I find myself clicking on the auto select layer check box an egregious amount during the day. I was wondering if someone knew how to make it a hot key as that would save me quite a bit of time.

  • It should stay set once you set it. I've never had to hit that option more than once in a work session.
    – Scott
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 17:41
  • @Scott it does stay once I set it but I toggle it a lot throughout the day. So I was wondering if I could set up a hot key for it. Commented May 20, 2013 at 17:52

4 Answers 4


When you are using Move tool you can press Cmd to temporarily enable auto selection functionality.

Adding Shift to the mix will enable to you deselect or select multiple layers.

If you have any other tool selected, you can Cmd + Alt + Mouse right click a layer and it will be selected. This is nearly identical to auto select with the move tool, you just can't move the layer during that click.

Adding Shift to the mix will enable to you deselect or select multiple layers.

Also, while auto-select ignores locked layers, this method doesn't. I have not found a way around that, other than switching to move tool and using auto-select instead. Incidentally, if you have move tool selected, you can force it to select locked layers by pressing down Cmd + Alt. Both left click and right click work with that.

This works with most tools, but not every single tool. Some tools show different icons, when you press down Cmd + Alt, but that doesn't mean it won't work.

Some other move tool tips / hotkeys for when you are using any other tool:

  • Cmd of course temporarily gives you the move tool.

  • Cmd + Mouse right click will bring up a context menu where you can select a layer.

    • The selected layer in the list tends to be the layer you clicked.
  • Cmd + Alt + Mouse left click and drag will copy / move the selected layer

  • Cmd + Alt + Arrow key will copy / move the selected layer 1px to the direction of your choosing

  • Cmd + Alt + Shift Arrow key will copy / move the selected layer 10px to the direction of your choosing.

If you are on Windows just replace Cmd with Ctrl

  • Helpful, but does not really answer the question. The auto-select option for the Move Tool can not be accessed via the keyboard modifiers. It is either on or off and no keyboard modifier alters that setting. While everything you've posted is 100% accurate. It simply misses the question.
    – Scott
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:37
  • @Scott I'm not sure I see how this misses the question considering how the functionality has only few differences: 1. You need to be pressing cmd while clicking to enable auto select functionality 2. If you are using any other tool, you need to press few more buttons, right click and you can't drag the layer. If there is no need to set a custom shortcut, then why would you do so?
    – Joonas
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:33
  • Joonas, if Auto-Select is NOT ticked.. nothing you do with the modifiers keys makes the Move Tool act as if auto-select were ticked. That's what I mean. To see the Auto-select behavior you need multiple layers which you can see at one time. Auto-select lets you Command/Ctrl-click the visible pixels on a layer and that layer gets highlighted in the Layers panel. Without Auto-select, layer highlighting never changes.
    – Scott
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:38
  • @Scott But that's what those modifier keys do ( or at least I think they do ). What do you think they do then? -- It could be that I'm missing something since I haven't used auto select for ages, because I use the modifier key combination in my answer's second paragraph.
    – Joonas
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:54
  • @Joonas maybe it's just how I read things. :) Yes if the Move tool is active the modifiers will work. But if the Move Tool is not active, the Command/Ctrl key can access move on the fly, but auto-select modifiers do nothing if auto-select is not ticked in the control bar. I guess the difference I missed is you point out that the Move Tool is selected. Sorry. Do ANYTHING to edit the anser and I'll remove the down vote.
    – Scott
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:56

You can use Tool Presets and Actions.

Window > Tool Presets, and click the New Preset icon at the bottom of the Tool Preset Panel. Note the current Auto-Select setting and name it appropriately. Then toggle the Auto-select and create a second preset by again clicking the New Preset icon at the bottom of the panel.

Then, create a new action by clicking the New icon at the bottom of the Actions Panel (Window > Actions). Name it and assign and F-Key shortcut to it and click Record. Simply click the first Tool Preset you just created. Then click Stop on the Action Panel. Repeat this, assigning a different F-Key shortcut, and clicking the second Tool Preset you created.

You should end up with 2 actions, each with an assigned F-key shortcut which will then essentially let you toggle the Auto-Select setting (more specifically select a Tool Preset via the action).

You can't assign keyboard shortcuts to Tool presets, so this is really the only method I'm aware of.

  • Hey @scott I can get it to toggle on and off with pressing the play button for either toggling it on or off, but the F-Key shortcuts don't seem to be working. Any other ideas for that? Thanks for the help! Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:52
  • If you are using the Mac IS it is sometimes necessary ti hold the Function (Fn) key to use the F-keys. This can be adjusted in the System Preferences > Keyboard by ticking the Use F keys as standard keys.
    – Scott
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 23:56
  • Glad that solved it. If only I could fix the dang typos in that comment :)
    – Scott
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:33
  • Great solution!
    – DazBaldwin
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 9:23

Whilst Command + Click is useful it is not an all encompassing option as it doesn't allow you to specify which you'd like to auto select, layers or groups.

You can add a keyboard shortcut by making a tool preset (for the move tool) for each setting (group, layer and off) and then recording an action for each of these. I have it set up as F1, F2 and F3, very useful.

Hope this helps, happy to flesh it out more if needed.

I haven't had a chance to test if this works with a tablet but there's no reason why not I suspect.


ctrl+windows+click make sure the auto-select is deselect so that you know that the command is working :D :P ^^ ctrl+windows+click make sure the auto-select is deselect so that you know that the command is working :D :P ^^

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