Top 5 improvements to layers in Photoshop CS6

With the release of Photoshop CS6 Adobe made some small but really nice improvements to the layers palette. Today I am going to review my top 5 improvements that Adobe made to layers in Photoshop CS6.

1) Search! – This has been something that I have wanted for a very long time and am so happy its finally here. I am sure more illustrators and designers will be happy to have this compared to photographers but it still will be very helpful for certain workflows for me. Mainly when I design an album I have many images on the canvas and lots of design elements like lines, shapes, text, etc… This can easily add up to 20+ layers and is very cumbersome to go through to find the correct layer that I need to edit. Now you have 6 different ways that you can search your layers:


– Search by Kind. Here you will be able to search your layers by the following type of layers: Pixel type, adjustment layers, text, shapes or smart objects.
– Search by name. Perform a quick search based on the name of the layer.
– Search by effect. Say you want to quickly find all layers that have had a drop shadow applied, just use search by effect and select drop shadow.
– Search by mode. Use the layer blend mode to filter your results. Many times i’ll blend an image with the overlay mode and can pull up all layers with the overlay mode from here.
– Search by attribute. Here you can search by layer attribute like if the layer is linked, locked, has a layer mask applied or many other attributes.
– Search by color. If you tag your layers with colors you can easily use this search to filter a specific color tag.

2) Reveal/Hide effects on multiple layers. One of my biggest pet peeves with Photoshop when working on albums is I will have a large amount of layers and many of the layers will have effects on them. When I have a few effects per layer this makes the layer list really long. I would normally have to click the triangle on the right of each layer to hide the effects and clean up my layers menu. Now if you select multiple layers and click the triangle to hide the effects all layers you have selected will have the effects collapsed. Another cool shortcut is to click Option and then the triangle to collapse all effects for every layer. Click Option –> Triangle again to expand all.

3) Multi Select to modify blend modes. This is another really big time saver in my opinion. If you need to select a few different layers and change the blend mode now just Shift-Click to select multiple layers and then using the blend mode drop down make your new selection. This blend mode will adjust all layers you have highlighted!

4) Duplicate multiple layers at once. Another good addition to what you can do with multiple select now is duplicating multiple layers. Just select multiple layers and then click Command-J (mac) or Control-J (pc) to duplicate all layers selected.

5) Clipping a layer to a group. Another keyboard shortcut that they added was the ability to clip a layer outside of a group to the group below it. To do this just move a layer directly above a group and Option-Click on the line in between the layers. This will automatically create a clipping mask that applies to the entire group.

6) New icon for layers using Blend If. If you use the Blend If option under layer options you will now see a new icon directly in the layers palette to indicate this. It makes it very easy to spot out that you used the blending options by including this in the main layers view.


Also if you want to check out some of our other Photoshop CS 6 article here are a few of the top ones:

Content Aware Move Tool in Photoshop CS6

Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Tilt Shift Blur

New Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CS6

What are your favorite new features in Photoshop CS6? Haven’t made the switch yet, let me know why in the comments below and lets chat.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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