In the tutorial I'm watching the instructor has just created a new rectangle. With that layer selected, he goes up to the "Path Alignment" dropdown in the tool bar - having already selected "Align to Canvas" from it - then selects "Vertical Centers." Here:

enter image description here

When I try to do the same, all of the options above "Align to Selection/Canvas" are greyed out, so I'm unable. I definitely have the layer selected as well as "Align to Canvas," but they are still greyed out. Can anyone guess why?

Thank you.

4 Answers 4


You need to make a selection or choose another layer which will be a Reference for alignment. Then that buttons will be highlighted.

  • This is exactly what I thought, but the screnshot is from the tutorial, and as you can see he only has the one layer selected. Also, I thought that if you have "Align to Canvas" (not "Align to Selection") selected, then it would be enough to have only one other object selected... But apparently not :/ Aug 24, 2013 at 21:18
  • He has selected align by canvas so by default the canvas is the reference for alignment. He doesn't need to make selection Aug 29, 2013 at 17:12
  • But surely he must have an object selected to align to the canvas? In any case, whether I have an object selected or not, the options are all greyed out. Aug 29, 2013 at 20:29
  • Try select a layer and hit ctrl + a and take a look at buttons. It should work i think Aug 29, 2013 at 21:32
  • No, that just selects the whole layer, but buttons are still greyed out. I feel like it must be some kind of bug at this point :/ Thank you for trying to help, though. Aug 30, 2013 at 8:32

From what I could guess based on the screenshot, the reason you aren't experiencing the same thing could be that you haven't selected the same tool. There is a frustrating kink I've learned that goes with alignment.

In one case, if you have the Move tool selected and you don't have a 'marching ants' selection on the screen, the align tools will all be grayed out.

move tool grayed out

This requires a marching ants selection space to align to.

On the other hand, if you are using the path or direct selection tool you then have direct access to the alignment tools, BUT (and here is the quirk you might be experiencing), it only works with shape layers like the rectangle shape layer shown below. It will be grayed out with normal layers.

direct selection tool

align tools

Note: After experimentation, the same isn't true in Photoshop CS6 or lower. The options are greyed out always with the path or direct selection tool. It isn't until Creative Cloud where they allow manipulation of align with these tools in the upper tool bar.

  • Unfortunately, the instructor has the shape tool selected when he does it. I also just tried with the path and direct selection tools, and in both cases the options were still greyed out :/ I'm beginning to think it must be some sort of bug, but I've decided to move on for the time being. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Aug 27, 2013 at 12:13
  • Are you manipulating a shape layer? Aug 27, 2013 at 18:03
  • Yes, it is a shape layer... Does that affect things? Aug 28, 2013 at 23:01
  • You are working in CS6 or below correct? In PS creative cloud the grayed out options actually change in mine. I'll update answer Aug 29, 2013 at 5:42
  • Yes, I'm in CS6. I think I might give up at this point... Really frustrating, but nothing I try seems to "un"-grey out those options. Aug 30, 2013 at 8:33

Not sure if you ever figured this one out yet or not. I just discovered a work around for this. With the layer selected (in the layer panel, nothing else), use the rectangular marquee tool to draw a square around the entire canvas. Once you see the marching ants, switch to the direct selection tool and the alignment tools should be active. You can then align your object. So far this is just for centering an object or aligning it with the entire canvas, and it works for the entire layer. This is for CS6. Hopefully this helps!


You need to select the path or shape that you want to align or arrange using the Path Selection Tool in CS6 version to enable those options.

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