What is a size tool in Photoshop

Adjust Photoshop CC brush size / hardness with the mouse

Since version CS4 Photoshop offers us the possibility to change the brush size and hardness with the mouse without having to make changes or use shortcuts every time via the options bar. What is very commendable about this function is that it is very intuitive to work with illustrative work.
I have to admit that I haven't used this feature for a long time. Since I'm still working with the CS3 version in the agency, I've got used to the shortcuts. When the function was suggested to me again in a workshop, I noticed how extremely practical it is. Perhaps one or the other of you does not yet know the function or needs a little refreshment like me.


That's how it works

The following keyboard shortcuts work on the Mac.

  • Brush size: Ctrl + Alt + click
  • Brush hardness: Ctrl + Alt + Cmd + click

If you work with Windows, please use these instructions. If that doesn't work, I've made a mistake. In this case I ask for a helpful hint in the comments!

  • Brush size: Alt + right click
  • Brush hardness: Alt + Shift + right click

How do you work

How do you work with brushes in Photoshop? Do you use the option shown above, do you use the brush options in the options bar or do you use shortcuts? In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the different ways of working?

Written by Jonas

Jonas is the founder of the web design agency kulturbanause® and the kulturbanause® blog. He takes on project management, graphics as well as frontend and WordPress development and has published numerous specialist books and video trainings. As a lecturer, he leads training courses and workshops. He prefers to work on projects and topics that challenge him conceptually as well as creatively and technically.

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Feedback & Additions - 9 comments

  1. I also have the problem of "2700" again. In my opinion, that was not answered correctly and I have not yet found anything about it on the Internet. The problem is 10 years old, but I hope that after the last comment from a year ago someone is still reading it!

    So the following: My brush tip used to look like the one in the picture above. You could see the selected color, size and hardness of the brush tip, which I always set with the above-mentioned key combination plus mouse movement.
    Now I can only see the size of the brush (thin black outline), but no color and therefore no longer the hardness. I only see the sober information field next to the top.

    The problem just happened at some point. Anyone know advice?

    Thanks & Greetings

  2. This works a little differently now and only with the Alt + right mouse key. The size is changed by left-right movement and the hardness by dragging the mouse up and down

  3. In Photoshop CC 2018 on Windows I can change the brush size using Alt + right click, but the key combination for hardness does not work. As soon as I press the shift key, the color selection appears with the eyedropper.
    Is there a new combination for the hardness in CC?

  4. Thank you for your description, you don't know how long I've missed this feature on the Mac.

    Maybe it would make sense to update the article to CC or CS6, it still works the same, but you will be found faster with the Google search;)

  5. Hello, I have the problem that I can no longer see how far the gradient is from the brush. You can only see the circle of the brush size.

    What I mean in the video shown above is this lemon yellow color (it was shown in red on me, only now it no longer shows well).

    What can that be?

    • The problem should be solved in no time. Go under "Preferences> Pointer Display". Here you can choose whether you want to use the brush tip in full size or alternatively a tip that has been reduced by 50%.

  6. Hello,

    An important addition to this: Just clicking is not enough, the mouse has to be moved to the right or left. A two-button mouse is absolutely necessary on a Mac!

    Additional addition: The HARDNESS can only be set if you have actually set the brush as the brush tool - this option does not exist with the colored pencil.

  7. Thanks for the tip. So far, I've always worked using the brush options in the options bar. But your tip promises a faster change of the brush settings without having to move the cursor away from the object.

    I will definitely try it out.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    Greetings Stephan

  8. Thanks! Finally I want CS4 @work.
    Presumably they will wait until CS5 ...