Photoshop: Don't allow duplication of locked layers

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  • Updated 4 weeks ago
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The (Mac)keyboard shortcut to make a copy of a selection when not in the move tool is:
command-option-drag selection. That's all good! But this same keyboard shortcut should NOT duplicate fully locked layers. A locked layer should really be locked (like Illustrator) or else there should be a preference to make it so, please. thanks.
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p.guell

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Posted 8 years ago

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Chris Cox

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A locked layer is locked - you cannot make modifications to it.

But copying from or duplicating a locked layer is a perfectly valid operation.
What you're asking for is like saying you can't take pictures of a locked house.
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Fred Phoesh

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No, it is not like that at all. It is like saying if it is locked, you cannot do anything with it... Logical.
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Media Stereotypes

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Same problem with locked layers. Not like the locked house analogy. More like saying if the house is locked then I should not be able to turn the handle and go in. 
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Jose Mayorquin

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My problem's quite simple. I'm in a fast paced work environment designing decor. I often have to duplicate masked branch-like objects and the fastest way to do it is alt dragging the object in the document window. 90% of the time this will grab the locked background layer and duplicate it instead. Sure I could go into the layers panel and do this, but there are sometimes hundreds of layers over there. Can we please have a preference option to turn this mostly useless feature off?
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p.guell

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I do understand your logic, even though one layer of a multi-layered image is not the same as a locked house.
What I really would like is a way to truely lock that layer - because i'm messing around with lots of layers on top of it (I am painting & scratching, etc.). Maybe i have the auto-select box checked and i'm trying to duplicate a different layer, but this layer I want to stay still keeps dupicating instead... argh, it's so frustrating!
A new preference would take care of it.
Or if it was a documented keyboard shortcut, I could change it.
is that possible?

[To use your house analogy, I am painting that house but need to keep one room clean and untouched. The easiest way to keep everybody out is to lock just that room. Not take a picture of it!]
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Evan Dinsmore

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My most common scenario is this:

I'm working in 16-bit mode with a locked dither overlay layer on top of everything to keep subtle gradients when exporting to 8-bit. I have auto-select on, and selecting things below the locked layer is never a problem because, well, the layer is locked. I can't manipulate that locked layer in any way... until I try to option+drag one of the layers below it, forgetting that the dither overlay is there. I didn't have the dither overlay layer selected, nor did I want to interact with it in any way. The only solution is to hide the layer, but then I often forget to make it visible again before exporting, since I think I should be able to lock a layer and forget about it since no changes will be made. It's very, very frustrating.

If I wanted to duplicate, transform, or manipulate a locked layer in any way, I would unlock the layer.

Edit: I would love even a preference buried deep in the menu system. *Something* to resolve this. It's completely counter-intuitive.
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p.guell

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I am so surprised it took eight months for someone else to suffer from this same problem! It is so annoying.

I think it could be solved so easily with a simple preference. Or something in the horizontal options menu, like the "Sample all Layers" check box for the eye dropper or the brushes tool. Not too much to ask?
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Evan Dinsmore

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This has bugged me for a very long time, and all the designers I know and everyone I work with feels the same way. I just didn't know this feedback area existed until ranting on Twitter.
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Yamz K

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Agreed with all of the above!

I specifically lock my layers to keep them visible but prevent myself from accidentally modifying them. Making option+drag work on locked layers disrupts my workflow every time, despite working with Photoshop almost every single day for years.

As Evan said - even a deep buried preference would be absolutely welcome since I would turn it off and never bother with it again since I haven't yet encountered a personal scenario where I would need this to be readily accesible and easily toggle-able.
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Jacob Smith

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What I don't understand is why Photoshop's behaviour is different from both Illustrator and InDesign: in both of these option+drag on a locked layer does nothing.

