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How to Merge Layers in Photoshop Non-Destructively

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If you wanted to know simple and also non-destructive methods about how to merge layers in Photoshop or you can say how to combine layers in Photoshop then this article is for you.

Sometimes, we are working with multi-layered Photoshop documents and we often reach the time when we have to flatten the picture.

The reason could you want to apply a filter on the whole of the picture or most of the time we need to merge layers of the image so that we can sharpen the image for print or for uploading to the web.

Sometimes we want to merge layers to move the image to another layout or design.

But in Photoshop if you flatten your image layer then there is no going back, so simply merging all layers is not the solution we are looking for.

When we flatten the image, we lose all of our layers. And if you save and then close the document after merging layers of the image, those layers are lost forever because we cannot do Undo command, later on, to come to the point where layers are not merged.

So in this article, first I’ll show you how to merge layers in Photoshop and then I’ll show you an entirely non-destructive way to merge layers in Photoshop, one that’s better.

You’ll learn how to merge your layers onto a separate layer and keep your existing layers intact!

You need to know a secret keyboard shortcut. And while not everyone likes keyboard shortcuts but believe me this one is definitely worth knowing.

While not everyone is a fan of keyboard shortcuts so we will also learn to do it accordingly.

Let’s go For It!

Ways Photoshop Merge Layers Simply

One of the most essential parts of Photoshop image editing is Layers because they allow you to keep different parts of your image (like text or shapes) separate from each other to edit them accordingly.

If you can’t find the Layers panel in the menu on the right bottom of the Photoshop window, you have to restore the layers panel.

To do that go to Window > Layers and make sure the “Layers” menu panel is visible or you can just press F7 on your keyboard to make it visible.

RELATED: Learn How to Unmerge Layers in Photoshop in Simple Ways.

Selecting Layers in Photoshop

There are more than one ways to merge layers in Photoshop, but the easiest and quickest method is to merge several layers together.

In this process, you have your currently selected layers and Photoshop combines them. After that when you do any changes to that merged layer this will now affect all of the merged components.

In order to merge all selected layers in Photoshop together, in the Layers panel on the right, you have to select the layers you want to merge by holding the Ctrl key and selecting all of them you want. 

Ctrl (On Windows) or Command (On Mac) key allows you to select more than one layer at a time just like you select more than on folders in Windows.

Merging Selected layers in Photoshop

After you select the layers you want to merge, right-click one of the selected layers and click on “Merge Layers” or “Merge Shapes”, depending on the type of layers to merge them in Photoshop.

Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + E (On Windows) or Command + E (On Mac) on your keyboard to merge selected layers.

This option won’t be visible for certain layers (like text boxes) when you right-click. Instead, you’ll need to press the Layers panel options menu in the top-right corner.

Press the Layers panel options menu button in the top-right to access layer merging options

From here, press “Merge Layers” or “Merge Shapes” to merge your selected layers together.

After selecting your layers, you can also go to the Layer menu on the top of the Photoshop document then press Merge Layers. This is how to combine layers in Photoshop that are selected.

Merging All Visible Layers

So what if we have a lot of layers in our Layers Panel and we don’t want to select them one by one and merge them all so here the second method comes in, in which you can merge all of the layers in Layer Panel except all invisible layers means it will not merge the hidden layers.

In Photoshop you can hide certain layers from view and do that you have to press the Eye symbol icon next to a layer in the Layers panel.

If the eyes are visible then the layer is also visible and if the eye is not visible then layers will be hidden.

Hidden layers will appear with a black box icon, while visible layers will appear with the Eye symbol. With certain layers hidden, you can then merge all visible layers together.

In order to do this, hide the layers you wish to leave untouched, right-click one of the visible layers (or press the Layers panel options menu button in the top-right), and then press the “Merge Visible” option.

You can also go to the Layer menu at the top of the Photoshop document then click on Merge Visible Layers.

You can also press the Shift + Ctrl + E (On Windows) or Shift + Command + E (On Mac) keys on your keyboard to quickly perform this type of layer merge.

Merging All Visible Layers

Flattening All Layers in Photoshop

Only certain types of image files allow you to use layers.

Utilizing layers makes it simpler to alter your picture, however, if you like, you can combine each of your layers together. Photoshop will do this naturally if you save your picture as a PNG or JPG record, yet assuming you need to do it physically, you can.

In order to do that make sure that all hidden layers are visible. These will otherwise be ignored and removed.

To make any hidden layer visible, press the sunken square icon next to the layer in the Layers panel.

From here, click the “Flatten Image” option.

Right-click a layer and click Flatten Image to merge all layers together in Photoshop.

You can also go to the Layer menu on the top of the Photoshop document then click on Flatten Image.

If you have any hidden layers, you’ll need to confirm whether or not you wish to discard them. Press “OK” to do so or “Cancel” to stop the process.

If you have hidden layers as you attempt to flatten an image in Photoshop, press OK to confirm or Cancel to stop the process

In the event that you decide “OK” or on the other hand if every one of your layers is noticeable before you start, your layers will combine and you’ll at this point don’t have the option to move or alter individual things.

Assuming you need to undo this, basically press Ctrl + Z on your console following you consolidate the layers or press Edit > Undo all things being equal.

Flattening All Layers in Photoshop

Ways Photoshop Merge Layers Non-Destructively

Now we know simple ways to merge layers but if we want to merge them non-destructively, we have to do a trick so that after merging layers into one layer we still have the separate layers to work on.

Merging By Smart Object

The first method to merge layers non-destructively is to make them Smart Object and then edit that Smart Object.

So in order to do that, we have to select all the layers we want to merge by holding the Ctrl key.  Ctrl (On Windows) or Command (On Mac) key allows you to select more than one layer at a time just like you select more than on folders in Windows.

Then after selecting your layers, right-click on one of the selected layers in Layer Panel and click on Convert to Smart Object.

This will convert all your layers into one layer and make it a smart object.

Now if we want all layers back to edit them a little bit again we just have to double-click on the thumbnail of the Smart Object layer. This will open a new document and show all of the layers separately that we’ve merged before.

Merging By Grouping

The second method to merge layers non-destructively is to make two groups of the same layers and merge one group to one layer and keep the second group to use later.

In order to do this, we have to again select all the layers we want to merge by holding the Ctrl key and after selecting layers Press Ctrl + G (On Windows) or Command + G (On Mac) to group them in one group.

Now make a duplicate of that group by right-clicking on it and clicking on Duplicate Layer.

You can also press Ctrl + J (On Windows) or Command + J (On Mac) to make duplicates.

Then select the duplicated group and press Ctrl + E (On Windows) or Command + E (On Mac) to convert the group into one layer.

Now you have your layers merged in one layer and also have our one group of all separate layers.

how to merge layers in photoshop

Merging By Keyboard Shortcut

The last method is the quickest method to merge all layers of the Layers Panel into a New Layer.

You just have to make sure all the layers you want to merge are visible and then press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E (On Windows) or Command + Shift + Option + E (On Mac) to merge all visible layers to a new layer and keep all the layer separate.

In this way, we have all of our layers and also a new layer in which all layers are merged.

Related: Learn how to Vectorize a logo in Photoshop and change low-resolution files to high res.

Conclusion

Here is how Photoshop merge layers in a non-destructive manner. The first three methods are just how simply Photoshop merge layers and the second three methods are showing how to merge layers in Adobe Photoshop non-destructively so that we can use those separate layers again.


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