Here are some tips and shortcuts for working more effectively with Layer Groups:
- To create an empty Layer Group, click the Create Layer Group (the folder) icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. The Group will be added above the currently targeted layer. If no layers are targeted, Photoshop will add the group to the top of the layer stack.
- Command + G (Mac) | Control + G (Win) creates a new Layer Group while simultaneously placing selected layers into that group. The group will be added above the topmost currently targeted layer.
- Command + Shift + G (Mac) | Control + Shift + G (Win) will ungroup layers.
Adding Layers to Layer Groups
- When adding a layer to a Layer Group, Photoshop positions the layer at the top of the layer stack (with in the group).
- Adding the shift key when releasing the mouse will position the layer at the bottom of the stack (within the group).
- When changing the stacking order layers in the Layers panel, I found it difficult to predict if the layer I was dragging was going to land within a Layer Group or outside of it. In the example below, I want to drag the “paper” layer above the “walnuts” layer, but I didn’t want to include it within the “texture” Layer Group.
- If you look carefully at the next illustration you can see that the hand icon is positioned over the bottom layer in the Layer Group. If I release the mouse at that point, the “paper” layer would be added within the “texture” Layer Group.
- Instead, if I position the curser a bit lower (below the baseline of the Layer Group), and release the mouse (as it’s positioned in the next illustration), the layer will be repositioned above the “walnuts” layer but not within the “texture” Layer Group.
- Note: Another way to be sure that the “paper” layer wasn’t included in the texture Layer Group would have been to close the Layer Group before repositioning the layer.
Duplicating Layer Groups
- Command + J (Mac) | Control + J (Win) will duplicate the selected Layer Group(s).
- Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the Layer Group (in the Layers panel) to simultaneously duplicating and repositioning a Layer Group.
- Control -click (Mac) | right mouse -click (Win) on the Layer Group and select Duplicate Group.
Deleting Layer Groups in Photoshop
- With the Layer Group selected, tap the Delete key or Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the trash can icon.
- To delete a Layer Group but keep the layers, choose Layer > Delete > Group or click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with an option to delete “Group Only” (which ungroups the layers within the group and removes the Layer Group while leaving the Layers in tack).
- Command -drag (Mac) | Control -drag (Win) a Layer Group to the trash can icon to delete a Layer Group without deleting it’s contents.
Selecting Layer Groups
- To automatically select Layer Groups using the Move tool, enable the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.
Nesting Layer Groups
- You can nest layer Layer Groups up to 10 groups deep. That should help organize even the most complex documents!
Displaying the Contents of Layer Groups in Photoshop
- Command (Mac) | Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group to expand/collapse all Layer Groups in the document.
- Option (Mac) | Alt (Win) -click the disclosure triangle to expand/collapse all groups nested within the current Layer Group.
- Option + Command (Mac) | Alt + Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle to expand and collapse all groups (nested or not).
- Control (Mac) | right mouse (Win) -click the Group’s disclosure triangle and choose “Close/Open this Group” or “Close/Open all Other Groups”.
And, if you’re looking for eight reasons to use Layer Groups, be sure to watch this short video that I recently posted: