Have you found yourself wanting to merge all the various layers of a photo? Here’s how to merge layers in Photoshop.
Photoshop works with layers. At some point, you will want to flatten all the layers to one, in order to import the file. The issue with flattening, however, is that it causes you to lose all the layers.
Once you save and close the document, there is no way to regain all the separate layers that you once had. A better solution is merging all your layers to a single separate layer, while still maintain all the original ones. However, there is no ‘Merge All Layers’ option that is directly present. This guide will tell you exactly how to merge layers in Photoshop.
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How to Merge Layers in Photoshop Step-by-Step
The idea is to keep the existing layers, and make a copy of the merged layers
Step 1: Choose the Top Layer
Whenever you add a new layer in Photoshop, it is always placed on top of the current layer. You will want your merged layer to appear at the top of the layer hierarchy. For this reason, you must select the top layer in the layers panel. Just click on the top layer in the panel to select it.
Step 2: Merge Copy of All Layers onto New Layer
Method 1 – Merge all the layers
This method helps you merge all the layers present in the layer panel. There is a secret shortcut on the keyboard to use the merge function. On Windows, you can get it by using Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E. On Mac, you replace the Ctrl key with Command and the Alt key with Option. So the shortcut will be Shift + Command + Option + E. It is just pressing all the modifier keys, along with the letter E.
If you now look at the Layers panel, you will now see that there is a new layer at the top of all the original layers. This new layer is a merged copy of all the other layers present.
Method 2 – Merge selected layers
Look for the Layers option in the menu panel. If you can’t find it, then press F7 on your keyboard or choose Windows in the menu bar. Then click on Layers. This will bring up the LAyers panel on your screen.
Select the layers that you wish to merge together in the layer panel. Remember to hold the Ctrl key to select more than a single layer at a time. Once you have selected all the layers, right-click on any one of them. A drop down will appear on your screen. Depending on the type of layer, you can either select Merge Layers or Merge Shapes. Then press Return (on Mac) or Enter (on Windows). Alternatively, you can just press Ctrl + E (Windows) or Command + E (Mac) on your keyboard.
Note that this option will not be visible for certain types of layers such as text boxes. Instead, look for the Layers panel options in the top-right corner. On clicking it, a drop down menu will appear. Here, you will find the Merge Layers or Merge Shapes option to merge all the selected layers.
Step 3: Rename the New Layer
The new layer that is created has a system generated name. It is always a good idea to have a more descriptive name, so that you know that is the merged layer. To rename a layer, double click on its name. Then rename it to something that you or someone else will easily understand, such as ‘Merged’.
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How to Merge Layers in Photoshop: Visible Layers
Let’s see how to merge only visible layers.
Photoshop has the feature to hide certain layers from being viewed. The small eye icon to the left of the layer in the Layer panel will help you enable or disable this feature. A hidden layer will have an icon as a black box. It is then possible to merge only the visible layers.
Hide the layers that you don’t want in the final merged layer. Right click on any of the visible layers. A drop down will appear. Choose the Merge Visible option. Alternatively, you can pres the Shift + Ctrl + E or Shift + Cmd + E (Mac) to do the same.
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That’s all there is to merging. With this method, you avoid having to flatten your layers and lose out on some crucial information. The merge method is something that can completely replace flatten, allowing you to revert modifications and changes easily whenever you want.