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How to Select All Layers in Photoshop

Published: 14/06/2023

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Layers let you work on an image's components without permanently altering the original picture. However, there may be instances where you need to move several layers at once, causing some disarray when not done properly. This guide explains how to select all layers in Photoshop so you can work on multiple layers. 

How to Select All Layers in Photoshop

The quickest way to select all layers in Photoshop is to navigate to the Layers Pane. From there, select the layer that is on the top, hold the Shift key, and then select the remaining layers. Another way is to hold down CMD/CTRL and click on the target layers.

Many professional photographers use layers extensively. You can select all layers using various methods depending on how you wish to manipulate them. Below, I will explain each technique to make your layer selection effortless.

Method 1: Select All Layers in the Layers Panel

On the right-hand side of the document window, each layer has a thumbnail along with its name in the Layers panel. The list of layers is shown in the appearance order. This means the top layer gets listed on top, whereas the background layer is the last. 

  • If you want to select all of these layers in the panel, click on the top layer. 
  • While holding down the SHIFT key, click on the last layer. This will give you a consecutive selection. 
  • Alternatively, hold down the CTRL key on Windows or CMD key on Mac and click on the layers to select them all.
Using keyboard shortcuts to select all layers
  • You can click on one layer in the panel, then go to the Select Menu and choose All Layers. This option will leave out the background layer and select the rest. The reason why the background layer isn’t a part of the selection is that it is locked.
  • Simply unlock the background layer by clicking on the little padlock beside its name.
  • Now go to Select, and click on All Layers to include the background in the selection.
Selecting All Layers in the Layers Panel

Method 2: Select All Layers Using the Move Tool

The Move tool provides immense utility while you are editing in Photoshop CC. It allows you to easily select an object and move it around the document window. 

You can access the move tool by tapping V on your keyboard or choosing the icon in the toolbar. You can use the Move tool to select all the layers in two ways.

Selecting all layers using the Move tool

Auto Select

When you select the Move tool, you will see an Auto Select checkbox in the options bar above. 

  • Click on the checkbox to enable auto-select and select Layers from the drop-down menu beside it. 
  • Select a single layer by clicking on it in the image window or multiple layers by holding down the Shift key while you select the images. Auto Select is handy when working on a complex image with multiple layers.
  • Select all but a few layers in the image. You can lock those layers in the layers panel by clicking on the padlock above the layers’ thumbnails. 
  • If your auto-select feature is turned off, you can temporarily activate it with the Move tool by pressing CTRL (on Windows) and Command (on Mac) and using the Move tool for selection. 
  • Note that the checkbox for Auto Select turns on while you are holding down the CTRL or CMD key.


Another way to use the move tool is for a Marquee selection. This trick is unknown to many Photoshop users. However, it is a speedy and easy way to select all your layers simultaneously.

  • Make sure that the Auto-Select option is turned off before using this method. 
  • Choose the Move tool from the toolbar and press CTRL + Click on any section in the background layer (Command + Click on Mac). Draw a marquee to select all the layers within it. 

While dealing with layers clustered in an area of the image, the Marquee selection provides a lot of ease and accessibility.

Method 3: Select All Layers Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are always a quick fix, saving precious time and making tasks uncomplicated. For the selection of all layers in Photoshop, there are keyboard shortcuts that assist in your workflow.

  • On Windows, press CTRL + ALT + A to select all layers.
  • On Mac, press CMD + OPT + A to select all layers.

You can select all layers except for the background layer in Photoshop using this keyboard shortcut. Unlock the background layer if you need to add it to the selection as well.

Method 4: Selecting All Layers Using the Layers Filter Tool

The filter option in Layers is a convenient way to look up all the layers you want to select.

Layer Names 

If you are learning to use layers, remember to name them correctly for better organization and easy search. After searching with names, you can use the selection methods or keyboard shortcuts to select these layers.

  • You can turn on the filter by name search bar in the layers panel by pressing ALT + CTRL + SHIFT + F on Windows or OPT + CMD + SHIFT + Mac
  • Type in the name of the layers that you are looking for selection. A convenient option for highly complex layers images with several layers.

Layer Types

Among Photoshop CC’s user-friendly features is the filter bar for layers. 

  • At the top left section of the Layers panel, you will see a drop-down menu to choose the layers based on Kind, Name, Effect, Attribute, Color, Smart Object, Selected, or Artboard.
Selecting all layers using the Filter tool
  • You can turn the filter on or off by clicking the Lightswitch toggle bar. This filter-by-type flexibility helps narrow your search in case of an image with many layers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should You Use Layers When Editing in Photoshop?

Layers are a central feature in Photoshop, which can help you transform the images using design elements in imaginative ways. Learning to use layers to their full potential is a skill every photographer must know.

How to Deselect All Layers?

You can easily deselect all the layers by selecting the Select menu and choosing Deselect Layers. Or, you can click in an empty section (below the background layer) in the layers panel where the layers are listed.


Photoshop has given several options for layer selection to speed up your workflow. You may use only one or two of them most of the time. However, it is better to know them all so that you have a better grasp of using layers in Photoshop.


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