I am using Photoshop CS5 to work with an image that will be composed of about forty separate pieces that I want to be able to move and rotate independently, something like a jigsaw puzzle.

I don't believe I can have more than one selection per layer, so I am expecting to have one layer per piece.

Is there a way that the move tool can operate on whichever selection is under the mouse pointer instead of having to switch between layers or control-clicking the selection? I really want it to behave as if all the selections are on a single layer, but with their own z-order

  • I'm not entirely sure I understand the end-goal. You say rotate/move independently but then want to move whatever is under the mouse. Which is it? Would making a Folder on your layers and putting them all in there do what you're after?
    – Ryan
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:53
  • 1
    I believe the poster is asking if the courser can work like Illustrator. I cant answer, i don't know.
    – Daniel
    Jun 18, 2014 at 18:52
  • @Ryan: Do you mean a layer group? I tried that, but it loses the ability to move each selection independently. As I said, I want it as though I just had a number of selections that I could work on independently but all on the same layer. At present it's like working on a forty-piece jigsaw with a sheet of glass between each piece
    – Borodin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 18:54
  • @Daniel: You may be right but I don't know as I have no experience with Illustrator
    – Borodin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


I think Daniel is correct in your functionality once he mentioned that. The closest I believe you'll get is using Folders to contain all of your "pieces." If you're not aware you can then Right Click and any object directly under the mouse appears in a drop down. You could quickly select the Group / Folder Name or quickly select one of the singular items within it. Notice Rectangle 1 (the red one) isn't on the drop down, because my cursor is not on top of it. Sorry not using Screencap software but I right-clicked directly left of where the Group 1 appeared:

enter image description here

I can't think of any more efficient way within Photoshop to do what you're looking for.

  • Okay that's great, thank you. I was coming round to thinking that what I want isn't possible. I've never heard them called folders before so I wasn't sure what you meant. It does help to know that you can right-click anywhere and see a list of everything under the cursor - the fastest way I knew to switch layers is to control-click somewhere.
    – Borodin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 19:10
  • @Borodin Glad that will work for you. The icon is a Folder so I'm just in the probably bad habit of calling them that.
    – Ryan
    Jun 18, 2014 at 19:19
  • Or maybe I'll treat myself to a copy of Illustrator! Thanks for your time
    – Borodin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:34

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