Managing Layers

In an ideal world, Photoshop would read your mind and do all the mundane work behind the scenes so that you could concentrate on creating masterpieces. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world and sometimes have no option but to perform the mundane tasks ourselves; such as selecting layers, moving them, or protecting the content from being accidentally altered. The Layers palette contains some buttons and commands to help you manage layers, but, unfortunately, it can't read your mind—yet. However, you can employ keyboard shortcuts to add a bit of spice to the humdrum routines. The next sections discuss the various options on offer for managing layers.

As you work on a multilayered document, you will want to turn off the visibility of some layers to see how a layer or layers interact or to create variations of the composition you are working on. For example, you might have a button with layer effects applied on one layer and three text layers with different names for each button state, such as normal, over, and down. By turning off layer effects and text layers in various combinations, you can view the different states and save each one by using slices or Layer Comps, without having to duplicate layers.

Toggling the visibility for single layers is obvious and straightforward; simply click the eye icon next to the layer thumbnail. However, what is not so obvious is that you can also toggle the visibility of multiple layers by holding down Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) and then clicking the same visibility icon. This feature can be very helpful in many situations.

When you have grouped layers and the groups are nestled, you can hide the actual tiles by clicking the triangles to the left of the folder icon. That again is obvious and straightforward, but what is not so obvious is if you hold down Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) and click the triangle at the top of a group, all the nestled groups will close. In contrast, holding down Ctrl+Alt (Windows), ^+Opt (Mac OS) will close the top-level group and all the layers in the nestled groups.

If you have created a clipping group and wish to see just the layers in the group, Alt-click (Windows), Opt-click (Mac OS) on the layer that is being clipped (that is, the top layer in the group).

Although text layers are named automatically and you have the option of naming new layers, you still face occasions when you need to rename a layer or layer group. You have two ways of renaming a layer or a group. One, double-click the name itself and enter new text. Two, hold down Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) and double-click the layer tile. This will bring up the Layer Properties dialog box and allow you to rename and to assign a color (see next section) in one go (Figure 6-6).

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