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How can I duplicate a layer which is located in a group (folder) and easily move it into other specific group so I can have it nicely organized?

Currently I tried duplicating with right click and drag dropping into desired group, but that takes sooo much time, especially if I have many groups which I need to scroll by and I want to duplicate something from the top group and move it into the group which is all the way down. Scrolling while dragging a layer is so painful in Photoshop.

Let's say I have nested layer groups like this:

Header
- Topbar
  -- (here is the icon inside Topbar group I want to duplicate)
- Logo
- Nav
Page
- Title
- Breadcrumb
- Content
Slider
Related
Footer
- Newsletter
- Links
  -- (I want to duplicate the icon and place it in this Links layer group)
- Copyright
- Cookie notice
2

There’s no way to copy and paste layers, unfortunately. There are some shortcuts that might help though.

  • ⌘J = Duplicate the currently selected layers or groups.
  • ⇧⌘] = Bring the currently to the front (top of the layer stack).
  • ⇧⌘[ = Send the currently to the back (bottom of the layer stack).

Collapse All Groups in the layers panel menu can also be handy. You can set a keyboard shortcut for it under EditKeyboard Shortcuts. I’ve set mine to ⌃⌘\.

Keyboard shortcuts

This means you can use these steps to quickly duplicate something and move it to the top of the layer stack, then collapse all groups.

  1. ⌘J to duplicate.
  2. ⇧⌘] to move the duplicated layer(s) to the top.
  3. ⌃⌘\ to collapse all groups.

You can now drag the freshly duplicated layer(s) to their new home a bit easier. These steps could all be combined into a single action, which can then be triggered from a shortcut.

I’ve just made that action, so I can try it out myself, and see if it makes things quicker. It’s just the three steps mentioned above.

Duplicate and move Photoshop action

If you’d like the action, but don’t know how to make it yourself, I can provide the file for you.

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If I understand your question then I think you can achieve what you are looking for by using copy and paste:

  • For simple layer contents, you can Select All (command-a) and Copy (command-c) the layer that you want to duplicate from, then create a new layer in the group that you want to move the content to and Paste in Place (command-shift-v). This will place the layer content in the same place as it was on the source layer.
  • If the layer is more complex (i.e. if it's got layer styles applied to it) then you can first use the 'Convert to Smart Object' option from the Layers palette to combine the layer into a smart object and then proceed as above.

Pretty quick and easy, especially once your fingers learn the shortcuts. Hope that helps.

If you're on Windows rather than Mac, just replace command with control in each instance.

  • 1
    Copy and paste will only work with bitmap contents, right? And, it’ll also crop to the selection (the bitmap layer might extend beyond the canvas edge). – Marc Edwards Mar 22 '17 at 10:00
  • Good point. Copy and pasting is a pretty limited method. The only way to keep every feature of the source layer (as far as I'm aware) is the method that the OP is already using. – Westside Mar 22 '17 at 10:08
  • I really wish we could copy and paste layers in the same way you can for bitmap layers. Would be great. – Marc Edwards Mar 22 '17 at 10:26

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