Knowing how to duplicate layers is one of the most useful skills you can learn in Photoshop – it saves you time and overall makes your editing life easier, particularly when dealing with complex layer masks.
But just as with any other action in Photoshop, there are many possible ways to do it. This article has a few quick ways to duplicate a layer or multiple layers in Photoshop, including keyboard shortcuts so that you can be fully covered in all situations.
Shortcut to Duplicate Layer in Photoshop
1. Control + J
You can use Control +J (Windows) or Command + J (Mac) to duplicate a layer, after you have selected your layer in the layers palette.
How to Quickly Duplicate Layers in Photoshop
There are a few other ways to duplicate layers in Photoshop which are also useful to know as they can be more powerful, such as allowing you to duplicate a layer into a new document.
If you right-click on the layer in the layers palette, then you can select Duplicate Layer from the menu.
3. With Alt / Option
If you hold Alt on Windows, or Option on Mac, then drag the layer you want to duplicate to another position in your layers palette, the layer will be automatically duplicated into the new position.
4. Use the New Layer Button
You can also click and drag the layer down to the New Layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. This will create a copy of the layer next to the current layer.
5. Use the Layer Menu
Finally, the most powerful way to duplicate a layer in Photoshop, as it also lets you copy the layer into a new document, is by using the layer menu.
With the layer that you want to copy selected, follow the menu Layer -> Duplicate Layer.
You will get a Duplicate Layer popup, which gives you more control over the duplication than any of the other methods.
The default option here is to duplicate your layer into the same document (here named _MG_6268.tif) with the same name as the original layer, but with ‘copy’ appended.
If you want to do this, then click OK and the layer will be duplicated as we have seen before.
But you can use this popup to change the document that you copy the layer to, as well as the new layers name.
If you expand the Document drop-down menu, then you can select any of your currently open documents to copy the layer to, or choose a new document.
Then click OK and the layer will be copied to your new / existing document.
How to Copy Multiple Layers in Photoshop
Sometimes, you want to be able to copy multiple layers in Photoshop at once. You can easily do that using any of the methods we have already seen, but first, you need to select all the layers you want to duplicate.
The two most useful keyboard shortcuts to select multiple layers are Ctrl / Cmd and Shift.
If your layers that you want to copy are all adjacent in the layers palette, then click on the first layer, hold down Shift and click on the last layer. This will select every layer in-between the two that you clicked on.
But if your layers that you wish to duplicate are not adjacent, then you can select them all by holding down Ctrl on Windows or Cmd on Mac, and clicking on each individual layer.
You can then use any of the copy commands that we saw earlier in the article to duplicate your layers.
As with anything in Photoshop, there are a number of good ways to duplicate a layer:
- Use Command / Control +J with the layer selected
- Right-click and select Duplicate Layer from the menu
- Hold down Option / Alt and drag the layer to a new position
- Drag to the New Layer Button in the layers palette
- Use the Layer Menu -> Duplicate Layer option
The easiest by far is to use the keyboard shortcut, but make sure that you have your layer selected in the layers palette first, in order for this to work.
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