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How to Crop Out Background Clutter in Photoshop CS6

In Adobe Photoshop CS6, you can easily crop out distracting background clutter to put your primary subject on center stage. Use the Crop tool to alter images when you want to narrow in on a specific subject.

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  1. Select the Crop tool from the Tools panel (or press C on the keyboard).

    When you select the Crop tool, you automatically get a crop box at your image’s edges, which appears as a dotted line with brackets at each corner and rectangles at each side. You can refer to these as handles.

    Note that you can also drag around the part of the image you want to keep and then release your mouse button.

  2. Adjust the crop box by dragging the handles or sides.

    When you hover your mouse over any handle or the crop box itself, your cursor changes to a double-headed arrow, indicating that you can drag.

  3. Double-click inside the crop box.

    You can also just press Enter (Return on the Mac) or click the Commit (check mark icon) button on the Options bar. Photoshop discards the area outside the marquee. If you want to reset the crop box, image rotation, or aspect ratio, click the Reset button (curved arrow). If you want to cancel the crop, just press Esc or click Cancel (the slashed circle icon) on the Options bar.

    Here are a few other Crop tool options found in the Options bar:

    • Delete Cropped Pixels: If your image doesn’t contain any layers — that is, it consists only of a background — any cropped areas are permanently deleted from your file. However, if your image consists of one or more layers, you have the choice of deleting or just hiding your cropped area.

      Selecting this option eliminates the cropped area; deselecting this option simply hides the cropped area. You can see the hidden areas if you move the layer by using the Move tool. Another way to see the hidden area is to choose Image→Reveal All. Photoshop expands the canvas to show all areas in all layers, except for the Background layer.

    • Preset Aspect Ratio: Choose from many common photographic preset aspect ratios, such as 2 x 3 and 8 x 10 inches. If you want to freely choose your crop, leave this option on Unconstrained. If you want to crop to a specific size and resolution, choose the Size & Resolution option and enter your desired Width, Height, and Resolution.

      To save this for later use, be sure the Save as Crop Preset is checked and click OK. The new preset appears in your preset aspect ratio drop-down menu (pop-up menu on the Mac).

    • Custom Aspect Ratio: Enter your desired aspect ratio, and your crop box will conform to those values. The resolution in the cropped images stays the same as in the original image.

    • Rotate the crop box between portrait and landscape orientation: Click the curved arrow to switch between vertical and horizontal orientations.

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