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How to lock or unlock a layer in Photoshop

The keyboard approach might become a reflex.
By
January 23, 2023

In most situations, locking a Photoshop layer is unnecessary. But the option can safeguard your work, preventing you from accidentally undoing minutes, hours, or even days of effort. Here’s how to lock and unlock layers, including multiple methods where applicable.

QUICK ANSWER

Photoshop layers are usually locked or unlocked by selecting them in the Layers panel then hitting Control-/ (on Windows) or Command-/ (on Mac). More nuanced options are available via panel buttons.

How to lock or unlock a layer in Photoshop

Locking

Layer locking in Photoshop
Roger Fingas / Android Authority

To lock using your mouse:

  • Select a layer or group in the Layers panel.
  • Click the Lock All icon (a padlock) to lock everything, or one of the icons next to it to only control image pixels, transparent pixels, and/or position. Hover over each icon to identify it.

Or:

  • Select a layer or a group in the Layers panel.
  • Within the Layers panel, open the “hamburger” menu in the upper-right corner.
  • Click Lock Layers.
  • Choose which elements you want to lock, then OK.

If you want to lock everything in a layer as fast as possible, just select it then hit Control-/ (in Photoshop for Windows) or Command-/ (in Photoshop for Mac).

Unlocking

The Control-/ (Windows) or Command-/ (Mac) keyboard shortcut is the simplest option in most cases. But if you want more granular control using your mouse, select a layer or group in the Layers panel, then click on one of the depressed locking buttons to toggle it off.


Read more: How to flip images and layers in Photoshop