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How to Lock Layers in Photoshop

Published: 14/06/2021

In Photoshop, you usually have a multi-layered project where each layer contains important objects. That’s why you want your layers to be well-protected against accidental changes. Photoshop offers a useful feature of locking layers to help you keep your images safe. Let's look at the options we have on how to lock layers in Photoshop.

How to Lock Layers in Photoshop

When working with a single or a couple of layers in Photoshop, it is quite easy to manage and handle layers. However, when working on a large, multi-layered project, it could be pretty challenging. You may end up making unwanted changes to certain layers or move unnecessary objects.

That is the reason why locking layers is especially useful when you are working with more layers. It provides you with more control over the changes you make to your layers. Moreover,  the chances of making mistakes are reduced significantly, helping you have a better Photoshop workflow.

Locking Layers in Photoshop

You can apply different layer locking techniques in Photoshop, depending upon your needs. Whether you want to lock a layer completely, want to lock only certain layer attributes, or want to lock a group of layers, Photoshop offers great tools that are not only effective but also really easy to use

Here, we will be explaining all the methods and their steps so that you can easily lock layers in Photoshop whenever you want to.

Locking Layers Partially in Photoshop

If you want some aspects of your layer to be locked while others remain editable, then partial layer locking is the way to go for you. By using this method, you can lock only selected parameters of a particular layer. There are different types of partial layer locking available in Photoshop. 

Locking Transparent Pixels on a Selected Layer

You may encounter scenarios where you only want to edit the pixels on a layer, while keeping the rest of it intact. Photoshop allows you to do that by allowing you to lock the transparent pixels on any layer. To do that:

  1. Hover your cursor to the Layers Panel, which is usually present on the bottom right corner of your Photoshop interface. In case you are unable to see your layers panel on your Photoshop workspace, the chances are that it is disabled, and you have to enable it. To do that, go to the menu bar present at the top of your screen and navigate to Window > Layers. You should be able to see your layers panel now.
  2. Once the layers panel is visible to you, you will be able to see all your layers stacked together. You will also see the layers panel menu right on the top of your layer stack.
  3. In this menu, you will see a row for ‘Lock.’ This menu has various icons, where each one displays a different type of lock that you can apply to your layer.
  4. Select the layer you want to lock. Once selected, the layers should have gray highlighted backgrounds for that particular layer.
  5. At this point, click on the first icon of the menu. This icon is to lock transparent pixels, and it looks like a checkerboard.
Locking transparent pixels on a selected layer in Photoshop

Locking Image Pixels on a Particular Layer

This is another way of partially locking your layers in Photoshop, where you only lock the image pixels. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the layers panel that is usually present on the bottom right corner of your Photoshop screen. In case it is not visible to you, then navigate to Window > Layers.
  2. Once you see your Layers panel, select the layer whose image pixels you want to lock. 
  3. Go to the layers panel menu that is present at the top of your layers stack. Here, you will find the lock menu with various types of icons. Press the second icon from the left, which looks like a paintbrush. This will lock the image pixels, particularly on the layer you previously selected.
Locking image pixels on a particular layer in Photoshop

Locking the Position

When you work with a large number of layers in Photoshop, you may accidentally move any of those layers. This may cause chaos in your Photoshop project and workflow. That’s where this feature comes in really handy.

The ability to lock the position in Photoshop allows you to keep your layer where it is. It keeps you from unknowingly moving your layer and causing any mishap. In order to lock the position of your image pixel layer in Photoshop, do the following procedure:

  1. Go to the layers panel present at the bottom right corner of your Photoshop workspace. If you cannot see your layers panel, the chances are that it is disabled from viewing. To enable it, navigate to Window > Layers.
  2. As you see your layers panel appear on your screen, you will see that it has all your layers over there. First, select the layers whose position you want to lock. 
  3. Once you have selected the layer, then hover your mouse over to the Layers panel menu present on the top of your layers stack. Here, you will see the ‘Lock’ menu.
  4. From this menu, click on the third icon, which looks like a crossed arrow. This will lock the position of your selected layer so that you are unable to move it unless you unlock it.
Locking the position in Photoshop

Locking Artboards

There is a new partial locking feature in the latest versions of Photoshop. This feature allows you to lock your artboard content. In order to do that, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the layers panel usually present on the bottom right side of your Photoshop interface. In case your layers panel is not visible, then go to Window > Layer.
  2. Now, make sure that you select the layer that you want to work on. Once the layer is selected, hover your mouse to the lock layers panel menu present at the top of your layers stack.
  3. In this menu, the fourth icon represents the feature of locking artboards in Photoshop. As you click on this icon, the artboards of your layer will be locked immediately.

Locking Layers Completely

In this method, all the attributes of layers are completely locked, making it impossible to make any sort of changes to the particular layer. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the layers panel located on the bottom right corner of your screen. In case your layers panel is not visible, then go to Window > Layers.
  2. Select the layer you want to lock completely.
  3. Now, go to the Layers panel menu at the top of your layer stack.
  4. From here, choose the last option, which looks like a complete padlock icon. When you click on this icon, your selected layer will be locked completely.
Locking layers in Photoshop completely

Locking Group of Layers

Apart from selecting one or multiple layers and then locking them, you can also lock groups of layers in Photoshop. To do that, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Layer > New > Group. 
Locking group of layers in Photoshop
  1. Now drag and drop the required layers into this group on the layers panel.
  2. Go to the lock layers panel menu and click on the locking option you want to apply. However, when locking groups, you can only use two options: lock all or lock artboards.

At this point, I would like to give you a tip. In all the methods above, you can also go to Layer > Lock Layers, and select the type of lock you want to apply.

Selecting the type of lock you want to apply

Conclusion

In Photoshop, either you want to lock a layer completely or just want to lock certain attributes, you can just follow a few simple steps and make that happen. Learning the correct usage of the locking layers feature in Photoshop allows you to have a more comfortable and focused working experience.

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