Learning how to resize an image in Photoshop can be very useful. Often you deal with image files that are too big or need to be resized before print or to upload on a website.
To resize an image in Photoshop open your file and on your keyboard use the shortcut Cmd + Option + I on a Mac, or Ctrl + Alt + I on Windows. Now on the Image size panel choose the width and height you need as well as the image resolution.
While there are several tools that can help you with resizing and cropping your images, using Photoshop to resize an image is perhaps one of your best options. This is also probably the most used function in the software, even amongst casual users of Photoshop.
Let’s explore how to precisely use all the resizing options in Photoshop, to become an expert when it comes to resizing your photos,
Related: How to Crop an Image in Photoshop
How to Resize an Image in Photoshop Step-by-Step
If you are new to Photoshop you’ll find this step-by-step section useful. In my personal workflow I use Photoshop as the last step before printing an image. It’s useful since I can precisely change the image size to the actual frame size before I send my JPEG files to the print lab.
Step 1 Open Your Photo or Image and Check the Size
If you are anything like me and prefer to use keyboard shortcuts use Cmd + O, or (Ctrl + O if you use Windows) to open your computer folders. Otherwise, go to File > Open in the top menu bar. Next browse your computer folders and choose the photo you want, then click on Open.
When the image file opens you can check its dimensions in the bottom left corner of your Photoshop screen.
If the current size is not in pixels by default, click and hold to display the pixels size.
Step 2 The Image Size Dialog
Go with your mouse to the top menu bar and click on Image > Image Size, or if you are a keyboard ninja use Cmd + Option + I on a Mac, or Ctrl + Alt + I on Windows.
A new window will open. This is the Image Size Dialog Box where you can see a preview of your image and the dimensions. Drag and resize the panel for a bigger preview.
Step 3 Units and Aspect Ratio When Resizing
Choose the unit of measurement that you desire for the resizing. This can be done from the drop-down menu. I suggest using pixels for now.
By default Photoshop constrains the aspect ratio of your photo, meaning that if you change the width, the height will change accordingly, to maintain the image proportions.
Since we are talking about photos, I’ve never had the need to change the aspect ratio. That would affect how your image look.
Step 4 Image Resolution
Choose the resolution that you want to use for the image. 72 PPI will be best for images you upload on social media or send via emails. If you’re looking to print, you will need to use 150PPI or 300 PPI, which creates a pretty large file. If you are resampling for print I would recommend talking with your print lab and ask what’s their recommended resolution before you send them the file.
Step 5 How to Resize an Image in Photoshop: Resampling
When you change the image resolution, the image size will change too. Photoshop adds or remove pixels when we ask to make an image larger or smaller.
To allow the software to preserve as much as possible the quality of the image make sure resampling is enabled. Leave the resampling to automatic. You can experiment with the different resampling methods or take a look here to know what they do. Adobe official guide.
Once you have decided on the dimensions, resolution and resampling, you can go ahead and click on Ok to finish the resizing.
Related: How to Use Photoshop Actions
How to Resize an Image in Photoshop: Image Quality
While resizing images is quite simple, it is important to be aware of a few things with regard to maintaining the quality of the image.
Typically, you won’t find any problems when you make an image smaller than what it previously was. However, you may run into problems if you’re trying to enlarge the image. Whenever you make an image larger, you will find that the image stops looking that great.
You’ll notice that it looks blurry and soft, and has lost several details. The more you enlarge the image, the worse it’s going to get. This is because when you make an image smaller in Photoshop, it happens by basically getting rid of some pixels.
It turns out that the software is excellent at figuring out which of the pixels need to be removed, and which of them need to be retained such that the image quality is not ruined. This results in smaller images still looking good.
However, when trying to make an image larger, you begin to face problems.
As I said before, Photoshop adds pixels to the image to make it larger. It does so with an internal algorithm. The program doesn’t know what the original scene was, and therefore doesn’t know where to get these extra pixels from. It just creates them on its own, using generative algorithms, in an attempt to make it look passably good.
So, the larger you try to make your image, the more the computational operation has to guess, so the quality of the image keeps dropping. You’ll get a dull, hazy, and soft image instead of a crisp and detailed version that you hoped you’d get.
So, it is recommended that you never enlarge your image, unless you’re fine with having a poor quality photo.
Resizing an image is one of the most fundamental operations you can perform in Adobe Photoshop and is extremely popular. I hope that this article has removed any confusion that you might have had, and you are now confident to go and try it out on your own.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.