How to Crop to Specific Pixel Dimensions in Photoshop

How difficult can it be to crop an image in Photoshop to match an exact pixel size requirement? This is something that we do all the time. Everyone has a favorite method. Some photographers use the crop tool; it’s very easy to use, but it can be unreliable when you need to resize an image to match exact pixel specifications. Phil Steele shares an interesting one-step process that accurately resizes your photos to your pixel size requirements:

Say you need to upload an image as your new Facebook cover photo. The size is a weird 851 pixels by 315 pixels. That’s not a standard pixel size straight out of any camera. So, invariably you’ll have to crop it.

As mentioned, resizing an image can be done in a number of ways.

The crop tool is a traditional way to resize your photos in Photoshop. The crop tool gives you handles using which you can drag around to find an appropriate crop. Upon hitting ‘Enter’ the image is resized based on your selection. This does not give you a precise selection, though.

crop tool in photoshop

Crop Tool

The other popular option is to use the Image Resize option. This method, however, will not allow you to tinker with both the image height and width–you’ll have to choose just one. Thus, this method too, falls short of expectations.

Image resizing using Photoshop

Image Resize

Tinkering with the Canvas Size of the image is yet another option. The good thing with this method is that you can tinker both parameters: height and width. Except in this case the image selection area is never quite precise. You have to rely on Photoshop to choose that for you. You can choose to keep the image centered while the edges are trimmed off. Alternatively, you can keep one of the edges intact and trim off the other. How much will be trimmed?

Resizing the canvas size in Photoshop

Canvas Size

It depends on the size of the original image as well as the pixel size that you need. It is never in your control. The size, however, will be perfect to the exact pixel specification that you enter.

The best method, however, is the one where you do all of that—resize the image as per your pixel size specification as well as make a precise selection of the area of the image that you need, all in a single step process.

How to Crop to an Exact Size

    1. Select the Crop tool.
    2. A small box with options to type in the height, width, and pixel/inch appears at the top left.
Image size specification

Enter your pixel size specification in the boxes marked followed by ‘px’.

  1. Enter the width and height information for your desired image. Make sure you type ‘px’ to denote pixels after the height and width number.

Resizing an image in Photoshop

  1. Drag the image resize handles to resize the image. Stating the pixel height and width basically sets a target size to Photoshop. Every time you drag the resize handle the height and width are adjusted based on the pixel information you had set previously.

This method allows you to select an area of the image that you would like to use, rather than leaving the decision on Photoshop.

There is one downside to all this. If your selection area is too small, Photoshop will upsample the image. Though the selection process is just one step, Photoshop prepares the final image in a two step process. It resizes the image and then resamples it. If the image is too small, it will add pixels to the image to make it match the pixel height and width that you had set.

Go ahead and try this out. Do you have a better way to resize images in Photoshop?

For Further Training on Photoshop:

This course is designed to help users become a Photoshop or Photoshop Elements expert from the perspective of professional photographers. In the world of photoshop tutorials, it is difficult to find the key tools & functions that are critical for photographers, these lessons help you master them in any version of Photoshop.

Found here: Photoshop Basics for Photographers

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