How to Resize an Image in Photoshop [A Complete Guide]

A complete step-by-step tutorial to guide you on How to Resize an Image in Photoshop, along with simple steps to change the resolution:

Resizing an image in Photoshop is a useful skill for both seasoned and novice users. Whether you’re working on a personal project or a client’s work, you’ll want to scale an image in Photoshop at some point.

In this tutorial, we are going to show you how to resize an image in Photoshop. You’ll learn how to use the image size command and the artboard to resize images. Also, you’ll learn how and when to change the resolution and how to use the crop tool to resize images to exact size and dimensions.

Finally, this tutorial won’t be complete without showing you how to resize a layer in Photoshop the correct way. Keep reading to learn.

Note that we’re using Adobe Photoshop 2021.

Resize Image in Photoshop

How To Resize An Image In Photoshop

Using Image Size Command

The image size command is the most straightforward and convenient way to resize images in Photoshop. It works best for both print and online images. This method is a no-brainer for those interested in how to make an image smaller in Photoshop.

Also, you might want to follow the steps closely if your main concern is how to resize an image in Photoshop without losing quality.

How do you resize by pixels, percentage, inches, and what’s the difference?

There are several ways to resize an image in Photoshop. As you might already know, we resize images to use them for different purposes. That means we must pay close attention to the options we use during adjustments to get the best results.

Let us look at these options, how to use them, and when to use them.

#1) Change The Size of an Image by Pixels

We set our dimensions to pixels if we want to resize the image in Photoshop and use it online.

Step #1: First, start by loading the image you want to resize in Photoshop. You can do that in two easy ways: Click Open (if you just launched Photoshop) and pick your image from your computer or File (if you’re already working on a project) on the top menu bar and select open to get your image.

Open Image

Step #2: Once your image is open, go to Image (top menu bar) and select Image Size. Or press Alt + Ctr + I (if you’re on a PC) and Option + Command + I (on a Mac).

Image Size ScreenShot

A new image size window showing your image details will pop up as shown below.

Image Size Window ScreenShot

Step #3: The default dimensions are in pixels. If that’s not the case with you, click on the drop-down menu (labeled 1) to alter. Now do the following to change the size of your image:

  • If we want to change the dimensions of our image above to exact measurements, say, 1200px by 800px, we only need to type them into the width and height text boxes, respectively. Click OK and Adobe resize the image if you want.
  • However, if we’d like to maintain the original ratio of our image, then the first thing to do is to ensure that the constrained aspect ratio (labeled 2) is enabled so that the width and height are linked.
  • Next, select the Resample box (labeled 3) so that the number of pixels adjusts proportionally. Leave the value (Automatic) untouched for now. More on resample options later. Also, do not mess around with the resolution (at least for now).
  • Hover on the preview image and the pointer will turn into a hand tool. Hold down your mouse and drag around the image to inspect it. Use Ctrl + click (PC) or Command + click (Mac) to magnify the preview image and Alt + click (PC) or Option + click (Mac) to reduce it. You can also move the mouse pointer to one corner of the image size window and drag it to either increase or decrease its size.
  • That’s it. It’s that simple to resize images in Photoshop by pixels. Click on ok to save the changes and proceed to save the final image by going to File > Save As.

Before we look at the other two options (percentage and inches) there’s one thing that’s worth mentioning. You can quickly resize the image Photoshop to one of the standard dimensions by clicking on the Fit To drop-down menu. See below.

Fit to Image ScreenShot

#2) Change The Size of an Image by Inches

We use inches for images that we plan to print.

If you think how to resize images in Photoshop by inches is complex, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. Follow the steps above and only change the dimensions (width and height) to inches. That’s all.

Size into Inches ScreenShot

#3) Change The Size of an Image by Percentage

We rarely use percentages.

However, the option may come in handy when we want to make small adjustments such as reducing/increasing the height by 5% and so on. So, let’s see how to scale an image in Photoshop by percentage is done. It’s not a hard process, simply change the dimensions to percentage.

Pro Tip: It’s possible to have different units of measurements (pixels for width and inches for height–if that makes sense Press the shift key to change units separately.

Note that the three units (pixels, inches, and percentage) are not the only ones to use to resize images in Photoshop. We also have picas, points, centimeters, and millimeters.

Check out this article on How to Download and Install Photoshop for free

Photoshop Resample Options Explained (Pixel Interpolation)

Do you know what happens when you scale up or scale down an image in Photoshop?

