Ruler Tool in Photoshop Tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

Ruler tool in Photoshop - a quick guide to how to use the ruler tool feature

Youtube video tutorial on the Photoshop ruler tool, how to find the length and angle between two points.

ruler tool Photoshop

1. Where is the ruler tool

You can find the ruler tool in the toolbar though the location may vary also it maybe in the extras section.

where is the ruler tool

2. The key panels for the Ruler tool

Layers panel, info panel and measurement log panel are useful. The layers panel for the straighten option, info for the same data that is displayed along the top bar for the ruler tool, measurement log for the storage of the data from the ruler tool and you can find more about that in the measurement log notes, you can record the measurements for each apply of the ruler. The most useful line is along the top bar where you can see the X and Y start position as well as the width and height (not the end point but the difference between them) along with the angle (A) and L1 (length).

ruler tool entries

3. Ruler tool basics

Draw the ruler tool on the document, it is not added to the document's image. You can draw it from the start point to the end point and you can then see from the top bar that the length is 250 pixels etc as well as the angle of the line is -45 degrees etc. You can move the ruler points. You can have only one ruler (there is also a second line for the L2). You can select the line and re-position it. You can use the tool to measure between all kinds of different things such as dots, gradient stops, star designs, shape layers, markings and more

length of line such as the gradient length

4. Measurements with the tool

Draw from one position to another. Repeat and the line will be re-started and redrawn. The line is super thin and in black.

between shapes

5. Useful panel for ruler scale

Go to the image menu and analysis and you can set the scale. personally, I keep it 1:1

analysis for the measurements

6. Modifier - shift

There is only one modifier, hold down the shift key as you draw the line and it will be drawn at 45 degrees or 90 degrees etc

hold down the shift key to constrain the value

7. Clear

You can clear the line by clicking the clear button with the tool selected

clear the current line

8. Straighten photos / layers

You will also see an option to straighten the layer, the active layer selected. Draw the ruler to where you think the alignment of the shape / layer should be and then click the straighten. You can use this with type, you can use this with shapes, you can also use this with unlocked background layers.

straighten the active layer

9. L2

So what is L2. Well, L2 for the ruler tool only appears when you go to the start point or end point and hold down the alt / option key and drag and that will then produce another ruler line and you can then get the length from that and the angle then becomes the angle between line 1 and line 2. Sadly, line 3 and 4 etc are not available. You can still move the new line but they cannot be separated. You can shift the origin point but cannot drag it away from the end points. The end points can be re-sized and the L1 and L2 will then change.

two lines instead of one using alt / option key

You can then see the L2 active

L2 active in Photoshop