How to Duplicate a Layer in Photoshop

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Duplicating layers is one of the most useful things to know how to do, but it might not be immediately obvious to you how to copy a layer in Photoshop.

This article has a few quick ways to duplicate a layer or multiple layers in Photoshop, including keyboard shortcuts.



Shortcut to Duplicate Layer in Photoshop

Once you have selected your layer in the layers palette, then the shortcut for duplicating a layer in Photoshop is:

For Windows:

Ctrl + J

For Mac:

Cmd + J
shortcut to duplicate layer in photoshop

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.

Right-Click

If you right-click on the layer in the layers palette, then you can select Duplicate Layer from the menu.

Right-click to duplicate layer

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.

Duplicate layer with alt or option

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.

Copy a layer in Photoshop using the new layer button

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.

Duplicate layer shortcut

You will get a Duplicate Layer popup, which gives you more control over the duplication than any of the other methods.

Duplicate layer popup in Photoshop

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.

Duplicate layer in Photoshop

Then click OK and the layer will be copied to your new / existing document.

Photoshop new layer

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.

Select multiple layers in Photoshop

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.

Select layers in Photoshop

You can then use any of the copy commands that we saw earlier in the article to duplicate your layers.


Read More Photoshop Tutorials:

Remove lens flare in Photoshop

Create & Use Saturation Masks

How to blend any two photos

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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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