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Uncovering Layers of Differences in Photoshop CS2

Afraid of change? Think the old ways are always best? There have been some significant changes to the way you work with layers in Photoshop CS2, which might take some getting used to. Dave Cross suggests hanging loose and embracing the changes. In many cases, it's easier to work with layers than ever before.
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There have been some big changes in Photoshop CS2—to the way we work with layers and to the Layers palette itself. For those of us who are used to doing things "the old way," my advice is to stick with it and embrace the changes! In many cases, it's easier to work with layers than ever before.

Layers Palette

First, let's talk about what is "missing" in the Layers palette. The following figure shows the Layers palette in Photoshop CS.

Compare that with the "new" CS2 Layers palette, as shown in the following figure.

The most obvious difference is the "missing" links column that has been removed in Photoshop CS2. Although this often causes panic in seasoned Photoshop users, there's a good reason why the links column is gone: It is no longer necessary.

In the past, if you wanted to move several layers at once, you would click in that links column to link several layers together. After the layers were moved, you would unlink them by again clicking in the links column. In Photoshop CS2, it is much easier because you simply have to select in the Layers palette the layers you want to move. To select contiguous layers, click on the first layer, hold down the Shift key, and click on the last layer.

To select noncontiguous layers, hold down Command (PC: Control) and click on the layers you want to select.

After the layers are selected, simply move them with the Move tool or use Free Transform to transform all the selected layers. After you finish, click on a different layer or use Select > Deselect Layers to make sure that no layers are selected.

If you want to link layers, you still can (although it's not as commonly used as in previous versions). After the layers are selected, click on the link button at the bottom of the Layers palette to link the layers—those layers will remain linked until you unlink them.

Once past the change in approach, I think many users will find that they like the two options: selecting layers for a quick way to work with multiple layers or linking the layers for a more "permanent" solution.

It's also possible to select multiple layers directly from the image itself. With the Move tool selected, make sure that Auto Select Layers is checked in the Options Bar. Then use the Move tool to click and drag on the image to "touch" any layer you want to select. The layers will automatically be selected in the Layers palette.

With the changes to the Layers palette, there are a couple of potential "gotchas" that are important to know about. First, to select the contents of a layer you hold down Command (PC: Control) and click on the layer thumbnail. In the past, you could Command/Control-click anywhere on the layer name, but because that now selects the layer, you must Command/Control-click on the thumbnail itself to load the selection.

In previous versions, you always had to have one layer active, but in Photoshop CS2 it is quite possible to have no active layer (for example, using the Deselect Layers command I mentioned previously). Because this is a new option, many users don't realize that they have no layer selected and then wonder why the tool or operation they're trying to use isn't working. So, just remember to take a quick look in the Layers palette to make sure that you do in fact have a layer selected before using a tool, applying a filter, and so on.

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