I don't really know the right terminology for it.

Suppose I have more than one layers with 50x50 content, at different positions in a bigger image. Those layers have identical material in them and will always have identical material in them forever.

I just want to work on only one of those layers and want to see the changes reflected in the other identical layers. Is this possible at all? If not is there any workflow tips that would make my life easier?


This is exactly what Smart Objects are for!

Create your "master layer" (which can consist of several layers, provided they are all selected when you do the next step).

Make it a Smart Object using Filter > Convert for Smart Filters, the layers panel flyout menu ("Convert to Smart Object") or Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. (There are always multiple ways to do things in Photoshop!)

[Alternatively, you can Place (File > Place) a PSD in a new Photoshop document. The external PSD will come in as a Smart Object with Free Transform active, so you can accept it as it is or resize according to what you need.

Copy this Smart Object layer using Ctl/Cmd-J or Layer > New > New Layer via Copy. It's important to copy the layer rather than making a new Smart Object.

Place the copies where you need them to be.

To change all of them at once, double click on any layer in the set, make your changes in the separate .PSB file that opens up, then save those changes and close the .PSB.


Search for the term 'smart objects' in Photoshop's Help or online. Smart Objects are a way to embed other images into a PSD file and have that PSD file update them whenever the external file is updated. So, in your situation, you'd make a new PSD file that consists of what you have on your layer. You'd then bring that PSD file in as a smart object on the two layers you want to use it on. Whenever you update that external PSD file, both of your layers in your parent PSD file will also update.

  • 1
    Actually that won't work. Unlike InDesign or Illustrator, Photoshop doesn't maintain a link from a Smart Object to an external file. The SO is an embedded document, a copy of whatever it was created from. A Smart Object opens as a new, temporary file in Photoshop (original filename with .JPG, .TIF, .PSB, etc. extension) or Illustrator ("Vector Smart Object.ia"). – Alan Gilbertson Jun 26 '11 at 4:16

http://www.solinker.com/ but only for PC users

With S.O.Linker, Photoshop Smart Objects are linked to external Photoshop (.PSD) files. This provides enormous time savings to web designers when changing or editing a Smart Object contained in multiple page layouts.

  • We're definitely not a request board for software ports, but I'm leaving your answer in hopes that it may help someone in the future. Link-only answers aren't very highly regarded by our community, I added the description from the site to try and flesh your answer out. – JohnB Feb 10 '14 at 22:51

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