Photoshop tutorial: How to lock and unlock layers in Photoshop

There may be times when you want to protect the contents of a layer to ensure that it does not get changed accidentally. In order to do this, you can lock layers.

Open Photoshop file

First of all, you'll need to make sure that the file you're working on is open in Photoshop. Here, we're using a model shot, which will be placed in front of a stripy background.

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You can find out how to achieve a cut-out like the model shown above in our 'How to remove a background in Photoshop' tutorial.

We're working on just two layers in this image, but you might be working on lots more layers.


Select the layers you want to lock

Select the layer that you want to protect in the layers panel.

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Lock individual layers or a group of layers

Now, click the Lock button (it looks like a padlock) above the layers to lock that panel and all of its properties.

If you want to lock a group of layers you can select multiple layers and then click the Lock button.

You'll now see a little padlock symbol beside each locked layer.

To unlock a layer, simply select it and click the Lock button again. The padlock symbol should disappear.


Partially lock a layer

If you don't want to lock all of a layer's properties, you can partially lock a layer by following the next few steps.

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Lock transparent pixels

To lock the transparent pixels in a layer, which will only allow you to edit the portions of a layer that are not transparent, click the square Lock Transparent Pixels button.

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Lock image pixels

To lock the image pixels in a layer, which will only allow the modification of the transparent pixels in your image, you can click the Lock Image Pixels icon, which looks like a paintbrush.

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Lock the position of pixels on a layer

If you want to ensure that you don't move the pixels on a layer, you can click the Lock Position button, which looks like four arrows.

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If you have partially locked an image, the padlock symbol shown on that particular layer in the layers panel will not be completely filled in.


Alternatively, you can lock layers by selecting the layer or layer group and going to Layer > Lock Layers and then choosing your preferences from the Lock Layers window

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