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How to merge layers in Photoshop

When editing your images in Photoshop, the layer section can start getting filled with new layers as you apply additional changes via the program’s numerous tools. As such, keeping track of all your layers and editing them one by one can be a pain. Knowing how to merge layers together can simplify the editing process a lot.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • Adobe Photoshop

  • PC

Using the Merge Layers tool

What does merging layers mean in Photoshop? When you merge layers within Photoshop, you're putting all of the visual information from multiple layers onto a single one. This can mean overwriting visual information, but the look won't be any different from before you merged, assuming you had all layers visible at the time.

This can be super useful if you want to apply effects to multiple layers at once. For example, if you have multiple layers consisting of an arrow image, and you want to add an outline to all of them in order for the arrows to stand out, merging them all means you can add that outline border to each arrow without having to repeat the process for each arrow/layer.

Furthermore, as we touched on above, you can remove layers you no longer need access to by merging them all. As a result, this will de-clutter your Layers section.

Step 1: Within the Layers section on Photoshop, hold the Control key on your keyboard and then click the layers of your choice.

Selecting multiple layers in Photoshop in order to use the Merge Layers tool.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Now click the Layers tab and select the Merge layers field.

Merging layers will remove the ability to edit a specific layer that you selected, so only use the Merge tool if you’re sure you won’t have to apply any adjustments to those layers in the future.

The Merge Layers option in Photoshop.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Adding layers into a group before merging

The grouping feature on Photoshop can insert certain layers into a group. If you have a considerable amount of layers present for a particular image, then using this method can arrange multiple sets of layers into their own folders, which is particularly useful for reference purposes.

Step 1: Click the layers of your choice, and then select the Layer tab. Click Group layers.

The Group Layers option in Photoshop, which is used for adding certain layers within its own folder.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: After you’ve added the layers into a group, you can then proceed to merge them within that group. Simply repeat the steps we’ve explained above in regard to the Merge layers tool.

For more tutorials for other common functions in Photoshop, check out our guides on how to create a layer mask and how make a background transparent.

If you're using an iPad and have Photoshop installed, we also have a detailed guide on how to use the image editing program on Apple's tablet.

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