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In Illustrator, how do I move all vectors in 1 layer to top-most layer-tier and discard the sublayer containers and retain the original layer name?

Basically, bring all sublayers and contents to the top in 1 layer.

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As far as I'm aware there's no one solution which works for everything all the time.

Copy/Paste to a new layer is a good solution.

There are also some little used Layer Panel menu items that may help.

Note that no artwork is selected in this animation. It's all merely moving layers and layer structure.

Three layers, with nested sublayers on a couple of the layers.

  • Highlight top layers and choose Flatten Artwork from the Layer Panel Menu -- This moves all layers, sublayers, and objects to one single layer. This is not like Photoshop's "Flatten" command. This ONLY refers to the layer structure in the panel and has nothing to do with actual artwork.
  • Highlight sublayers and choose Merge Selected from the Layer Panel Menu -- this moves all sublayers to one sublayer.
  • Highlight and Manually move objects out of that last sublayer.

enter image description here

How useful this is depends a great deal upon the current structure of any layers.

Depending upon how deep nested sublayers go, or how prolific they may be, it may take using the commands a few times on different sets of highlighted layers/sublayers.

Although I have all the layers/sublayers expanded for the animation, these commands work on collapsed layers. So, you don't have to expand layers, just highlight them and and choose the menu items.

  • Thank you so much. That's exactly what I needed. – Werner Botha Feb 12 at 14:10
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Unlock all layers you want to move from.

Select All (Ctrl+A)

Cut (Ctrl+X)

Click on topmost layer, and paste-in-place* (Ctrl+F)

Now select extra layers and drag them to the trashcan.

layers panel


* Make sure you have Paste Remembers Layers turned off. Otherwise it'll recreate the sublayers etc. (Click on the dropdown in the layers panel to turn it off.)

  • That is a workaround yes. In cases with 100-500 vectors, It gets very time consuming to go through so many sublayers with just collapsing down. I meant is there a way to easily remove that hierarchy. – Werner Botha Feb 11 at 12:48
  • If they are all sublayers, just delete the second-main layer and all sublayers will be deleted too (see image)... – WELZ Feb 11 at 13:03
  • Also, I'd prefer using "ctrl+F" to paste in place. But I guess you know that. – Mikael Carlsson Feb 11 at 16:03

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