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By default in Photoshop, a layer and its layer mask are linked together and what that means is if I move the layer, so I have the layer selected here and I get my Move tool, press V for Move, and if I move the image around inside my document, its layer mask moves with it and nine out of ten times that's actually what you want. If you Shift-click here on the layer mask you can see that this flower has been clipped out of its background and the layer mask is what's doing that clipping. If you unclick the Link icon between the layer and its layer mask, you can now move each one individually or independently. So now this gets little weird because you are offsetting the mask from the image, and so you end up with kind of weird result.
But you can do that. Let's give you a more real world example. Let's say that I want to use this mask over the flower shape to clip the actual background layer here. So to do that, let's convert this background layer. We'll Option+Double-click or Alt+Double- click on it to convert it to a layer that supports transparency. I am going to turn off this top layer just by clicking on its eye and then I'm going to Option+Drag or Alt+Drag the flower mask down to this bottom layer and that will duplicate it and apply that mask to this bottom layer. Now you see these are not linked. I can link them together and just like you saw with the flower, and you just click in between them to link and unlink.
When they are linked, they move together. When you unlink them, the image can be moved around inside the mask. So in this case, I may want to reposition which portion of the image is visible within that flower silhouette or I may want to reposition the mask relative to the image, so I can just drag the mask around independently. When I want them to move together again, just click between the two of them and now you can move the mask and the image by itself together.
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