Adjustment layers can have their mask linked to the adjustment, and two or more adjustment layers can be linked to each other.

Two different things here and I can't conceptually understand what either does, nor have had any luck searching for an answer.

Linking adjustment layers does not sync transforms to their masks - that was about the only thing I could thing of that made sense.

2 Answers 2


Linking layers, via the 'chain link' icon at the bottom of the layers palette, means that when you move or transform one layer the other layer will also move or transform with it.

With layer masks (including adjustment layers) by default they are linked, meaning the same - moving or transforming is applied to both the layer and the layer mask.

Once you unclick the 'chain link' icon between the layer icon and the mask thumbnail, you are able to click and hightlight one or the other. Then when you move whatever is in the layer you'll see the mask doesn't move, and vice versa.

This can be useful, for example, if you have a circular mask with a photo inside, and you'd like to tweak the position of the photo. You can unlink the mask, select the layer icon, and move the photo around while the circle stays where it is.

Fill layers and adjustment layers are given a bitmap mask by default. The mask is all white, meaning it currently isn't masking anything and effectively isn't doing anything. This means linking or unlinking the mask doesn't have any noticeable affect. With the mask unlinked and highlighted, try drawing a rectangle with the select tool, choosing black, then using the paint bucket tool to fill the rectangle black (the mask thumbnail should now have a black rectange in it).

Now try moving it around, and linking and unlinking the mask. Now you should be able to clearly understand how masks and linking work on adjustment layers, or any kind of layer.



Yes with adjustment layers the two features only work when used together.

Here it is: turn on ALL the links and you'll be transforming linked masks.

So think of a mask as a child of its layer. The only way for two masks to transform together is if they are both linked to their parents, and then the parents are linked together.

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