If you have a PSD file that consists of one main mask (masking all other layers), isn't there an easy way to save just the masked area as an image?


So I have a photograph I've edited in photoshop, mostly cropping things and moving them around. As a final step, I created a rectangular mask to crop everything (while keeping all of my layers and edit history in tact). The end result is a picture of my wife standing in a different place and cropped smaller. That is, it looks like there's a photo in the middle of the canvas with about 2-3 inches of white all around it.

Now I want to save this picture in the simplest way possible. What I ended up doing was:

  1. Save PSD file
  2. Flatten image
  3. Magic Wand > tolerance 1 > select all white area
  4. Select Inverse
  5. Cut
  6. New File
  7. Paste
  8. Save For Web as JPG
  9. Close everything, without saving


When I choose, save for web, it saves the entire canvas. I don't want the extra white "padding" all around and I don't want to manually crop it again (the mask has already done that for me). Surely there's an easy way to save only the area within the rectangular mask. Any and all suggestions welcome...

  • 1
    This isn't worth an answer on its own, but you can skip flattening at stage 2 by copy-merging at stage 5.
    – e100
    Feb 10, 2011 at 19:05

6 Answers 6


You can also select the mask (open the Layers palette, hold down the apple key, and click on the mask icon next to the layer) and then select Image→Crop.

SAVE FOR WEB (NOT JUST SAVE) or Save As if you want to keep a copy of the original.

  • 1
    this is most along the lines of what I was looking for. Is there another way to "uncrop," other than to go back one step in history?
    – gMale
    Mar 23, 2011 at 15:48
  • 1
    No, once you've cropped, you have to undo the crop action in the history. HOWEVER, if you make sure the image is a layer and not a flat image, if resize the image with Canvas Size, it retains the original image uncut, and you can "uncrop" by making the canvas size larger again. Which I only found out just now by doing it, so thank you for teaching me something. :D Mar 23, 2011 at 16:15
  • 2
    Glad I could teach you something, without actually doing anything! If only more things in life worked that way, I'd finally be more productive! :D Thanks for your help!
    – gMale
    Mar 23, 2011 at 16:18

You can use the “slice” tool (looks like an x-acto knife, below the wand):

  1. Select the rectangular area you wish to save using the slice tool.

  2. Go to “Save for web”.

  3. Use the “slice selection” tool to pick the slice(s) you wish to export, set your options and then save.

  4. In the save dialog, pick “selected slices” from the “slices” drop-down at the bottom of the dialog (in Windows at least), hit save.

No need to flatten the image, it will use all visible layers.

  • thanks for your answer. Your solution works and is a refresher on how to use the slicing tools! I wish I could award 2 answers! Unfortunately, all the slicing stuff involves a lot of steps, which would definitely be well worth it in cases where there are multiple crops in the same file. Since my case is very simple, Lauren's method was a better approach.
    – gMale
    Mar 23, 2011 at 15:57

I'd use a modified combination of your steps and Lauren's, with keyboard shortcuts (Windows shown):

  • Ctrl-S (save source file)
  • Ctrl-click on mask in layer palette (to set it as selection)
  • Ctrl-shift-C (copy merged)
  • Ctrl-N; enter; Ctrl-V (paste into a new image)
  • Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S (Save as web)
  • Ctrl-F4 to close the new image

You could also save it as a .png file with a transparent background. That would seem to be the simplest solution. then you could bring it onto a .psd file as its own layer and not have to deal with the mask. Down side is that you wouldn't be able to edit the mask afterwards.


Just use the crop tool, select area with it, press enter, and save. You can adjust the area after selecting, you'll end up having maybe 1 or 2 pixels of white if you wan't to be really fast about it and not to zoom in to get it exactly fit.
- Now after saving you can CTRL+ALT+Z to the point where the image wasn't cropped so you can still carry on working on it.

Also, CTRL+Shift+C (copy merged) copies only non-100%-transparent areas, so just CTRL-A to select all, CTRL+Shift+C to copy it and in the new file dialog it has already set the dimensions according to the copied area. This way is slower but produces exact results if you have masked areas pure black (Useful if you're making something like favicons where you wan't to maximize the use of space, or web layout stuff which requires precision).


Custom Shapes

Make a new action.

  1. Right click the mask and select "add mask to selection"
  2. Go to your paths tab and click "make path from selection" it's the icon next to the dashed circle right side.
  3. Click edit and define custom shape and name it whatever you like FYI put the dimensions in the name.

To use it just select the custom shape tool then go to the path panel and make a selection from path then click mask on your layer and it will add it automatically.

Hope this helps. :P


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