes to see how each one affects your image, how to instantly jump to the exact blend mode you need, and even how to adjust the intensity of a blend mode, all directly from your keyboard! We’ll cover every blend mode shortcut you need to know to speed up your workflow, and I’ll even include a tip to make memorizing those shortcuts a whole lot easier.
I’ll be using Photoshop CC but any recent version will work. Let’s get started!
What we’ll be learning
To help us learn the tips and tricks, I’ll use Photoshop to blend a texture with an image. Here’s the image I’ll be using. I downloaded this one from Adobe Stock:
layer above it. I cover how to move images into the same document in a separate tutorial, so I’ll turn the top layer on by clicking its visibility icon:
texture, also from Adobe Stock:
Where to find the layer blend modes
Photoshop’s blend modes are all found in the upper left of the Layers panel, and the default blend mode is Normal:
How to scroll through layer blend modes
Let’s look at how to quickly scroll through the layer blend modes to see the effect that each one has on our image.
To usual (slow) way to try blend modes in Photoshop
The way most people try out blend modes is that they click on the Blend Mode option in the Layers panel:
How to select blend modes from your keyboard
Scrolling through the blend modes is great when you’re not sure which blend mode you need and just want to experiment. But if you do know which one you need, you can jump straight to it from your keyboard. Photoshop includes keyboard shortcuts for nearly all of its blend modes.
To select a blend mode from your keyboard, press and hold your Shift key, along with your Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key, and then press the letter that’s associated with the blend mode.
For example, the first blend mode I chose earlier was Multiply. To select the Multiply blend mode from your keyboard, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) and press the letter M. The second one I chose was Screen, which you can jump to by holding Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) and pressing S. To jump to the Overlay blend mode, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) and tap O.
Photoshop’s layer blend mode shortcuts – Complete list
Here’s the complete list of keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop’s layer blend modes. They all share the same two keys at the beginning, either Shift+Alt on a Windows PC or Shift+Option on a Mac. The only difference between them is the specific letter at the end. Some letters are obvious, like “N” for Normal, “M” for Multiply, and “S” for Screen, while others, like “G” for Lighten or “J” for Linear Light, you’ll just remember over time:
|Blend Mode||Keyboard Shortcut (Alt = Win, Option = Mac)|
|Normal||Shift + Alt / Option + N|
|Dissolve||Shift + Alt / Option + I|
|Darken||Shift + Alt / Option + K|
|Multiply||Shift + Alt / Option + M|
|Color Burn||Shift + Alt / Option + B|
|Linear Burn||Shift + Alt / Option + A|
|Lighten||Shift + Alt / Option + G|
|Screen||Shift + Alt / Option + S|
|Color Dodge||Shift + Alt / Option + D|
|Linear Dodge||Shift + Alt / Option + W|
|Overlay||Shift + Alt / Option + O|
|Soft Light||Shift + Alt / Option + F|
|Hard Light||Shift + Alt / Option + H|
|Vivid Light||Shift + Alt / Option + V|
|Linear Light||Shift + Alt / Option + J|
|Pin Light||Shift + Alt / Option + Z|
|Hard Mix||Shift + Alt / Option + L|
|Difference||Shift + Alt / Option + E|
|Exclusion||Shift + Alt / Option + X|
|Hue||Shift + Alt / Option + U|
|Saturation||Shift + Alt / Option + T|
|Color||Shift + Alt / Option + C|
|Luminosity||Shift + Alt / Option + Y|
The blend modes that are missing shortcuts
Out of Photoshop’s 27 blend modes, only 4 of them are missing shortcuts, and those are Darker Color, Lighter Color, Subtract, and Divide. You’ll rarely, if ever, use these ones, but if you do need them, you’ll have to select them from the Layers panel:
Multiply. Then, use the other shortcut we learned earlier, which is to hold Shift and tap the plus or minus key, to move up or down through the others in the group:
Screen blend mode. Then hold Shift and use the plus or minus key to scroll through the others:
Overlay, and then scroll through the list:
Color, and then scroll to the one you need:
Top 5 Blend Modes You Need To Know tutorial.
How to adjust the intensity of a blend mode
Finally, if you like the overall look of a blend mode but the effect is too strong, you can adjust the intensity directly from your keyboard. For example, I’ll jump to the Linear Light blend mode by pressing Shift+Alt+J (Win) / Shift+Option+J (Mac):