I am trying to paste a layer into a mask, and for some reason I cannot do this in my file. The steps I follow are:

  1. Ctrl+A and copy my source layer; it's Layer 1 in my screenshot
  2. Alt+click the mask of the destination layer (=Hue/Saturation), but this doesn't do anything.
  3. Paste into the layer mask; this also doesn't do anything.

I tested in a new file and I could confirm that these steps work. But for some reason it doesn't work in the file I have been working on.

I don't know if it's related, but the selected layer is purple in the layers panel, not light grey. I don't know why this is happening. I don't know what it means.

Photoshop selected layer is purple

Any advice would be appreciated.

  • In the screen shot, Layer 1 is the source layer, the target is the Hue/Saturation layer. The main point of the screenshot was to show the purple color I was referring to in my question.
    – user668074
    Dec 16, 2021 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


Highlight the mask in the Chanels Panel, then paste.

The important aspect is that the visibility of the mask be on in the Channels Panel. If one Option/Alt+clicks a layer mask, that is a shortcut to turn on the visibility of the mask channel.

  • Ok, that seems to work, thank you! But I still don't understand why the normal method isn't working
    – user668074
    Dec 14, 2021 at 3:47
  • I don't understand "normal method"... to paste onto a layer mask, as far as I know, one has always had to highlight the mask in the Channels Panel.
    – Scott
    Dec 14, 2021 at 5:38
  • Basically the method outline here: studioratonline.com/blog/paste-into-layer-mask-photoshop
    – user668074
    Dec 14, 2021 at 6:36
  • --"Hold Alt on your keyboard and click the Layer Mask thumbnail. This will open the Layer Mask." -- the alt key + click makes the mask active in the Channel Panel. He's merely using a shortcut.
    – Scott
    Dec 14, 2021 at 6:42

The problem is that in your problematic file, somewhere along the line you entered quick mask. This interferes with some of the normal properties of masks created. For example, you can still shift click on the mask and that works, but alt-click doesn't. Also, you may have noticed that you have some recalcitrance when you try to move from the tool to the mask or vice versa.

All of this is cleared up by eliminating the quick mask that sits in your Channels Palette. Normally when you set up an adjustment layer with its mask, it shows up as such, named in the channels palette, but does NOT open a quick mask entry. However, all your masks will be adversely affected as you go forward as long as that Quick mask is present. AS you probably know, quick mask is useful to identify, in color, what your selection is, as a cross reference, or as a working aid, as you can work in that channel.

You can delete quick mask directly either in the channels palette, or in the Quick mask tool in the Tool BOX(the thin linear stripe that has all the different tools on it.) It's the second icon from the bottom in the tool bar. BTW, you'll notice that it's lit when quick mask is on, and if you click on it, or, remove the quick mask from the channel palette, it becomes greyed out.

You other files work fine because quick mask is not enabled! The pink color (quick mask's color) is the giveaway.

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