I'm trying to export some images of a photoshop design and this is how I usually do it:

  1. select the layer you want.
  2. command + left click the thumbnail to create a marquee around the layer
  3. copy it (command + c)
  4. Create a new file (command + n). this will create a file with the exact dimensions as the layer
  5. paste in the copied layer. (command + v)
  6. save for web

For certain layers I get stuck on number 4 where photoshop doesn't know that I copied something onto the clipboard so the right dimensions aren't displayed. plus pasting doesn't work because for some reason it was never copied. I don't know if certain layers cannot be copied simply by pressing command + c?

3 Answers 3


Try right clicking your layer in the layer palette and selecting Duplicate Layer. In the resulting pop up, set the Document option to New. This will take care of steps 2-6 in your workflow.

You could also add that (and the save for web) to an action or script for 1-click functionality.

  • This is what I do, except I add Image > Trim > Transparent areas after duplicating, then save for web.
    – Scott
    Dec 26, 2013 at 17:03
  • Thank you John and Scott. This helps a lot thank you both! I'm wondering why certain layers cannot be copied to the clipboard by doing command + c....
    – Kabu
    Dec 26, 2013 at 19:16

Try to do this:
Edit --> Copy Merged.

You'll copy all layers do you want (selected) and you can export it.

  • This doesn't really help me as there are other layers inside it that would be merged along with the one I specifically want. For example, if I just want to copy a background gradient color of a banner but not the images and text inside the banner. doing copy merged would copy the background along with everything in it. Thanks for your suggestion.
    – Kabu
    Dec 26, 2013 at 6:46

Press F12!

Steps [Follow one time only, you will be able to export any layer with a single click!] :

  • Select the layer or group containing your asset.
  • Open your actions palette (window > actions).
  • Hit the "Create New Action Button", and name it. (example, "Asset to File").
  • Press record .
  • Right click on the layer or group title and click "Duplicate. Layer/Group".
  • In the dialog that pops up, change the destination document to "New" and hit OK.
  • Now you have a new Photoshop document with just that isolated asset!
  • In the menu bar, select Image > Trim... > Transparent Pixels.
  • Now your document is exactly the size of your asset, to the exact pixel.
  • Save for Web (works cleanly since you're saving the whole document - no accidental extras or generated file names).
  • Close your document.
  • Hit the stop button .
  • Select your action in the actions palette.
  • Open the actions palette context menu and select "Action Options".
  • Choose a function key (I selected Shift + F12) (and an optional modifier key if needed).

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