Fast way to straighten a photo in Photoshop.


What’s the fastest way to straighten a crooked or tilted photograph? This is one of those classic bread-and-butter Photoshop tips that sometimes slips through even the most experienced designer’s bag of tricks.

Select the tape measure tool (it shares space with the eyedropper in Photoshop’s toolbox) and drag a line across part of your image that should be straight horizontal or vertical. Then choose Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary.

Photoshop auto-calculates the value required to straighten your image. Click OK and your image is all squared up.

The auto-calcuation is the fun part we think makes this tip-worthy. This feature has been around since Photoshop 5.5, but it still gets a “wow” from designers who never realized it was there.

Source: This tip comes from the Intro to Photoshop class that Jason Hoppe teaches each quarter at Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts. For those that missed it last week, Jason Hoppe is the newest member of the CreativeTechs’ support team.


  1. Tim Pearson says

    Hi John,

    You are correct – this method rotates the ENTIRE CANVAS, just like it says in the post. To do individual layers, you would select the layer and use the transform tool.

  2. JOHN says

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that this method adjust the ENTIRE CANVAS, rather than the particular layer. So, If I have several layers, each of which I want to adjust, then adjusting layer #1 will affect the remaining layers. If you don’t catch this right away, then you might move on to layer #2, straighten it, and not realize that you just messed up layer #1. I just did this to 32 layers and am not happy about it. After correcting layer #32 (the last one), I went back to my other layers, only to find that they’re all messed up now. Is there a method for straightening ONE LAYER AT A TIME, without affecting the other layers???

  3. says

    Intriguing blog. Read several other of your blogged content and I need to say it’s becoming a daily habit of mine to keep coming back seeking new stuff lol. Keep up the excellent work.

  4. Suzi says

    thank you so much for this tip, awesome. I now have one ‘straight’ photo of granddaughter

  5. says

    We can all use an outside perspective from time to time. Find someone you trust—someone who’s an expert—and get their honest opinion of your portfolio. They may be able to offer insights about what potential clients are looking for and advice on how to strengthen any weak points in your photography portfolio.

  6. Nick says

    Easier way to straighten photo without then having to crop the picky to remove the white areas is to use Picassa – which has a wonderful straighten tool (shame on you photoshop), and then import into PS.

  7. Jason says

    Hi, I am retyping old newspaper articles for a family album. I have taken photos of the pictures within the articles that I now need to crop and insert into the documents. When I’ve taken the photo the camera wasn’t directly on top so the photos, once cropped are smaller at the top than the bottom. Is there a way to stretch the photo so that it is rectangular again as opposed to being skinner at the top? I am using photoshop cs4.
    Any help would be muchly appreciated.

  8. Vixladyfox says

    How about really sideways shots? My so called “wedding photographer” took some shots that are so off center that they are unframealbe!! She was holding the camera at a slant to capture what in her head was “artistic shots” but to me it was just annoying! Haha! So would it be the same process in photoshop to fix those…..they are much worse then just the horizon being a little slanted! I am trying to find the right photo editing program for the job! BIG JOB TRUST ME!


  9. Politicsphysical says

    Limit Block,official near relatively executive draw push opposition lord state severe treat both according faith suitable compare more event his several dark plastic this slightly entry budget very son wing remind ask contract pay theatre belong rather change cat listen save mechanism young boat impose weapon unemployment approach period original relationship consumer advantage sector friend before arrangement about big technique cost prospect support directly if advance name negotiation mental report or affect interest relative career away including investigation little shoe motion assess actually public whatever intend difficulty detail level different much violence balance emphasis best

  10. says

    Nice. Thanks for the tip but what I’d like to do is straighten several photos that I scanned. Isn’t there an automatic way to straighten a group of scanned photos (based on their borders, of course)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>