What they are, how to use them and what they are for

The truth is that regular or more experienced users of the Adobe tool will know perfectly what the Photoshop guides are and what they are for, but if we are more inexperienced users or we are just starting out in photo editing, it will surely come to us great to know well what Photoshop canvas guides are and how they work.

What are Photoshop guides

Guides and Photoshop Grid Help position images or items precisely on our canvas. The guides appear as lines on the canvas or images itself, being able to move, remove or block them if we want them to be in a certain place and we cannot move them unintentionally.

As the name suggests, guides are the elements that will not guide when accurately placing objects on the canvas. In addition, we will choose the exact position of the guides ourselves. Specifically, they are a kind of vertical and horizontal lines that allow us to delimit certain spaces to place certain elements in our project as precisely as possible.

photoshop guides

These guides are always displayed above the image but are not printed or saved with the photo, they are only visible in design mode. Now, we can choose to show or hide the guides on our canvas as it suits us.

How to Hide, Show, and Add Guides to the Canvas

To show or hide the guides on the Photoshop canvas, all we have to do is:

  • We select the option View from the main menu.
  • We click on the option To show.
  • Next we will find the options, Guides, Canvas Guides, and Smart Guides, among other.

By simply checking any of these options, the guides will be displayed in Photoshop, while unchecking any of them will cause them to be automatically hidden. Now, if what we want is to add guides in Photoshop, we have two ways to do it easily and quickly.

The first one is to go to the main menu option View and click on the option New guide. This will open a small window in which we can choose if we want to add a vertical or horizontal guide, as well as its position in inches. The truth is that this option allows us to add a guide easily and precisely, but the most used way to create a guide is by clicking on the ruler and dragging down or to the right, until placing the ruler where we want.

That is, just drag from the horizontal ruler to create a horizontal guide and from the vertical ruler to create a vertical guide on the canvas. It is also possible to create a horizontal guide by holding down the key Alt on Windows u Option on macOS and we drag from the horizontal ruler and the same if we drag from the rule vertical. Finally, to create a guide that fits the tick marks, all we have to do is hold down the Shift key and drag from the horizontal or vertical ruler. By dragging a guide, we will see how the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow.

How to position, move and lock a guide

It goes without saying that if we have placed a guide and it is not in the place we need or we need to change it, we can move it without any problem at any time we want. To move a Photoshop guide, all we have to do is place the mouse pointer over it, click and hold we drag the guide to the position we want. We can do this for both horizontal and vertical guides.

As we can see, sliding a guide and changing it is very simple, so much so, that on many occasions we accidentally move them when trying to move an element of the canvas. If we have already worked with guides, we will know very well what we mean. To avoid moving any guide inadvertently, what we can do is block them once we have placed them in the exact place. In this way, we will avoid that we can move them without realizing it.

To block the guides we can go to the menu View from Photoshop’s main menu and choose the option Lock guides. Now, if we are one of those who like to use keyboard shortcuts, we can lock the guides on our canvas with the simple fact of pressing the key combination Alt + Ctrl + Ñ. From that moment on, the guides can no longer be moved, unless we return to the option View> Lock Guides and uncheck this option or press the aforementioned combination of keys again to unlock the guides.

Guide preferences and how to remove them from the canvas

The guides have a series of settings that allow us to customize them in terms of color, style, etc. To do this, we must follow the following steps:

  • We select the option from the main menu Edit.
  • Then we enter preferences.
  • And now we select the option Guides, grid and slices.
    1. In Color we will be able to choose a color for the guides. We select Custom, click on the color box, choose the one we like the most and confirm with OK. The guides will automatically change to the selected color.
    2. In Style we will be able to choose the display option for the guides that we like the most.

photoshop guides

To remove the canvas guides in Photoshop, we can choose to hide them, as we showed above, or remove them in one of the following ways:

  • We drag the guide out of the image window, which will make it no longer appear. Very useful when we want to delete a guide in a timely manner.
  • We remove all the guides at once from the menu option View> Clear Guides.

Smart guides

The Smart guides they help us align shapes, sectors, and selections. These guides appear automatically when you draw a shape, create a selection or slice, or drag an item. If necessary, they can also be hidden.

These types of guides are very useful in many situations, such as when:

  • We drag a layer while holding the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key: This time Photoshop displays the reference measurement guides that indicate the distance between the original layer and the duplicated layer. This feature is enabled with the Move and Path Selection tools.

photoshop guides

  • We want to make trace measurements: Photoshop displays the sample measurement guides as we work with the paths. Measurement guides are also displayed when the Path Selection tool is selected and we drag a path within the same layer.

  • Control the space between objects: When you duplicate or move an object, the Adobe tool displays measurement guides to visually indicate the spacing between other objects, which matches the spacing between selected objects and their elements.
  • Take measurements: If we hold down the Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (Win) key and hover the mouse pointer over a layer we can see the measurement guides. To move the selected layer we can use the arrow keys to move said layer to the exact place where we want.

  • View distances from canvas: If we hold down the Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) key while moving an element out of a shape, Photoshop will show us the distances from the canvas.

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