The image is rewritten or resampled. If you scale down an image, Photoshop has to eliminate some pixels and vice-versa. The adding and subtracting of pixels is what is referred to as resampling.

Pixel Interpolation, on the other hand, is the calculation Photoshop does to recreate pixels.

Resampling Options

Photoshop resample options can help you get the desired results for different images. Let’s look at how to change the size of an image in Photoshop using resample options and how they differ.

  1. Automatic: Photoshop decides on the resampling method based on the image and whether you’re decreasing or increasing it.
  2. Preserve Details (enlargement): This is the preferred option when upscaling an image. Use the noise reduction slider if necessary to achieve what you want.
  3. Preserve Details: You may try this option first and switch to others if you’re not happy with the results. It simply preserves the image details.
  4. Bicubic Smoother (enlargement): This would be the best option to give you smooth results when upscaling an image.
  5. Bicubic Sharper (reduction): Use this option if you’re looking to get sharper results while maintaining the details in a reduced image.
  6. Bicubic (smooth gradients): Sometimes the bicubic is sharper and over-sharpens some areas of an image. Use the bicubic option in such cases.
  7. Nearest Neighbor (hard edges): This option quickly matches the nearest pixels while preserving the hard edges.
  8. Bilinear: This option uses the average of the surrounding pixels to add pixels to an image.

How to change the image resolution and when to change it?

Changing an image resolution in Photoshop is not difficult. However, it’s crucial to understand what resolution is and when to change it (whether to scale up or down).

The image resolution is what you see. You see pixels of light on your screen and dots of ink in print. We measure both in inches, hence Pixels Per Inch (PPI) and Dots Per Inch (DPI).

High-resolution images have more pixels per inch and their quality is high, too. Such images are suitable for printing since they produce good print quality. Low-resolution images have fewer pixels per inch and their quality is low.

The best and recommended resolution for print is 300 pixels per inch (PPI) while that for digital should be 72ppi. 72ppi is preferable for digital or online images because the image doesn’t need details, it’s smaller in size, and loads quickly.

Go to Image > Image Size to adjust your image resolution. Type into the resolution text box your value. You’ll notice that Photoshop adjusts the width and height of your image based on the resolution value that you type in. That should not worry you.

How to change resolution

Change the value of your width and height back to what you prefer once you’re done with the resolution.

Deselect resample to maintain the total number of pixels in your image (recommended for printing) before adjusting the resolution value.

You could also use Auto Resolution if you’d like to use a specific printing output for your image. Click the Fit To drop-down menu and select Auto Resolution.

Type in your screen value and pick the quality you prefer.

Auto Resolution

Hit ok and adjust the width and height values accordingly.

Using the Artboard

While using the image size command to resize an image is the most common way for resizing images in Photoshop, you can also use the artboard to quickly adjust the size of your images. However, you might want to experiment with this method to find out whether or not it will work for your case.

I use this method to scale an image in Photoshop to exact dimensions and size. If you’re looking for ways to make an image bigger in Photoshop or even smaller, then you might want to follow along closely.

Below is how to do it:

Step #1:

Go to File (top menu bar) and select New. Alternatively, you could press Ctrl + N (PC) or Command + N (Mac) to create a new document.

Pick any custom document and use the Preset Details to specify the width, height, and resolution of your image. Also, don’t forget to choose the right orientation based on the image you want to resize.

Click create.

Using the artboard 01

Step #2:

The artboard should be exactly the size of your preferred final image size, say, 1200px by 800px. Next, go back to the file and look for Place Embedded to bring in your image.

Place Embedded 1

Now drag the edges of the image until it fits into your artboard. Do not hold down the shift key as that will stretch out the image.

Drag image edges

The drawback of using this method to resize your image is that it crops out some areas. It’s not suitable for all images.

For instance, the image below is 1280px by 1280px.

Unsuitable Image

The marked areas (see below) are cropped out when we try to resize it to 1200px by 800px. We’ve lost some details despite resizing it successfully without stretching it.

Cropped details artboard

Unfortunately, trying to resize the same image using the image size command leads to stretching it and ending up with an irregular image (see the image below). That means it’s quite a challenge to resize some square images into non-square images without stretching them using the first two methods.

An irregular image

However, we’ll look into another interesting way (using the content-aware tool) to resize images without stretching them later in this tutorial. But first, let’s see how we can use the crop tool to resize an image to the exact dimensions and size.

