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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Link Layers in Photoshop

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Read Time: 3 min

In this short tutorial, I'll show you how to link layers in Photoshop. This way, you'll be able to edit them together without having to select them every time!

  • How to link layers in Photoshop
  • How to connect layers in Photoshop
  • How to link adjustment layers in Photoshop
  • How to unlink Photoshop linked layers
  • What Photoshop linked layers are useful for

If you select a layer, it is possible to transform it in many ways—move it, rotate it, or resize it. If you want to transform multiple layers at the same time, you can select them with the Control or Shift keys. But then you have to deselect them if you want to edit another layer separately, and select them again afterwards.

transfoming mutliple layerstransfoming mutliple layerstransfoming mutliple layers

One solution is to put all these layers in a group—but what if they're not supposed to be all in one place in the layer stack? This is what the Photoshop linking layers function is for. Here's how to use it!

Step 1

Select the layers that you want to link—either with the Control key or the Shift key.

select both layersselect both layersselect both layers

Step 2

Click the little chain link icon on the bottom of the panel. Similar icons will appear next to the selected layers.

click the chain link iconclick the chain link iconclick the chain link icon

Step 3

Now, every time you select one of these layers and transform it, the other one will be transformed too!

select one layerselect one layerselect one layer
transform both layerstransform both layerstransform both layers

If you want to temporarily unlink a layer, hold the Shift key and click the chain link icon. To bring the link back, just click the icon again.

how to unlink layer temporarilyhow to unlink layer temporarilyhow to unlink layer temporarily

If you want to permanently unlink the layers, just select one of the linked layers and click the chain link icon on the bottom.

how to unlock layershow to unlock layershow to unlock layers

3. How to Link Adjustment Layers in Photoshop

There's another type of "layer linking" in Photoshop, more accurately called "clipping". When layer A is clipped to layer B, it means the effect of layer A is restricted to the content of layer B. This can be very useful in adjustment layers—it lets you, for example, change the color of one layer only. Here's how to link adjustment layers in Photoshop this way!

Step 1

Add a new adjustment layer above the layer you want to link it to.

add an adjustment layeradd an adjustment layeradd an adjustment layer
adjust hueadjust hueadjust hue
unlcipped layerunlcipped layerunlcipped layer
adjustment layer effectadjustment layer effectadjustment layer effect

Step 2

Now click the first icon (from the left) on the bottom. You can also use the shortcut Control-Alt-G, or hold the Alt key and click the line between both layers. The effect will be the same—the upper one will be linked (clipped) to the lower one.

clip the layerclip the layerclip the layer
layer clippedlayer clippedlayer clipped
clipped adjustment layer effectclipped adjustment layer effectclipped adjustment layer effect

That's All!

Now you know how to link two layers in Photoshop (or more, of course!). You can also link adjustment layers to other layers by clipping.

And if you liked the bird illustrations used in this tutorial, you can find them on Envato Elements.

how to link layers in photoshophow to link layers in photoshophow to link layers in photoshop

Recommended Tutorials

So you've learned how to connect layers in Photoshop, but don't go yet—there are many other cool Photoshop tricks you can learn on our site:

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