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Photoshop Quick Tip: Finding Layers Quickly

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Photoshop Quick Tip: Finding Layers Quickly

Now this tip might be total common sense to some, but I’m going to put it out there for those not aware. When you’re in Photoshop and you have a document, like a web mock up, with a ton of layers it can be hard to find the specific layer you are looking for.

If you find yourself in this little dilemma, click on the selection tool at the top of the toolbar. Right underneath the task bar you should see the option “Auto-Select” with a dropdown for Layer or Group. Make sure this is selected and then click on the item in the layer you are looking for. If you have Layer selected, it will take you right to that layer in the Layers palette and highlight it. If you have Group selected, it will take you directly to the group that layer is in and highlight it in the Layers palette.



It must be noted that when using this technique you’ll need to click on the actual pixels in order to interact with the layer. Without Auto-Select activated, the Move tool will move the pixels in a layer regardless of where one clicks. With Auto-Select activated, you’ll need to click on actual pixels to do this, very similar to how one interacts with object in Adobe Illustrator. If you stop and think about it for a second, it has to work this way.

NOTE: Right next to the Auto-select checkbox is a checkbox for “Show Transform Controls”. This will put a small transform control box around the layer you are selecting so you can see it better—similar to using the Edit -> Free Transform command. It is also really helpful for changing the size of objects in a layer.


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Morten F Christensen

    I always hold Ctrl (pc) and click on the thing I need to work with. That jumps directly to the specific layer. It can be a bit difficult when the layers start to pile up, but it's the fastest way if you're a shortcut junkie

  • cidic

    or just name your layers and right/cmd click on it and it will list your layers by name

  • libertiner

    works fantastic:) Thank You

  • John

    yeah, ctrl+click works really well, and less of a learning curve if you are used to dragging layers without clicking on pixels.

  • Adam_Wagner

    I've always been a “toggle auto-select” guy like Adam, but I just tried ctrl+clicking. Works great and no checkbox to fiddle with.

  • George Coghill

    The odd thing about your method is that one must again click on actual pixels to get the full list of layers to show up. This seems almost the same as hitting Ctrl (PC)/Cmd (Mac) to immediately jump to the layer, without the added step of having to select a contextual menu item.

  • George Coghill

    I too use the Ctrl (PC)/Cmd (Mac) method. In fact, until Adam wrote up this tip I wasn't even aware of that Auto-Select option for the Move tool.

  • andysowards

    Nice write up! I don't think i've ever seen this mentioned in a tutorial, I kinda stumbled upon it from messing around enough in Photoshop, but I always keep auto select checked, drives me crazy to click on something and not instantly select the layer :)

  • rorym

    Nice tip, been using it for ages. Never knew about ctrl+clicking though which is even better…aren't these blogs great for sharing. thanks

  • Adam Law

    I like how your method also will allow you to select named groups.

  • Alessandro Mingione

    This is a great tip.
    Have been using this for quite a while! I also like the fact that you can select not only layers, but entire groups, which is great for webdesign purposes (if you group your layers, obviously, and that's something everyone should do).

  • Mike

    This has been a long time coming. Ever since upgrading from PS7 to CS3 I've been a bit bothered by the default behaviour of ctrl+click to go to the group, instead of the individual layer. Finally I know how to change that.

  • Luis Lopez

    Excellent turorial, i like the way you explain it, in a really easy way. I learnt the trick some time a go and this kind of tips help me a lot with my productivity.

  • kaplangdesign

    WOW thats really cool and also very helpful, thanks :)

  • Matt

    Thanks for this nice work!
    dizi izle

  • Joseph Jerenstein

    holy cow dude thank you im so stupid this probably wasted countless hours when i right click and do trial and error “ok did i pick the right one let me see” 

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank yoU !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • disqus_owfybst05X

    I knew this existed but didn’t know where
    Can’t assume we know anything Thank you so much

  • kizi 2

    This was helpful thank you.

  • Friv

    Thank You. works fantastic:)

  • Ian Garcez

    great tip, thanks