Since some of the newer cs versions of PS I got the problem that the Ctrl + left click stopped selecting layers directly when they're grouped in a folder. Instead PS simply selects the folder. If I right click inside the actual working space/viewport/image I get a somehow structured "tree" view with the folder name and the correct layer inside the folder. Is there a shortcut/mouse-keyboard click action that can directly select a layer inside the folder (again)?



The possible "solutions":

  • Ctrl + left click = Select folder/group | Select outside a group
  • Alt + left click = Select layer inside a folder group
  • Mark "Auto select" (toolbar - top) + "Layer" from the drop-down
  • right click then select the layer from the context menu

6 Answers 6


When using most of the tools (except Move tool):


If you can temporarily switch to move tool by pressing cmd, then this will work. For example if you are using the Brush tool this will work, but if you are using the Crop tool, this will not work.

With move tool:

Cmd+Left-click or Alt+Right-click.

Left-click method and the right click method have one pretty interesting difference.

Left-click method does not select locked layers. Right-click method selects locked layers.

Another difference with these two right-click methods, is that you can't move a layer while clicking, where as if you use the Left-click method, that may happen accidentally.

  • +1 - works. And yes, I always name my layers. Sadly PS always appends " - copy" to all layers when you copy a whole folder. A real pain if you are making nav menus for the web where you need multiple states (:hover, :active)...
    – kaiser
    Sep 5, 2011 at 10:39
  • Yea.. If possible I often stick hover and active state in the the same text layer in different menu items with different colors.
    – Joonas
    Sep 5, 2011 at 10:44
  • @Lorello I avoid doing it in the same layer, as this prevents using adjustments layers, fx, etc. So normally everything sits right beneath each other with offset. This way I can easily make sprites (overflow: hidden, etc.). Using only one img is imo better as it removes the need for several requests for only one image -> loads faster.
    – kaiser
    Sep 5, 2011 at 10:47
  • @kaiser Yeah.. I should really start being more organized.
    – Joonas
    Sep 5, 2011 at 11:15
  • Related question / answer: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/18115/…
    – Joonas
    Jun 8, 2013 at 16:26

You can do this with a little work around.

Click your move tool and then in the topbar mark "auto-select" and set it to layer. Now if you click inside the layer it will select it:

enter image description here

Once you have this checked you can also still use this if you have another tool (eg the select tool) active by simply CTRL+click it.

  • Sadly this makes no difference. I still can't select layers inside a group/folder with your suggestion. [Ctrl] + right click is exactly the same.
    – kaiser
    Sep 5, 2011 at 9:00
  • auto select does make sens kaiser, though it select the layer only on which u click. restart your PS and do this again,sure something will happen...
    – Jack
    Sep 5, 2011 at 10:36
  • i can select layers within groups, so it actually should work...
    – Luuk
    Sep 5, 2011 at 10:42

Press "v" to select the "move" tool and be sure to select the option "layer" in the topbar menu.

Now your can cmd + click in some element and this will select its proper layer.

enter image description here


The solution is as follows when you are in auto select and you have chosen Group in the Auto-select option drop down area.

Alt + right-click on the object that you want to select on your canvas (the layer inside the group will be selected and not the entire group). Release Alt. While holding down the Ctrl key, left-click and drag the mouse.

You will notice the selected layer inside the group move and not the entire group itself.


I don't see this behavior. Try resetting preferences (hold down Cmd/Ctl, Opt/Alt and Shift while the program is launching) and see if that doesn't remedy the problem.

  • It's only about layers inside a folder (grouped layers). You can't directly select them (at least not in cs4 on win) with Ctrl+click
    – kaiser
    Sep 5, 2011 at 12:12
  • Perhaps there's something I'm not getting. I fired up CS4 specifically to check this. If I Ctl-click on an item that's inside a layer group, the group folder opens with that layer selected in the Layers panel. I don't have CS2 or CS3 installed right now, so I can't check that, but CS4, CS5 and CS5.1 all work exactly the same way. Sep 5, 2011 at 19:25
  • Strange. Doesn't work for me (CS4). See update/edit i/t Q.
    – kaiser
    Sep 5, 2011 at 21:38

Check the Channels tab. There might be a hidden mask there created by accident. This is what happened to me, I couldn't CTRL+CLICK anywhere.

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