Clever shortcuts for controlling layers
There are a couple of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to add new layers to an image. the first is Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N, which brings up the New Layer dialog box for creating and naming layers. Add Opt/Alt into that shortcut and Photoshop skips this dialog box and places a new layer directly into the palette.
Create instant duplicates of a layer by holding Opt/Alt and dragging the image or object across the canvas with the Move tool (V). This tells Photoshop to copy whatever is being moved and to place it on a new layer of its own.
Working with many layers in a composition can make it difficult when looking for the one you want in the palette. To make this easier, choose the Move tool and then head to the Option bar. Tick the Auto-Select box and make sure it’s set to LAyer. Now they can be moved by simply clicking over them.
Multiple layers of one particular type of content are best kept in groups. To do this quickly click on the first layer the palette, hold Shift and then click on the last layer. Now go to the Layer menu and down to Group Layers, or press Cmd/Ctrl+G.
To form a selection around the contents of a layer, hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the layer’s thumbnail in the palette. Selections are indicated with marching ants, and show you the exact outline of any layer, be it under others or directly on top.
Each layer has an eye symbol to the left of its thumbnail in the palette. Individual layers can be hidden by clicking this icon, but multiple layers can be hidden by clicking and running the cursor over the eyes without letting go.
Move layers from the front to the back of a composition using Cmd/Ctrl and the square bracket keys. This is much more efficient than going into the palette, finding the right layer and physically dragging.
New to Photoshop CS6, Adobe introduced filtering options for finding certain ones quickly. Choose between Mode, Kind, Name, Effect, Attribute and Colour for hunting down the layer you’re after.
Lock your layers into place using the four options in the palette: Lock Transparent Pixels, Lock Image Pixels, Lock Position and Lock all. This prevents them from being accidentally moved when arranging objects in a composition.
Two or more layers can be merged into one by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+E or via Layer>Merge Layers with them selected. This is a useful way to keep your palette tidier, and also if you plan to apply adjustments to multiple objects.