Updated in Photoshop 21.0 (November 2019 release)
When transforming any layer type, dragging a corner handle now scales the layer proportionally by default, indicated by the Maintain Aspect Ratio button (Link icon) in the ON state in the Options bar. To change the default transform behavior to non-proportional scaling, simply turn OFF the Maintain Aspect Ratio (Link icon) button. The Shift key, while pressed, now acts as a toggle for the Maintain Aspect Ratio button. If the Maintain Aspect Ratio button is ON, the Shift key toggles it OFF while pressed and vice versa. Photoshop remembers your last transform behavior setting—proportional or non-proportional scaling—it will be your default transform behavior when you start Photoshop the next time.
For detailed instructions, see Scale, rotate, skew, distort, apply perspective, or warp.
From the menu bar, choose Edit (Win)/Photoshop (Mac) > Preferences > General, then select Legacy Free Transform.
Transforming scales, rotates, skews, stretches, or warps an image. You can apply transformations to a selection, an entire layer, multiple layers, or a layer mask. You can also apply transformations to a path, a vector shape, a vector mask, a selection border, or an alpha channel. Transforming affects image quality when you manipulate the pixels. To apply non-destructive transformations to raster images, use Smart Objects. (See Work with Smart Objects.) Transforming a vector shape or path is always non-destructive because you’re only changing the mathematical calculations producing the object.
To make a transformation, first select an item to transform and then choose a transformation command. If necessary, adjust the reference point before manipulating the transformation. You can perform several manipulations in succession before applying the cumulative transformation. For example, you can choose Scale and drag a handle to scale, and then choose Distort and drag a handle to distort. Then press Enter or Return to apply both transformations.
Photoshop uses the interpolation method selected in the General area of the Preferences dialog box to calculate the color values of pixels that are added or deleted during transformations. This interpolation setting directly affects the speed and quality of the transformation. Bicubic interpolation, the default, is slowest but yields the best results.
You can also warp and distort raster images using the Liquify filter.
A. Original image B. Layer flipped C. Selection border rotated D. Part of object scaled
Transform submenu commands
Enlarges or reduces an item relative to its reference point, the fixed point around which transformations are performed. You can scale horizontally, vertically, or both horizontally and vertically.
Turns an item around a reference point. By default, this point is at the center of the object; however, you can move it to another location.
Slants an item vertically and horizontally.
Stretches an item in all directions.
Applies one‑point perspective to an item.
Manipulates the shape of an item.
Rotate 180, Rotate 90 CW, Rotate 90 CCW
Rotates the item by the specified number of degrees, either clockwise or counterclockwise.
Flips the item vertically or horizontally.
You cannot transform the background layer. To transform it, first convert it to a regular layer.
Updated in the October 2018 release of Photoshop CC (20.0)
All transformations are performed around a fixed point called the reference point. By default, this point is at the center of the item you are transforming. However, you can change the reference point or move the center point to a different location using the reference point locator in the options bar.
The reference point is hidden by default. To show the reference point (), click select the check box next to the reference point locator () in the options bar.
You can apply various transform operations such as Scale, Rotate, Skew, Distort, Perspective, or Warp to the selected image.
If you are transforming a shape or entire path, the Transform menu becomes the Transform Path menu. If you are transforming multiple path segments (but not the entire path), the Transform menu becomes the Transform Points menu.
When you transform a bitmap image (versus a shape or path), the image becomes slightly less sharp each time you commit a transformation; therefore, performing multiple commands before applying the cumulative transformation is preferable to applying each transformation separately.
When you finish, do one of the following to commit the transformation:
To cancel the transformation, press Esc or click the Cancel button in the options bar.
Select what you want to transform.
Choose Edit > Transform and choose one of the following commands from the submenu:
Rotate to specify degrees in the options bar
Rotate 180° to rotate by a half‑turn
Rotate 90° CW to rotate clockwise by a quarter‑turn
Rotate 90° CCW to rotate counterclockwise by a quarter‑turn
Flip Horizontal to flip horizontally, along the vertical axis
Flip Vertical to flip vertically, along the horizontal axis
If you are transforming a shape or entire path, the Transform command becomes the Transform Path command. If you are transforming multiple path segments (but not the entire path), the Transform command becomes the Transform Points command.
To repeat a transformation, choose Edit > Transform > Again.
To duplicate while transforming, hold down Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) when selecting the Transform command.
If you've transformed a Smart Object, you can reset all transformations you've previously applied by doing one of the following: