Cristian Doru Barin

Adobe Photoshop is a complex and powerful design tool that can feel overwhelming at times. In this article, we’re going to review four ways to resize an image in Photoshop, but don’t worry! In this tutorial, we strip away all that complexity and show how to get the job done in no time at all. Let’s get started. 

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The easiest image resizing method

The best way to resize an image in Photoshop is to use the Image Size dialog box. This not only preserves details and constrains your aspect ratio to prevent distorted images, but it’s also easy to use. 

Step 1: Open the image

This is best done by using the hotkey Ctrl/Cmd+O. Browse for the image file on your computer. An alternative is to go to the top menu to File (that’s the Photoshop menu item on a Mac) and choose Open.

Note: if you drag and drop an image inside an existing project, this method isn’t going to work.

Step 2: Activate the Image Size dialog box

Select Image from the top menu bar then choose Image Size. Alternatively, you can use the hotkey: Alt+Ctrl+I or Opt+Cmd+I on a Mac.

Optional Step 3: Choose your unit of measurement

Click here and select any unit of measurement you feel comfortable with. I prefer pixels for images that will remain on screens and inches for photos that I’m going to print. Based on this choice, you’ll have to adjust your pixel dimension. For print projects, the standard resolution is 300 pixels per inch. For web images, 72 pixels per inch is the go-to choice. If you’re not sure, you can simply use ‘percentage’ which is the easiest way to end up with a great result.

Step 4: Input your new measurements

Use these two fields to type in your new width and height values. Photoshop will resample the image to preserve the details as much as possible. I strongly recommend you leave it to set Automatic; don’t get caught up in Bicubic Sharper. Photoshop knows best whether you plan on enlarging or shrinking the image.

Make sure you hit the link icon before you start typing in your new values. This will constrain your aspect ratio. The file size is going to shrink if you input lower values in the width and height fields.

Note: In case you want to enlarge your image — known as upsampling — limit yourself to about a 30% increase in size. This will preserve details. If you enlarge it too much, you’ll end up with a blurry image. Another thing to consider when enlarging an image is the original photo’s starting size. The bigger the image, the better quality of your final product.  

Step 5: Export the image

The best way to export an image in Photoshop is to right-click the layer in the Layers panel and choose Export As. From the new window, choose the PNG format as that will ensure maximum quality. Hit the Export button and you’re done. That’s how you save for web! The original image is not going to be overwritten unless you specifically choose to do so.

And that’s it! This is the best way to resize an image in Photoshop. Just in case you’re not convinced, here are my top 3 alternatives for resizing an image in Photoshop.

Alternative #1: Resize an image in Photoshop while exporting

In all CC editions of Photoshop, you can resize your image as needed directly from the Export As dialog. Open the image with the same hotkey, Ctrl/Cmd+O, and right-click the layer inside the layers panel.

In this new window focus on image size. Here you have two options:

  1. Input specific values in the width and height fields. This is best used for those cases where you need an image with a certain size.
  2. Use the scale dropdown or manually type in a percentage. What’s great about this option is that once you make your choice, the fields from above will automatically show you the new values.

When you’re happy with your settings, click the Export button and you’re finished. 

Alternative #2: Resize and image in Photoshop through the Properties panel

I love this resizing option because the Properties panel is getting better with each Photoshop release. This method works best for shrinking images rather than enlarging them.

Step 1: Open your image with Ctrl/Cmd+O hotkey.

Step 2: Double-click the background layer to unlock it.

Step 3: Go to Window in the top menu. From this alphabetically sorted list, choose Properties.

Step 4: With the chain icon pressed, type in your new width (W) and height (H) values.

Step 5: Go to the top menu to Image. From the list, choose Trim.

Step 6: Choose Transparent Pixels from the Trim dialog and check all four options. Hit OK.

Note: If you want to enlarge a photo in Photoshop with this method, after this step you’ll have to activate the crop tool (hotkey C), grab a handle by going over an edge, and drag outwards until you match the canvas size with the image size.

Step 7: Save your work by right-clicking the layer in the Layers panel and selecting Export As. 

Step 8: Select PNG as the format and hit Export to finish up.

Alternative #3: How to resize an image in Photoshop through Free Transform

Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T) is a popular resizing technique that allows you to quickly resize an image in Photoshop no matter how you open it. You can use this method to resize on the fly, but you also have the option to work with precision by typing in your values in any unit of measurement. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Go to the Layers panel and double-click Background. This will unlock the layers so that you can resize it.

Step 2: Hit OK in this New Layer dialog.

Step 3: Use Ctrl/Cmd+T to enter Free Transform mode.

As an alternative, go to the top menu to Edit. From this list choose Free Transform. Do NOT select Transform.

Step 4: Go to any edge of the image and look for your cursor to change into this symbol.

Note: make sure the chain icon from the options bar is pressed. This will prevent any image distortion.

Step 5: Drag inwards or outwards as needed. In the options bar, you’ll see your new values.

Optional: If you want to work with precision and type in your own measurements make sure you right-click here.

Choose your unit of measurement for both fields. Then type in your desired size.

After you’re happy hit Enter or use the checkmark symbol from the options bar. Next, you have two choices:

Step 6: Save your work by right-clicking the layer in the Layers panel and choosing Export As.

Step 7: Select PNG as the format and hit Export to finish up.

No matter how you choose to resize your image remember to have fun with it! Photoshop allows you to achieve the same result in a number of ways. Choose the one that feels right to you and continue your learning journey.

Page Last Updated: July 2020

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