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It feels like this should be a Photoshop feature (every point in a layer is either present or "absent", right?), but I can't seem to locate it.

Suppose I have the usual many-many layers, and they're reasonably well-organized, but I need to be sure which layer a given object occupies, without knowing the layer beforehand. How do I do this?

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actually theres no such thing as pixel not present. This becomes an issue in motion graphics and 3D graphics most commonly. It rarely is a issue as far as you stay inside phothoshop and never attempt to leave. but just so you know even fully transparent pixels do have color. – joojaa Feb 13 '14 at 14:02
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ctrl(cmd on MAC) + left click on the object will select correct layer, to select multiple objects Ctrl(cmd on MAC) + left click and drag everything that is inside the running ants will be selected.

Provided you're having the move tool (V) active and its 'Auto-Select' setting reads 'Layer' and not 'Folder' - @Bakabaka

'Layer' setting will select layer.

'Folder' will select the folder that the object is inside

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That is, provided you're having the move tool (V) active and its 'Auto-Select' setting reads 'Layer' and not 'Folder'. – Vincent Feb 12 '14 at 15:26
yes that's right thank you, @Bakabaka I will edit the answer! – Igor-G Feb 12 '14 at 15:53
Once or twice, I've definitely done something involving selection that caused a context menu which displayed all the layers, and that had lead me to think PS couldn't recognize which layers had emptiness as a given point. But I assume that has nothing to do with this answer, which I will confirm as resolved once I test it out tomorrow. (Snow keeps me from computers with PS). Thank you! – Lenoxus Feb 13 '14 at 13:39

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