How to Use Photoshop Crop Tool to resize an image

Sometimes we might want to eliminate distractions and focus on a specific part of a photo. Thankfully, Photoshop’s latest version has an improved crop tool to help us with that.

So, if you’re interested in more than changing the aspect ratio of an image, then see below how you can crop an image to the exact size with just a few clicks.

Step #1:

Go to the crop tool located on the left panel or press C to launch it. Next, click on the drop-down menu next to Original Ratio and select W x H x Resolution to specify your crop size.

Drop down next to Original Ratio

Step #2:

Type in your preferred crop size measurements and Photoshop will automatically save them. W stands for width (marked 1), H for height (marked 2), and the last one is the resolution (marked 3).

Crop Image to exact size

Now adjust the area of your image that you want to focus on to fit within the crop area. Hit the enter key to finish your crop.

Pro Tip: Click and hold on the dimensions shown bottom-left of your workspace to see the details of your image (before and after making adjustments)

Before crop

Current Image Details

After crop

New cropped image details

Note that you should leave the Delete Cropped Pixels untouched for you to make further crop adjustments in case you change your mind. You won’t be able to adjust your crop after you hit enter if you select the box.

Delete cropped pixels

How to Resize an Image Without Stretching It

Content-Aware Tool

Not all images are easy to resize. We earlier tried to resize a 1280px-by-1280px image to 1200px by 800px but couldn’t get the best results. While the artboard method gave us a fair result, we saw that it cropped some details out.

The image size command maintains the image details, but it is stretched. As promised, we are going to show you a trick on how to use the content-aware tool to change the size of an image in Photoshop without stretching it.

Step #1: Select the crop tool and click the drop-down menu next to the original ratio and choose W x H x Resolution.

Using the content-aware tool 01

Step #2: Specify your width, height, and resolution. Refer to the screenshot below.

Specify your width, height, and resolution

Step #3: Next, select the Content-Aware box (see below) and drag the edges highlighted by the crop tool until the whole image fits in. Don’t worry about the dimensions. No matter how much you drag the edges, Photoshop will maintain the specified width and height. Once you’re satisfied, click the checkmark and wait for Photoshop to do its thing.

select the Content-Aware bo

Remember to leave the Delete Cropped Pixels as is.

Let’s see the results below:

 image details

We have successfully resized our image without stretching it. Our new image is now 1200px by 800px and the resolution is 72ppi.

However, you might run into problems such as having duplicates of some parts of your image. Like what you see in the image below. We tried to resize the image from 1920px by 1280px to 800px by 800px.

duplicates of some parts

There are three ways you could use to fix such issues.

Method #1: Adjust the image

Drag the image to occupy the bottom space.

Adjust the image

duplicate parts fix - How to resize an image in photoshop

Now hit the checkmark and see the results.

hit the checkmark - How to resize an image in photoshop

Our image looks good, but it would be even better if we try to balance it so that both the top and bottom spaces are almost even

Method #2: The Spot Healing Brush Tool.

This technique will work best for simple duplicates, like what we have in the image below.

Spot Healing Brush Tool - How to resize an image in photoshop

Once you select the spot healing brush, use it to wipe out the duplicate until you’re satisfied.

select the spot healing brush

Method #3: Clone Stamp Tool

If the spot healing brush does not do a great job for you, try the clone stamp tool.

clone stamp tool - How to resize an image in photoshop

The clone stamp tool works best for complex duplicates. Select the tool from the tool panel or press S on your keyboard to quickly launch it. Now press and hold down the Alt key, then click on the part you want to clone. Release the Alt key and click and drag across the duplicate. Repeat until the whole duplicate is gone.

That’s it, you’ve successfully resized image Photoshop without stretching it. A little bit more work but with better results.

You might be wondering why so far there’s no specific section on how to make an image bigger in Photoshop and on how to make an image smaller in Photoshop. The information you have accumulated on how to resize in Photoshop can be useful on both occasions – whether you want to scale an image up or down.

How to Resize a Layer in Photoshop

Layers are instrumental as they help you work with separate content on each layer independently. All layers can be found in the layers panel arranged in a stack.

You must select a layer for you to work on it. It’s always a good practice to rename your layers accordingly to ease your work.

If you can’t see the layers panel, go to Windows (top-bar menu) and select Layers.

