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As you get more comfortable with working with lots of layers inside Photoshop, especially if you are a designer and you are ending up with very complex documents, you are going to want to learn how to organize your Layers panel a little bit more and make it more compact. If you take a look over here in the Layers panel I have now, you'll see I've got these four thumbnail layers all named with the name of the flowers they are. And there's this layer here called Logo. That turns out that's a group layer. If I turned down the disclosure triangle, the geeky term, you'll see that there's two layers in that Logo group. You can just collapse and expand that to see the layers inside any given group.
So, how do you create a group in the first place? There's kind of two different ways to do it. I am actually going to show you the textbook method and then show you the way that I prefer because it's just easier. I am going to go ahead and Shift+ Click the layers that I want to group. Now if you go down to the Layers panel, at the bottom of it there is a little Group button, and the problem with this if you click this it doesn't put your selected layers inside the group that it created for you. It just puts the group at the top and then deselected the layers that you had selected. So, that in my mind is kind of silly so I am going to undo that. And I have got my layers selected again. Photoshop wants you to drag a range of selected layers to that group icon and so if I drag the selected layers all the way down to the bottom of the Layers panel and look for the cursor to change as I mouse over that button, now when I let go all four of those layers were moved into this new group called Group 1.
I am going to undo that. Nothing wrong with that. If you like dragging and dropping, that's fine. That's just fine, especially if you have a really tall monitor and a really large Layers panel. I don't really want to have to drag and drop there if I don't need to. So, I am going to use the standard keyboard shortcut that works in just about every Adobe application to group something, and that would be Command+G or Ctrl+G on Windows. And that just skips the step of having to drag. It puts your selected layers inside that group and calls it Group 1. If you want to name the group - let's go ahead and double-click on its name - I'll just call it Thumbnails. Press Enter or Return to lock that in. And if I want to see what's inside a group I can just turn down its triangle there.
And I can see all four layers are still there. The stacking order is still maintained of what they were before I put them in the group, and then I can just collapse that to not see the thumbnails if I don't want to take up that much vertical screen real estate. So, grouping and ungrouping, pretty similar. If I want to get rid of the thumbnails group, the opposite keyboard shortcut is Command+Shift+G or Ctrl+Shift+G. It's also under the Layer menu, and I can choose the Ungroup Layers command. So, for those of you who like menu commands, there is a command called Group Layers under the Layer menu to get in the group in the first place, and then there's also the corresponding Ungroup Layers command.
And the keyboard shortcut is Command+ Shift+G or Ctrl+Shift+G. So, you can go in and out of a group at any point. It's really just an organizational technique. Well, it turns out there is some other benefits of grouping. You can actually mask an entire group by throwing a layer mask at the group level instead of the individual layer, which is kind of exciting. It gives you an extra layer masking, but it's a little bit off-topic here. Again, to get this back to be in a group, I've got my selected layers here. Command or Ctrl+G is the easiest way to do it. Let's go ahead and double-click on the name called Thumbnails. Hit Return or Enter to lock that group name in.
And now I have got a much more organized Layers panel.
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