As far as I'm concerned, there are a few different ways to control which layers are affected by an adjustment layer, for example:

  • move the adjustment layer down so that only the layers below it are affected
  • alt-click on the line between the adjustment layer and the layer below it to create a clipping mask
  • create a group and clip the adjustment layer to the group, again using alt-click

However, using these methods there is no way to have an adjustment layer affect multiple layers that aren't next to each other in the layer order.

So let's say I have a Photoshop document with 10 layers and I want one adjustment layer to affect only the 3rd, the 7th and the 9th layer without rearranging the layers, is there a way to do this?

  • You could put the stack of layers at the bottom and then merge them with the adjustment layer, but then you'll lose the adjustment capability. -_-
    – bwoogie
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:26
  • Which would be completely destructive, so I don't want that, obviously ;)
    – MoritzLost
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:35
  • Yup, but what you can do is group your original layers and hide them so if you need to make changes you'll have a backup. It's not ideal, but its an option.
    – bwoogie
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:36
  • Layer mask or Clipping mask with multiple layers + the adjustment lauers or Clipping mask where Smart object holds the elements you want to mask out + the adjustment layers.
    – Joonas
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:45
  • 1
    If you want separate layers with individual adjustments, you can use layer styles for some things. but you would have to select all the layers to change to a new saved layer style to make revisions. - not ideal
    – Rsiel
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


If you use Photoshop CC, just click on the clip button at the bottom of the adjustment popup. This will clip the adjustment layer to the layer below it, which means your adjustment will only affect that layer. You can have your adjustment affect more than one layer by grouping the layers, then clip the adjustment layer to the group. Likewise, the adjustment layer should be above the group to which you clip it to.!

The keyboard shortcut is OptCmdG (or AltCtrlG on Windows).

The button in Properties for clipping an adjustment layer

  • Hi silkscrim, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 8:11
  • 2
    This doesn’t actually answer the question. The question is specifically whether you can apply an adjustment to any layers of your choosing that are not adjacent and without grouping them. Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 22:44

Bit late but I'm not sure why simple Layer Masks can't do this for you.

Let's say you have a picture with foreground a person, middle ground a mountain, middle ground a waterfall, background the sky. You want to push the blues in the Sky and Person so you make a Curves Adjustment and mask out the Mountain and Waterfall. Then you want to adjust the brightness of the Person and Mountain. Okay another Curves Adjustment but mask out the Sky and Waterfall.

It's irrelevant that the Mountain Layer is not next to the Sky for example. If it were to make a difference than you wouldn't be able to see the Sky since the Mountain would be blocking it. So both objects must be visible at least partially thus Layer Mask on your Adjustment Layer can block out specific parts.

To formally answer your question though - no there's no way to have an Adjustment Layer set to affect a few specific ungrouped layers. But as I said above, I'm not sure why you'd really need to.

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