I photograph crafts I've made and turn them into collages to share online. Usually I accomplish this by unlocking the background layer on one photo and copying all the other photos into the same document, then mushing them around till I have a nice display.

Using this method I've essentially gotten rid of my background layer, which leaves me with a transparent background. I can throw a new solid fill layer back there, but resizing the canvas doesn't fill in the edges of this new layer like a background layer would, requiring me to re-fill it.

Is there a way to mark / make a new layer as a background layer so that it retains the properties of a default Photoshop background layer?

I am on a Windows computer if this is something that involves keyboard shortcuts.

Note: I know the described workflow is horrible but this was the easiest way I could think of to illustrate this scenario. I'm not looking for better workflows. I specifically want to know if I can create a default background layer.

2 Answers 2


Highlight the layer you want as a background and choose...
Layer > New > Background from Layer.

enter image description here

Or choosing Flatten Image from either the Layers Panel or Layers Menu will collapse/merge all layers down to a "background" layer.

  • this creates a new layer from an existing layer as a background layer, but it doesn't create a new White layer if that is what his original background layer was. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 17:27
  • No one says the background layer has to be white. Reality is Photoshop, by default, sets the background (or starting layer) to whatever the last used settings were in the "New" dialog window. White may be the default out of the box, but it's not the default other than that. More important.... this answers the question.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 17:33

I think what be easier is to start/create a template file.

This file would have the dimensions you want. You would create it with a white background on the background layer. You could leave it locked.

Then use the "place" feature to place your images (or drag and drop). The pictures would each be on their own layer.

  • so there's no way to create a layer in an existing document that behaves like a default background layer? "No" is an acceptable answer here; I'm not really looking for workarounds since I already have a couple.
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 17:08
  • Is your background layer just a white layer? When you create the document, are you creating a new document, or are you opening an image as your document? Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 17:26

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