Layers - How to resize an image in photoshop

How to add an image to a layer in Photoshop:

Start by creating a new document in Photoshop by going to File, then New or pressing Ctrl + N (PC) or Command + N (Mac). That’s your first layer where you’ll add other layers of content (images, texts, or objects).

Next, go to Files and select place embedded. Pick an image you prefer from your computer and click the place. However, there’s an easy way to add an image to a layer. Simply drag and drop the image you want into Photoshop open document and that’s it. You have successfully added an image to the layer.

How to add an image to a layer - How to resize an image in photoshop

How to resize a layer in Photoshop using the scale function:

First, select the layer you want to resize from the layers panel. Next, go to Edit, Transform, and select Scale.

Resizing a layer using the scale function - How to resize an image in photoshop

Now use the Transform Controls to adjust the layer accordingly. See below:

Resize a layer transform controls - How to resize an image in photoshop

However, it is highly recommended turning layers into smart objects before resizing them for two reasons. One, it’s useful if you’re working on a project and would like to move your layer between documents and maintain the original quality. Two, you can scale the image down and scale it back up without it losing its quality.

It’s easy to convert a layer into a smart object. You can do it in two ways. Go to Layer, Smart Objects, and select Convert to Smart Objects.

Convert layer to smart object 01 - How to resize an image in photoshop

That’s a long way, though. The quickest way is to right-click on the layer you want to convert and select convert to smart object.

Convert layer to smart object - How to resize an image in photoshop

Resizing a layer in Photoshop shortcut:

The easiest way to quickly resize a layer in Photoshop is by selecting the layer you want and pressing Ctrl + T (PC) or Command T (Mac) to show the transform controls.

However, ensure you select the show to transform controls and let it stay that way if you’re using a newer version of Photoshop. With that selected, the transform controls will always show on the layer every time you select it from the layers panel.

Show Transform Controls - How to resize an image in photoshop

How to Resize Multiple Layers

Resizing multiple layers in Photoshop is easier than you thought. Select all the layers you want to resize from the layers panel.

Press and hold down Ctrl/Command Key if they’re random and pick them one by one or Shift Key if they’re in order and click the first and last to select them all at once. The transformation controls will show on the last layer and drag to resize them as you please.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) How do you adjust the size of an image in Photoshop?

Answer: The easiest way to adjust the size of an image in Photoshop is by pressing Ctrl + T/Command + T and dragging the transform controls. However, to adjust an image to an exact size and get better results, go to the image (top-bar menu) and select the image size. Enter your width and height measurements and click OK.

Q #2) What is the shortcut to resize an image in Photoshop?

Answer: Press Alt +Ctrl + I (PC) or Option + Command + I (Mac) to launch the image size window. Enter your preferred measurements and hit OK. Wait for Adobe to resize the image in no time.

Q #3) How do I stretch and resize an image in Photoshop?

Answer: Select the image you want to resize from the layer panel. Press Ctrl +T/Command + T. Press and hold down the shift key as you drag the transform controls to stretch the image. Do not press and hold the shift key if you want to resize the image proportionally.

Further reading =>> Best Photo Editing Software review

Q #4) How do I resize an image in Photoshop without stretching it?

Answer: The best option is to use the Image – Image Size Command and type in your preferred width and height values. However, the method might fail and that’s where the content-aware tool comes in handy. You could also use the crop tool to crop the image to the exact size and dimensions by picking the W x H x Resolution option.

Q #5) How do I resize an image in Photoshop without changing the canvas size?

Answer: Go to Edit – Transform and select Scale. Drag the transform controls until you achieve the size you want. However, the best approach is to use the Image – Image size command and typing in the width and height text boxes of the values.

Q #6) How do I resize without cropping in Photoshop?

Answer: Go to the image (top-bar menu) and select the image size. Type your preferred measurements in the width and height text boxes and click OK. It’s that easy.

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You’ve learned how to resize an image in Photoshop in many different ways. Also, you now understand that it takes some work to achieve the best results. For instance, you might want to combine several Photoshop skills to be able to resize an image without stretching it – just like we did above.

It’s evident that converting a layer into a smart object not only gives you the flexibility to work with it across different documents but also helps preserve its quality. You now have enough information on how to change the size of an image in Photoshop.

Also Read =>> Top Photoshop Alternatives

How about you try resizing different images using the methods above and see what works best for you.