One of the most frequent tasks I do in Photoshop is moving layers so they’re in the center of other layers or sections, so I decided to figure out how I can do it faster. If I can save a few seconds every time I need to center something, I can take less time drawing out my ideas on screen.
To get an idea of how much time I’ve gained, let’s first look at how I used to do it. Previously I would make use of guides to center layers. If I needed to center something, I would have to setup a guide first, which can be quite long winded.
It’s simple enough to create a guide in the center of the canvas (View > New Guide… > Vertical orientation with position set as 50%)
I would then move the layer into position by pressing CMD + T (free transform) and lining up the handles in middle to the guide.
What if I want to center a layer to a part of the design that isn’t the middle of the document? Well, I used to create a guide in the center of the area I needed by either pressing CMD + T on and existing layer or using Select > Transform Selection and moving a guide to the center of the bounding box indicated by the handles.
That seems like madness now, even though I was used to it and it didn’t seem to be a problem. It seemed like the fastest way at the time but I got stuck in my ways and I now have a much faster way of doing it.
The fastest way to center element(s) in photoshop is by using the marquee selection tool and I didn’t even know it was possible until recently. It’s one of those things you discover, use for five minutes and think “why didn’t I know about this before?!”. Then it quickly becomes second nature and an important part of your Photoshop process.
First, let’s look at how we can use this technique to center a layer in the middle of a document. With the layer you want to center selected and the marquee tool active, press CTRL + A to select the whole document and then within the move tool (keyboard shortcut: V), click either the “Align vertical centers” or the “Align horizontal centers” button (highlighted below). Click both to center the layer exactly in the middle of the document.