I'm watching a tutorial in which the instructor is cycling through blend modes for a pattern overlay and the shape layer instantly updates with whichever blend mode he has selected. I have read that this might only be possible on a PC and not a Mac - can anyone confirm whether that is true, and if not, the necessary shortcut for it to be possible on a Mac? (and a PC, to make the question more universally helpful :))

Thank you.

  • On a PC at least, shift with the +/- keys work fine. You just need to have the main viewport active (don't click the layer in the layers panel). Also another tip: alt + shift + n/m/s etc. lets you set as normal/multiply/screen without cycling through...
    – John
    Sep 25, 2013 at 13:41

6 Answers 6


On a Mac, if you are talking about blend modes within the Pattern Overlay Effect, Shift +/- doesn't work as it does with blend modes for Layers in the Layers Palette.

On a PC though, you can click on the blend mode drop down, choose normal then use the up/down arrow keys to cycle through for layers and blend modes within effects.

  • yeah, I've found this as well. I guess it's just a weird oversight for Macs, then. Sep 25, 2013 at 22:02

If the "pattern overlay" was a layer with a pattern fill used as an overlay, you can use the following on the layer...

Option/Alt+Shift++ or -

This will cycle through Blend Modes within Photoshop for a highlighted layer with the Move Tool selected.

If you have a Painting Tool selected the same keyboard shortcut cycles through blend modes for that tool rather than the layer.

Note this does not work for items inside the Layer Styles dialog window. It only works on layers and tool settings.


Yes, one of the great features unkown to many Mac users is the ability for PC adobe users to instantly scroll through the options/values of many settings. Most important to me for quick and loose abstraction in photoshop is to have this ability to use my mouse scrollwheel to whiz through every blending mode with instant gratification. With Macs I am forced into a disruption of attention by having to click on the menu and select the next option each time, something I won't leave to pure muscle memory. Sure, you can kind of stick the Mac mouse pointer towards the bottom of the blending modes drop down menu and click to get a sort-of instant menu action, but it catches on the separator bars so you can't really test them all fluidly.

There was the argument I heard from my buddy in computer camp, back in '02 when he taught me some incredible tips, that you should just learn how the blending functions each work rather than relying on the scrolling. Well.. you should indeed know how each one works, but IMHO it is not practical to prevent play in a creative field.

If I'm not mistaken, it's a symptom of the OS rather than Adobe's decision.

  • Can't speak for all other PC users, but I consider it a curse when I'd rather keep scrolling to zoom. Same goes with every other instance of cursors sticking to option or dropdown boxes. If I wanted to scroll through blends, I'd keep my pointer on the dropdown.
    – nayhem
    Aug 6, 2015 at 6:45
  • If your mouse position controlled all focus then the tab button would cease to work, an awesome tool of productivity. Aug 20, 2015 at 22:34

For those who may not have received a definitive answer on this: you CAN scroll through the blend modes in Photoshop on MacOS -- confirmed working on macOS Monterey, M1 MacBook Pro.

To scroll through blend modes, click the blend mode dropdown menu but do NOT select an option just yet. With the blend mode dropdown menu fly open, use the keyboard to scroll through the list. As you scroll, the image will automatically reflect the effects of the current blend mode. Confirmed working in the layers palette and calculations menu, likely works with all instances of blend mode selection

This behavior is different from PCs, which will allow you to scroll without opening the blending mode fly-out.

  • Welcome to GD.SE!
    – Mensch
    Nov 10, 2021 at 14:38

I can scroll them on the bar of my macbook pro. It pops up when I click on the blending modes

  • 1
    hi @kersey! Welcome to GD.SE :) We try not to give one sentence answers here. Are there any more details you can add? What is the "bar" you are referring to? Aug 20, 2018 at 17:55

You can use Shift and the +- keys to cycle through on a mac.

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