In a flattened image, all visible layers are merged into the background, which greatly reduces the file size. Flattening an image discards all hidden layers and fills the remaining transparent areas with white. In most cases, you won't want to flatten a file until you have finished editing the individual layers.
Note: Converting an image between some color modes flattens the file. Be sure to save a copy of your file that includes all layers if you want to edit the original image after the conversion.
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