I am new to Photoshop and therefore in need to get familiar with it fast. I wonder, if there is a way to divide Photoshop like a website, to make every picture (such as a website logo) editable seperately, so when I edit it, it automatically updates in the master Photoshop document.

This would be very useful to me, if Photoshop had something like this, for organization and ease of use.

I am making a website and I just have too many layers to manage.

Thank you in advance


Sounds to me like Smart object is exactly what you're looking for.

For example: Your main document may have a button object that is formed with multiple layers. You can select all of those layers and combine them into one smart object.

When you go edit the smart object, another document opens up where you have only those layers showing. Then you can just save the changes and go back to your main document.

There's quite a lot to know about smart objects, so you might wanna to read some more about them.

On that note.

Here's a couple quotes from that page (just in case).

About Smart Objects

Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart Objects preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer.

You can create Smart objects using several methods: by using the Open As Smart Object command; placing a file, pasting data from Illustrator; or converting one or more Photoshop layers to Smart Objects.

With Smart Objects, you can:

  • Perform nondestructive transforms. You can scale, rotate, skew, distort, perspective transform, or warp a layer without losing original image data or quality because the transforms don’t affect the original data.

  • Work with vector data, such as vector artwork from Illustrator, that otherwise would be rasterized in Photoshop.

  • Perform nondestructive filtering. You can edit filters applied to Smart Objects at any time.

  • Edit one Smart Object and automatically update all its linked instances.

  • Apply a layer mask that’s either linked or unlinked to the Smart Object layer.

  • Try various designs with low-resolution placeholder images that you later replace with final versions.

You can’t perform operations that alter pixel data—such as painting, dodging, burning, or cloning—directly to a Smart Object layer, unless it is first converted into a regular layer, which will be rasterized. To perform operations that alter pixel data, you can edit the contents of a Smart Object, clone a new layer above the Smart Object layer, edit duplicates of the Smart Object, or create a new layer.

To create smart object from layers: - Select bunch of layers. - Right click one of them and choose Convert to smart object.

Edit the content of a Smart Object

When you edit a Smart Object, the source content is opened in either Photoshop (if the content is raster data or a camera raw file) or Illustrator (if the content is vector PDF). When you save changes to the source content, the edits appear in all linked instances of the Smart Object in the Photoshop document.

  1. Select the Smart Object from the Layers panel, and do one of the following:

    • Choose Layer > Smart Objects > Edit Contents.

    • Double-click the Smart Objects thumbnail in the Layers panel.

  2. Click OK to close the dialog box.

  3. Make edits to the source content file, then choose File > Save. Photoshop updates the Smart Object to reflect the changes you made. (If you don’t see the changes, make the Photoshop document containing the Smart Object active).

Duplicate a Smart Object

In the Layers panel, select a Smart Object layer, and do one of the following:

  • To create a duplicate Smart Object that is linked to the original, choose Layer > New > Layer Via Copy, or drag the Smart Object layer to the Create A New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Edits you make to the original affect the copy and vice versa.

  • To create a duplicate Smart Object that isn’t linked to the original, choose Layer > Smart Objects > New Smart Object Via Copy. Edits you make to the original don’t affect the copy.

A new Smart Object appears in the Layers panel with the same name as the original and “copy” as a suffix.

One thing that I forgot to mention.

There is no straight up way to unfold a smart object back to bunch of layers in your main document. If you need to do that at some point, you will have to duplicate the layers from your smart object document into the main document.


Separate assets assembled in one layout is Photoshop's biggest weakness. Probably because it's not a layout app, even though the web design community has long tried to contort it into one.

The best way to have many assets arranged in a layout (or multiple layout files) and editable separately is with a layout app like Illustrator. Illustrator will allow you to maintain remote assets that are truly linked and not embedded in the file. When the files are updated, AI prompts you to refresh the link.

InD is a great layout app but it's not particularly web export friendly (unless CS6 has changed dramatically).

Photoshop's smart objects are great except that they are contained in the layout itself. If you want to place a logo, icon, or any element that is still in a state of flux, you'll have to reimport it every time there's an update.

With my Illustrator web layouts I have whole regions of the page set up like include files: header, footer, product modules, etc. It's particularly efficient in a team setting using something like SVN.

  • Yeah. I think the best answer is that Photoshop shouldn't be used in this way, because that's not its strength. – Marc Edwards Oct 5 '12 at 1:01
  • "you'll have to reimport it every time there's an update" That is only true if you want to use truly external files for smart objects. When you place a file as a smart object into your document it is basically split-apart. You can in fact make changes to the smart object sitting in your document and save it, and the changes will be automatically updated in your main doc, but the external file wont be updated. If you feel the need to use external file that is not tied to your main document, yes, you will have to make changes to that file and then import them separately to your main doc. – Joonas Oct 5 '12 at 6:27

Slices might help. They take a single Photoshop document and slice it into many parts, as web-friendly separate image files.


If you're looking for the opposite, where you can edit many files and have them combined into one, then you can probably use Smart Objects. That sounds a bit cumbersome though. I think Slices are probably what you're after.

  • Oh, didn't notice that you already mentioned smart objects. Oh, well... – Joonas Oct 4 '12 at 8:25
  • That's ok! You went into far more detail. :) – Marc Edwards Oct 5 '12 at 9:11

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