Manage layers and groups

Managing layers and groups keeps your project organized. You can rename layers, color-code to easily locate similar layers, and delete and export layers as needed.

Rename a layer or layer group

As you add layers or layer groups to an image, it’s helpful to give them names that reflect their content. Descriptive names make layers easy to identify in the Layers panel.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Double-click the layer name or group name in the Layers panel and enter a new name. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).
    • Select the layer/group and then follow these steps:
      • Choose Layer > Rename Layer or Layer > Rename Group.
      • Enter a new name for the layer/group in the Layers panel.
      • Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

Assign a color to a layer or group

Color coding layers and groups helps you locate related layers in the Layers panel. Simply right-click the layer or group and select a color.

Rasterize layers

You cannot use the painting tools or filters on layers that contain vector data (such as type layers, shape layers, vector masks, or Smart Objects) and generated data (such as fill layers). However, you can rasterize these layers to convert their contents into a flat, raster image.

  1. Select the layers you want to rasterize, choose Layer > Rasterize, and then choose an option from the submenu:


    Rasterizes the type on a type layer. It does not rasterize any other vector data on the layer.


    Rasterizes a shape layer.

    Fill Content

    Rasterizes the fill of a shape layer, leaving the vector mask.

    Vector Mask

    Rasterizes the vector mask on a layer, turning it into a layer mask.

    Smart Object

    Converts a Smart Object into a raster layer.


    Rasterizes the current video frame to an image layer.

    3D (Extended only)

    Rasterizes the current view of 3D data into a flat raster layer.


    Rasterizes all vector data on the selected layers.

    All Layers

    Rasterizes all layers that contain vector and generated data.


    To rasterize linked layers, select a linked layer, choose Layer > Select Linked Layers, and then rasterize the selected layers.

Delete a layer or group

Deleting layers you no longer need reduces the size of your image file.


To quickly delete empty layers, choose File > Scripts > Delete All Empty Layers.

  1. Select one or more layers or groups from the Layers panel.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To delete with a confirmation message, click the Delete icon . Alternatively, choose Layers > Delete > Layer or Delete Layer or Delete Group from the Layers panel menu.
    • To delete the layer or group without confirmation, drag it to the Delete icon , Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the Delete icon, or press the Delete key.
    • To delete hidden layers, choose Layers > Delete > Hidden Layers.

    To delete linked layers, select a linked layer, choose Layer > Select Linked Layers, and then delete the layers.

Export layers

You can export all layers or visible layers to separate files.

  1. Choose File > Scripts > Export Layers To Files.

Merging layers

When you have finalized the content of layers, you can merge them to reduce the size of your image files. When you merge layers, the data on the top layers replaces any data it overlaps on the lower layers. The intersection of all transparent areas in the merged layers remains transparent.


You cannot use an adjustment or fill layer as the target layer for a merge.

In addition to merging layers, you can stamp them. Stamping allows you to merge the contents of more than one layer into a target layer while leaving the other layers intact.


When you save a merged document, you cannot revert back to the unmerged state; the layers are permanently merged.

Merge two layers or groups

  1. Make sure that the layers and groups you want to merge are visible.
  2. Select the layers and groups you want to merge.
  3. Choose Layer > Merge Layers.

You can merge two adjacent layers or groups by selecting the top item and then choosing Layer > Merge Layers. You can merge linked layers by choosing Layer > Select Linked Layers, and then merging the selected layers. You can merge two 3D layers by choosing Layer > Merge Layers; they will share the same scene and the top layer will inherit the bottom layer 3D properties (the camera views must be the same for this to be enabled).

Merge layers in a clipping mask

  1. Hide any layers that you do not want to merge.
  2. Select the base layer in the clipping mask. The base layer must be a raster layer.
  3. Choose Merge Clipping Mask from the Layers menu or the Layers panel menu.

For more information on clipping masks, see Mask layers with clipping masks.

Merge all visible layers and groups in an image

  1. Choose Merge Visible from the Layers panel or the Layers panel menu. All layers showing an eye icon  are merged.

    A visible layer must be selected to enable the Merge Visible command.

Stamp multiple layers or linked layers

When you stamp multiple selected layers or linked layers, Photoshop creates a new layer containing the merged content.

  1. Select multiple layers.
  2. Press Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Command+Option+E (Mac OS).

To stamp all visible layers, do the following:

  1. Turn visibility on for the layers you want to merge.
  2. Press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac OS).

    Photoshop creates a new layer containing the merged content.

Flatten all layers

Flattening reduces file size by merging all visible layers into the background and discarding hidden layers. Any transparent areas that remain are filled with white. When you save a flattened image, you cannot revert back to the unflattened state; the layers are permanently merged.


Converting an image between some color modes flattens the file. Save a copy of your file with all layers intact if you want to edit the original image after the conversion.

  1. Make sure that all the layers you want to keep are visible.
  2. Choose Layer > Flatten Image, or choose Flatten Image from the Layers panel menu.
Adobe logo

Sign in to your account