Quick Tip: Jump and Select next frame

I’ve had many request to add a button to the Animator’s Toolbar that would jump to the beginning of the next Layer or edit. I have been searching and trying to no avail but… although I can’t make it part of my toolbar (I have managed to work out a solution under Osx which is available as part of the Animator’s Toolbar Pro package. At this point I have not managed to figure out an integrated solution for Windows). There is a way to accomplish this in Photoshop. It has been there all along and it’s just a few keystrokes away!

If you’ve managed to (muscle-)memorize the “Save for web” claw-keystroke, I’m confident you will get this method into your system in no time.

The crux is that instead of a single button or keystroke you’ll be using two keyboard shortcuts in succession. Sounds cumbersome? Well… not as cumbersome as dragging the playhead to the right position then clicking the designated layer to activate it before you can draw your next frame.

So here it is:


Note: There are two ALT buttons on your keyboard. For the keyboard-shortcut to change the selected layer we’ll use the ALT-key left of the space-bar. Using the ALT-key right of the space-bar will result in moving the selected layer up or down in the layer stack.

Step one: Select the (next) layer/frame

Use (Left) ALT + ] to select the next frame/layer above
or  (Left) ALT + [  To select the previous frame/layer below.

Note: you can do this multiple times to get the right layer selected before jumping to the layer’s in-point.

Step two: Adjust playhead on the timeline

Note: You need to check “Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys” in the timeline’s fly-out menu for this to work.

Press the ⬆︎ (up-arrow) to jump to the layers in-point on the timeline.

Note: you don’t even have to let go of the left Alt key when pressing the Arrow Keys.

Another quick tip: Close the (Video) Groups you don’t want to traverse in the layers panel, otherwise you will loop through every single layer/frame inside a group.

I hope you’ll like this tip. I’m curious to hear what you’ve come up with.
Please share your own tips in the comments below.

header image: theupcycleblog.com


  1. make a photoshop action to make 2 kb shortcuts become one.. note: when recording the action, the advance playhead shortcut won’t work in actions, use the button in the timeline to advance..
    press record: (Left) ALT + ] to select layer, then hit the advance frame button : stop record

    1. The flaw in your method is that it can get out of sync. The timeline shortcut jumps to the actual in-point of the selected layer.

      I already have something figured out under Osx and I’m working on a windows solution as we speak.

    1. Hi Roei,

      Thank you for your comment and question. It’s true there is no information about the Frame Animation Timeline on the site. This is a conscious decision. Everything you can do in the Frame Animation Timeline can be done in the Video Timeline with better visual feedback and more control.

      e.g. The rotoscoping example you did in your tutorial on vimeo could be done in the Video Timeline with no more than 3 layers inside Photoshop (apart from the deflickering) without the use of After Effects

      I would recommend using the Video Timeline for every type of animation in Photoshop. With the tips mentioned in this post, even layer-animation is preferable over using the Frame Animation Timeline.

  2. Thanks for all the tips! I was looking for a solution to this, move to/select next layer/frame via shortcut, but it does not work. When I use the shortcut select next layer, it will select either a layer that is on the top (and outside…) of the video group or the video group folder itself, but not the one inside the group. Any idea why this happens?

    1. Hi Paulo,

      The only thing I can think of is that the VideoGroup folder is closed in the layers panel while traversing the layer stack. Make sure the VideoGroup folder in the layers panel is opened and showing its content and the above tip should work.

    1. I couldn’t get the hack to work for CC under windows due to Photoshop ignoring keyboard events from outside the application. You’ll have to resort to a third party application to simulate the two keystrokes from a single short-cut.

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