Photoshop unlock a layer Unlocking layers in Photoshop

When you first start working with layers in Photoshop, you’ll discover something about the background layer. The layer is locked which means a few things. Firstly, you can’t move the layer anywhere else in the layer stack because it’s locked. Secondly, while you can use the eraser on the bottom layer – because it is the bottom layer the eraser doesn’t erase to transparent and instead it erases to the background color. You also can’t add a layer mask to the background layer again, because it is locked and it cannot have any transparency applied to it.

When used on a Background layer the Background Eraser and Magic Eraser might look like they are making the background layer transparent but they are, in fact, first converting the background layer into a regular layer unlocking it in the process and then they perform the erase.

You will see that the background layer of a document is locked if you open the layers palette by choosing Window > Layers. There is a lock icon opposite the layer.

Photoshop how to unlock a layer step1 Unlocking layers in Photoshop

There are a few ways to unlock the layer in Photoshop (these also work in Photoshop Elements). The first one is to double click on the background layer and a New Layer dialog will appear. If you want to rename the background layer, type a name for it, otherwise just click Ok and the background layer will be converted to Layer 0. You’ll see that the lock icon is now removed allowing you to add a layer mask to the layer and delete content from it as well as move it elsewhere in the layer stack.

Another way to unlock a locked layer is to drag the lock icon onto the trashcan. You can also right click the background layer and choose Layer from background and click Ok.

Photoshop how to unlock a layer step2 Unlocking layers in Photoshop

Helen Bradley

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