I'm trying to copy a particular layer out of a Photoshop document into its own new document and export it for use on the web. I'm doing this by right-clicking the layer in the layers palette, choosing 'Select pixels', copying to the clipboard, creating a new document with the default size (based on clipboard contents), and pasting.

This works, but causes the colors in the copied image to change. As an example, a gray divider image goes from #d6d5d5 -> #b0adad (I'm getting the colors in the source and destination image by using the eyedropper tool).

The color modes of the source and destination images are the same (RGB 8-bit), and when creating the new document, I'm accepting the default Color Profile of 'sRGB IEC61966-2.1'. I'm using Photoshop CS5 on a Mac.

Anyone know how I can extract a layer from my image without incurring a color shift?

  • do u get Paste Profile Mismatch warning ??
    – Jack
    Aug 30, 2011 at 4:55
  • Nope, I don't get any warning when pasting.
    – grumbles
    Sep 1, 2011 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


From the description, your source document may be using a non-sRGB color profile. When you force it into an sRGB document the colors are rendered differently. You can verify this in the original by using Edit > Assign Profile and selecting sRGB. If the colors shift, that's the problem.

The solution in this case is Edit > Convert to Profile in the original. Be sure to use "Perceptual" or "Relative Colorimetric" as the method to avoid other undesirable color shifts.

If that is NOT the problem, then you have an adjustment layer or a blend mode (on the layer itself or one above) applied which isn't there when you move that one layer out of the layer stack into a new document. Option-click on the eyeball by that layer to "solo" it, and check your colors. If they've changed, that's the problem. The remedy is to use Copy Merged (Cmd-Shift-C) rather than Copy.

To save a step in copying a layer to a new document, Cmd-click on the layer thumbnail to select the non-transparent pixels on the layer.

  • 2
    Thanks for the detailed info, Alan! It turns out this had nothing to do with color profiles, but your option-click the layer eyeball icon trick made it clear what was going on: the layer in question had an opacity of 50%, which was lost when copy/pasting, and I missed this originally due to my inexperience with PS. Good to know about Copy Merged also. Thanks again!
    – grumbles
    Sep 1, 2011 at 15:18
  • You're welcome! It had to be one or the other (or both!). Sep 1, 2011 at 18:45
  • It might also be the color mode that is set to 8 or 16 bits that causes this problem.
    – Andreas
    Jun 1, 2014 at 20:01

I can't tell you what's going on (my guess is that it's something to do with a color profile), but if you need a workaround, I'm a fan of cheating.

Save a copy of your original document and delete all the layers you don't need. That should leave the layer you want with the color you started with. Resize and export as desired.

  • Cheating would work here if it's a profile issue, but not if the colors depend on a blend mode or an adjustment layer. Photoshop forensics -- gotta love it. :-) Aug 29, 2011 at 20:37
  • yes, you make several good points in your answer. The OP didn't have any info about layers or blending, but you're right, one can't assume. Aug 29, 2011 at 23:51
  • i also like this technique +1
    – Jack
    Aug 30, 2011 at 4:56
  • 1
    Thanks, Lauren - Alan's tip about hiding all layers other than the target one ended up getting me to the root of the problem, but this sounds like a good technique to make note of as well for the future.
    – grumbles
    Sep 1, 2011 at 15:21

I had I think the same problem. I had 2 PSD files open with some work in it, and I dragged some layers from A to B to resize the work, but the colour of the shapes changed to darker and duller.

There were already some shapes in PSD B that had exactly the same colour overlay as the dragged in shapes and the originals in PSD A as I copy pasted the layer style.

I checked almost everything, both documents had the same colour settings, I could not change anything in Edit > Assign Profile, both of them had the working sRGB IEC61966-2.1.

My photoshop used to change from RGB to CMYK by using CTRL+Y on the header tab of the document, but now it changes to RGB/8 to RGB/8/Monitor. I often pressed that as I use hungarian keyboard, but it switches back to english from time to time, and on the "y" is swapped with "z".

I must have changed something to get this, but I don't remember sorry for the lack of information, but this was several weeks of searching and trying.

So I realized this was the difference between the two PSDs. Document A had RGB/8/Monitor but document B had RGB/8 only. I switched the B to monitor too and dragged some shapes again from A, and finally it had the right colour.

I hope this helps some way.

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