I have column shapes in my top-most group so that they are always visible. I have them locked so that nothing happens to them. However, when I try to copy (via option+drag) a shape below it, the column shape copies every damn time because it's on top and I use Auto-select: Layer extensively. You can't imagine how frustrating this behaviour is.
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Casey Køerner

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I agree...this duplicating the locked layer function is nonsense.  The only adjustment I can find is to switch off "auto-select layer," but now I have to make an extra step.  Does anyone know a keystroke that can switch "auto-select layer" off and on?
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mohan37

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dang 4 years and this still hasn't been solved?  i'm always having to hide layers I've otherwise locked so I don't alt-copy them.  ridiculous.  Why would you ever WANT to alt-copy something you've explicitly locked?  That's got to be a far rarer need than wanting a locked layer to be totally untouchable.
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Jonas Björnänge

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This is a very annoying problem. I use a Wacom tablet and drag to select with autoselect on. I keep having to hide locked stuff when making a selection, and then turn the hidden layers on again. Most annoying.
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Juraj Fekete

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I've been using Ps for years, always got frustrated with this issue. It happens too often that I have to make last minute changes to final design, because I had to hide locked layers (to actually lock them) and then forgot to un-hide.
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t-mungiguerra

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I can't even accomplish what I am trying to do with a hidden layer. I am using the locked layer as my guide for placing the new copy.
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Augusto Queiroz da Costa

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Hey guys,

I've just became frustrated with the same thing here, and the best solution so far for me would be that of first selecting the one layer I want to copy from w/ move tool, and then hitting command+option (Mac) + drag that layer to duplicate it.

The thing here is that as the top layers are blocked, they will not be selected with move tool, and then when you press command, you sorta enter this mode where you can only edit on that specific layer you've selected. Pressing command+option+drag, then, gives you the ability of duplicating that layer without the interference/inconvenience of eventually copying a top dither layer or such.

(just try it, LOL)
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Brandon Cayaban

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BRO I don't know why more people aren't thanking you about this! This def works!
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Christopher SUNDERLAND

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Totally agree! This is GOLD! Thank you so much for this sanity saving solution!!
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Jessee Fish

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How is this a solution?

Having to click into the layers panel to select your layer defeats the purpose of having a shortcut to Alt-Drag, which is the issue we're discussing. Otherwise, I'd simply click into the layers panel and duplicate the layer I want duplicated. When you have 40+ layers, being able to Auto-Select Layer and then Alt-Drag to duplicate is a gamechanger. 

Regardless, it's still completely ridiculous and counterintuitive that a position-locked layer can be selected and duplicated!! 
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Fred Phoesh

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REALLY annoying. I have a base layer that is locked, and lots of small items over it which I need to Alt-Drag to copy them, but inadvertently KEEP ON copying the damned locked layer instead. SUPER IRRITATING.
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t-mungiguerra

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This is still a problem. Completely defeats the purpose of locking the layer.
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Matt McRae

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It's so annoying - When I am trying to quickly duplicate a layer by pressing alt - it automatically duplicates the adjustment later. Every single time. What is the point in locking the layer if it doesn't work. 
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Jessee Fish

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Just chiming in to say that 7 years later, this is still an infuriating problem with no workaround. Also to say that Chris Cox's analogy up there about it being a locked house is...probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. 

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Christopher SUNDERLAND

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Hello - the workaround is command-option-drag or CTRL-ALT-Drag on a PC (see above)
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Jessee Fish

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no, it's not. that literally just duplicates the layer exactly as alt-drag does. 
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mohan37

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Yup, still hating this glitch on a near daily basis.
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Adil Bachiri

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It's so frustrating , I was shocked to see that the topic is 7 years old. A locked layer should be intouchable even when "alt+dragging" otherwise it's pointless . I really hope they'll do something about it 
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Matt McRae

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I can't believe this is still a problem 7 years on. LOCKED IS LOCKED. Alt + Drag is rendered pointless by this glitch. 
(Edited)
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Jonny Sanders

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Here we are June 2019 and this is still incredibly annoying. When a layer is locked it should be COMPLETELY locked. 
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fifson fif

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Still big problem, can' t use locked top layer for orientation and work beneath because locked layer also duplicates whenever I want to duplicate beneath layer...


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Alexandre Singh

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Select the layer with the move tool. Then hold Command and Option to drag and copy the layer. This will ignore the locked layer.
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Jose Mayorquin

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Thanks, that works