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I have a gif of characters dancing on a white background, and I want to use the magic eraser (or an equivalent selection tool) to select and clear the white background to make it transparent.

However, the gif is ~150 frames long so doing each layer individually would be tedious, and I'd like to know how to sample all layers any way. Is there a way to do this?

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There is no tool in Photoshop that will let you erase different layers at once.

What you can do instead is grouping all your layers and applying a mask to the group. I would actually recommend that whenever it's possible (and by that I mean almost always!), you use masks instead of the eraser.

It works with animated gifs too:

enter image description here

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Will it still work for animation if they're in a group? – Joshpho May 7 '13 at 4:20
@Joshpho Yes, it will. I just checked it :) Mine has 'Propagate Frame 1' ticked, but it's also disabled so I don't know if it's necessary. – Yisela May 7 '13 at 4:39

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