Question is very similar to Edit smart object in Illustrator while viewing other Photoshop layers, but for Photoshop only.

Is it possible to edit a smart object "live", without having to open it in a separate tab?

I would like to view what is above and below the smart object, as well as see how different blend modes apply to it -while- I make the modifications.

Additionally, I would like 2 or more layers to share the same "smart object", such that modifying 1 of those layers would share its modifications with the other accordingly.

(I am still using Photoshop CS6)

1 Answer 1


No, it's not possible.

That's the downside of Smart Objects in Photoshop. It allows applying destructive filters without destructing the original, but the pixels of the original can only be edited inside the Smart Object.

The closest you can get is to set up a window with the Smart Object Next to the mother document, edit inside the Smart Object and frequently push Ctrl / Cmd + S to save and update the mother document.

In Affinity Photo there are no Smart Objects, but instead Live Filters. Filters like Blur is just like an Adjustment Layer in Photoshop.

The downside is that it's pretty hardware intensive. In larger and complex documents, I've experienced a latency unlike what I have in Photoshop. So I guess Adobe made Smart Objects like they are because it's unrealistic at the moment for average users to have live filters.

(Edit due to edit in question)

You've added another related question to your original question.

It's possible to make linked duplicates of Smart Objects which share the same content, but can have different effects applied.

Simply Alt + drag a Smart Object and you have a duplicate.

(If you want to make a copy that isn't linked to the original Smart Object, you can right-click it and choose New Smart Object via Copy.)

Having duplicates of Smart Objects doesn't change the fact that the pixels of a Smart Object can only be altered from the inside. Not while viewing the Smart Object in its parent document.

  • I feel like your gif with Affinity Photo isn't relevant to the question: it is not the duplication of a layer, but rather editing live with a layer effect, which is already available in photoshop (somewhat, under "layer effects"). Are you implying that "copy another layer" is an effect?
    – Milichip
    Mar 11, 2023 at 19:19
  • Sorry, I forgot to specify in the question that I have 2 layers which are using the same smart object. I will edit accordingly.
    – Milichip
    Mar 11, 2023 at 19:27
  • Adding complexity sadly doesn't change the basics. It's still not possible. But you can have duplicates of Smart Objects. See my latest edit. I just mentioned Affinity Photo to show you the difference between the two different approaches used by the two applications.
    – Wolff
    Mar 11, 2023 at 20:30
  • 1
    I already knew you could make smart objects, but the goal of the question was ultimately to edit 2 layers with 1 "object". But yeah, sadness and all that. Ty for your tips :)!
    – Milichip
    Mar 11, 2023 at 21:56
  • 1
    @Wolff yes! But I also wanted both copies to update live, with all other layers visible :o -though what you provided helps!
    – Milichip
    Mar 11, 2023 at 22:18

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