Merging Layers

Layers consume resources, just as surely as a glutton consumes sweetmeats. The more layers you create, the more your resources will be consumed and, depending on the size of the file, this can amount to a substantial loss. If you find that you need to conserve file size, RAM, or scratch disk space, you can merge the layers that you are sure you will not need as standalone layers in the future. Here are some "dos and don'ts" for merging layers.

■ You can merge two adjacent layers by selecting the top layer and then choosing Merge Down from the Layer or palette menu, or Ctrl+E (Windows), (Mac OS). The selected layer merges with the layer immediately below it. Furthermore, you can Right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) the layer tile and then select Merge Down from the contextual menu.

■ To merge visible layers, choose Merge Visible from the Layer or palette menu, or Ctrl+Shift+E (Windows), ^ + Shift+E (Mac OS).

■ To merge to a new layer and leave original layers untouched, hold down Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) and then choose Merge Visible from the Layer or palette menu, or press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E (Windows), ^+Opt+Shift+E (Mac OS). Doing so creates a new layer and stamps the content from the visible layers into it.

■ You cannot use adjustment, fill, shape, and type layers as the target layers.

■ You can merge adjustment and fill layers, but you cannot merge two layers containing type or shapes, at least not without rasterizing them first.


After you have merged layers, you cannot unmerge them without going back in history, which may invalidate changes you have made since the merge. If you're at all unsure, create a duplicate document (Image ^ Duplicate) and save it as insurance. You can drag the original layers back into the working document if need be.

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