How to Duplicate a Layer in Photoshop

Duplicating layers or images is an action that you’ll be repeating quite often when you work in Adobe Photoshop. It’s a simple step that assists you during your design process. 

When I was a graphic design student 10 years ago, one of the most useful tips I learned was to save a copy of my work, especially when I work on complex projects like drawing in Photoshop. I ALWAYS duplicate the layers, hide them and lock them just in case I delete them by accident. 

Duplicating layer allows you to make edits to your artwork instead of creating a new one and comparing which one works better. 

Besides saving time and trouble, the famous Photoshop is known for making cool image effects for posters, and many of these cool effects are made by duplicating images. See this poster here, you’ll need to do a couple of shortcuts (Command + J for macOS or Control + J for Windows) to duplicate to get there. 

Pretty cool, huh? You can make it too! One of the first steps is: to duplicate a layer.

In this article, you’ll learn six quick and easy ways to do this step and you’ll be on your way to making a cool poster like this. 

Can’t wait to show you! 

6 Ways to Duplicate a Layer in Photoshop

Note: Screenshots are taken from Adobe Photoshop 2021 Mac version. Windows or other versions might look slightly different. 

As always there are several different methods of duplicating a layer in Photoshop. You can use the same methods to duplicate images. You will normally have a preferred way of working in photoshop, so choose whichever way fits in with your current processes the best.

There is no right and wrong way, there are in fact 6 ways!

All the methods involve having the layer that you want to duplicate selected in the layers panel as the first step. 

Please note: All the methods described below involve having the layer that you want to duplicate selected in the layers palette as an initial step.

Method 1: From the top menu

Go to the top menu Layer > Duplicate Layer

Method 2:  Layers panel

Step 1: Right-click on the layer you want to duplicate on the Layers panel. 

Step 2: Click Duplicate Layer.  

Method 3:  Layer options

Step 1: Click on the small hidden menu on the top right corner of the Layers panel. 

Step 2: Select Duplicate Layer.

Method 4: Drag to Layer icon

Click and drag the layer you want o duplicate to the Create a new layer icon (the little plus sign at the bottom of the Layers panel). 

Method 5:  Marquee, Lasso & Object Selection Tool

Step 1: If you happen to be using the Marquee, Lasso, or the Object Selection Tool, right-click on the layer in the document. 

Step 2: Select Duplicate Layer.

Method 6: Keyboard shortcut 

Hit Command (Ctrl for Windows) + J to duplicate a layer. This is my favorite method to duplicate an image because I can quickly duplicate an image multiple times using the keyboard shortcut.

That’s it. You can duplicate a layer in Photoshop in two to three quick steps. 


You might also be interested to know the answers to the following questions related to duplicating layers in Photoshop. 

Why do you duplicate a layer in Photoshop? 

It’s always a good idea to save a copy of your work in case you change your mind. Duplicating a layer allows you to compare your design before and after. You can also make some cool effects with duplicated layers by adjusting the transparency. 

Can I copy a layer from one PSD file to another?

Yes, you can copy a layer from one design to another, just select the layer, hit Command + C (or Control + C if you’re on Windows) to copy, go to the new PSD file, and paste it by pressing Command + V (or Control + C if you’re on Windows). Or you can select the layer and drag it into the new PSD document.

How to make multiple copies of a layer in Photoshop?

Hold down the Option + Command key (or Alt + Control if you’re a Windows user), and hit any arrow keys to make multiple copies of a layer. Each time you press the arrow, you create a new copy of the layer. 


Remember to select the layer before you duplicate, then you can use any of the six methods above to quickly duplicate a layer. You can make cool image effects and easily edit existing artwork to make a comparison with your new layer. 

About June
June is an experienced graphic designer specializing in brand design. Photoshop is the essential tool that she uses every day along with other Adobe programs for her creative work.

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  • marilia

    Thank you very much, exactly what I was looking, the last topic! Thanks.

  • mira

    Thank you, it’s very handy 🙂

  • sjna

    7. ctrl+alt and drag the layer

  • Chris

    Thanks a lot for the advice, really helpful!!

  • MrJanus

    To duplicate a layer on the PC, I use Alt + Cursor key on the selected layer, then nudge it back using the opposite cursor key. So if I use Alt + Cursor up, then I hit cursor down to put it back in the right place. It probably sounds long-winded but it’s now part of my natural workflow, so it seems a really quick way to do it. Just thought I would add it because it isn’t mentioned here.

    • June

      That’s great, thanks for adding your method. I wasn’t aware of that one.

  • Sophia Antipas

    Thanks June!

    One question, can I duplicate a layer so it duplicates UNDER the selected layer? When clipping layers and I duplicate the underlying layer it breaks the clipped link. I”d like to be able to clip the underlying layer and have it appear underneath the clipped group. Thanks again, Sophia

    • June

      Hi Sophia, you can move the layer above the selected layer first and duplicate it.

      Does this answer your question?