I'm trying to create an action that will move a layer around the canvas. The problem is that my image won't always be the same size and neither will my canvas. If I record a transform and move my image to X:0px by Y:0px, Photoshop will record that the image moved (as an example) -54px to the left and -20px to the top.

This won't work for me because it's recording the steps based on where my image WAS. My image won't always be in the same starting location. So if I were to use this action on a different file where the image is located somewhere else on the canvas, -54px to the left and -20px to top may not bring it's upper left corner to 0px/0px on my canvas.

I hope I've explained this well enough. My main goal is to get an image layer, regardless of it's location on my canvas, moved to the top left 0px/0px of my canvas (also regardless of that canvases size).

Is there a way to accomplish this in Photoshop without resorting to a script?

  • Not to question your motives, but what do you need that for? ..besides the obvious..
    – Joonas
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 15:41
  • It's for an action that will automatically paste an image from my clipboard onto my canvas. The pasted image could be absolutely any size, but I need to consistently size it and position it relative to my canvas and a specific layer. More specifically it's for some weekly email newsletter advertising that I'm trying to streamline the process for.
    – jkupczak
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 14:47
  • Ok. Interesting...
    – Joonas
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, there is no straight-forward way to do this in Photoshop. It's really easy to do in Illustrator, where the position of an object is just one of many parameters that you can edit in the toolbar.

That being said, it is possible in Photoshop, if not straight-forward. You need to use the alignment buttons that go with the Move Tool, and you need a second layer that is already positioned with its corner aligned where you want it.

In your case, since you only want to align your object to the top corner of the image, a background layer would work perfectly. Otherwise, you can create a new layer, fill the whole canvas, and then use this to align your object to.

Step by step:

  1. select the layer you want to align
  2. If you have no Background layer, you need to create a new layer, select the canvas, and fill the layer.
  3. Hold down CMD (Ctrl in Windows) and select the Background layer (or your new full-canvas layer)
  4. Select the Move Tool (V) and use the alignment tools in your toolbar to align the layer Alignment Tools
  5. You're done! Delete your alignment layer if necessary.

I created a quick Photoshop Action to walk you through it: http://cloud.timmackey.ca/2Q010r2S021l1n3F0h2S

EDIT: read through the comments for a simpler method to achieving this, offered by Alan Gilbertson

  • Thanks for the reply. I had been using your method previously. My problem was that if my image to be aligned was above or to the left of my canvas, my aligning layer (the background), would get pulled over with it. Looked at your action and noticed that with the background layer locked it becomes a non-issue. Thanks!
    – jkupczak
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 20:57
  • To clarify, this only works if the background layer is locked by default, or by using Layer > New > Background from Layer. If I lock the background layer using the Lock icon on the Layers Palette, you can't use the align tools.
    – jkupczak
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:04
  • It may still work, even if you don't have a locked background. The Alignment Tool works by aligning your object to whichever object is furthest over, e.g.- if you align two object to the left, it will align them both to the edge of the left-most object. If your layer is off the canvas, and you know it's general position (ie- which corner), you can first align the object to the opposite corner using the method I described, and then align it to the corner you want. This is ridiculously convoluted—I hope that Adobe fixes the alignment tools to get them more in line with the rest of CS.
    – Tim Mackey
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:13
  • 5
    You can simplify this. Ctl/Cmd-A selects the canvas. One click each on the top and left alignment tools. Other layers don't come into the picture. Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 18:50
  • 1
    A corollary to Alan's method is that you can also record an arbitrary selection and align to that! So, you could easily align an object to 100px left and 50px top if you wanted.
    – Tim Mackey
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 10:00

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