Situation: I want to use the current selection as a mask on layer X. Layer X already has a mask, and I want to completely replace it.

If layer X didn't already have a mask, I could do this in one step by clicking Add layer mask in the Layers palette.

Given that layer X already has a mask, what is the quickest way to do this? Can this be done in one or two steps, preferably by keystroke?

How I do it now: Drag layer X's mask to trash, click layer X, click Add layer mask. This becomes tedious when you have to do it to a lot of layers.

2 Answers 2


Highlight Layer X and Group it (Command/Ctrl-g), apply the mask to the Group folder by clicking the mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel.


You can then leave things as they are.. or move the mask to the layer replacing the existing mask.

If you simply want to replace the existing mask, highlight the mask thumbnail then hit these keys in this order.....

Command/Ctrl+Shift+i (that's an i not an L)

What that combination does...
- reset foreground and background color
- fill selection with foreground color
- inverse selection
- fill selection with background color

You can record an action while doing this once, then assign and F key to the action so it only takes one key press in the future.


Make an action of your current workflow.

To be more specific, make an action like this:

  1. Delete mask from your current layer ( Make sure to have your layer selected when you do this. If you have your mask selected you'd always have to select the mask when running the action )

  2. Make a new Layer mask ( Make sure you have selection before you click it )

Then just give the action a shortcut.

The workflow with this action:

  1. Make your selection
  2. Select a layer with a mask
  3. Use the shortcut ...and the mask is replaced with your selection

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.