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Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Cropping >

Square & Rectangular - Crop Tool

You can use the Crop tool to crop your photograph with a square or rectangular shape.


Be sure to check off as you go along.


1) Preserve your original file.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

No Restriction

3) Make sure the Background copy is active (highlighted).

Background copy


4) Select the Crop tool.


Crop Tool

5) In options bar/Tool Options, click the Show Crop Preset Options menu.


Select No Restriction.


6) Click, hold, and drag to create the crop marquee.

The area outside the marquee darkens.

This area is called the shield.

Press / to return the shield area to the normal density (exposure).


Commit or Cancel

7) Click the green check mark, or press Enter, to commit the cropping.

To cancel, click the red circle-with-diagonal, or press Esc.


Fine Tune

Here are several ways you can fine tune your use of the crop tool.

Change from landscape to portrait, or vice versa

Click the blue double arrows in options bar/Tool Options.


View an overlay

In options bar/Tool Options, you can add an overlay to the cropped area.

Consider using the Rule of Thirds & Grid Lines when cropping.


The Golden ration overlay was deleted in Photoshop Elements 13.

Make a square

To make a square, press and hold Shift.

Then click, hold, and drag the marquee.

Drag from the center out

The center is where you place the cursor.

Press and hold Alt, to draw the marquee from the center, outward.

You can combine Alt with Shift to draw a square from the center.

Move the marquee

Use the arrow keys to move the marquee.

Or, click inside the marquee, hold, and drag it.

Change the size of the marquee

There are two ways you can change the size of the marquee:

1) Click, hold, and drag the handles on the corners and sides of the marquee.

If you press Shift, and click, hold, and drag one of the corner handles, the aspect ratio of the marquee is maintained.

2) Enter dimensions in the Width and Height boxes in options bar/Tool Options.

Check the dimensions of the marquee

Open the Info panel to see the exact dimensions of the marquee.

Look for W and H.

To change to inches from pixels, or vice versa, go to Preferences.

Rotate the marquee

The marquee can be rotated by placing the cursor in the area outside the marquee.

The cursor will change to a curved, two-sided, arrow.

Click, hold, and drag.

Click the green check mark.

The angle of the rotation is shown in the Info panel.

Can't make the marquee the correct size

Photoshop Elements may place an invisible grid on your photograph.

As you draw the crop marquee, it may jump away from the position that you've selected.

This is a feature called snap to grid.

To see the grid, go to View > Grid.

To turn off the feature, go to View > Snap To > Grid.

To change the grid values, do the following.

Go to Edit > Preferences > Grid (Windows) or Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Grid (Mac).

Change the shield

As described, the shield is the area outside the crop marquee.

You can change the color and density (exposure) of the shield, and can turn the feature on or off.

To change the shield, do the following.

Go to Edit > Preferences > Display & Cursor (Windows) or Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Display & Cursor (Mac).

Other Aspect Ratio Choices

Above, in options bar/Tool Options, No Restriction was selected.


Here's a description of the other choices.

If you haven't already, go to Aspect Ratios.

Use Photo Ratio

If you select Use Photo Ratio, the marquee will have the same aspect ratio as your photograph.

Preset Sizes

If you're going to print your photograph on a certain size paper, select the size of the paper.

Custom Sizes

You can enter values into the Width and Height boxes in options bar/Tool Options.

Crop Suggestions

In Photoshop Elements 13 and later versions, four crop suggestions are displayed.

Mouse over the thumbnails to preview them.

Click on one of the suggestions to select it.

Perspective Crop Tool

Introduced in Photoshop Elements 15, the Perspective Crop tool is used to correct subjects that are tilted.

Rather than combine two disparate actions, you may want to go to Image > Transform and select one of the options there.

Then, go back to the Crop tool.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.

Other Shapes

Go to Cropping - Circles & Ovals