How to Copy a Mask in Photoshop

Ever noticed how work can get tedious in Photoshop? Tasks like making selections and masking off certain areas can be time-consuming. Thus, any way to speed up your workflow is very welcome. 

Hi there! I’m Cara and I love to play with editing and image manipulation in Photoshop. What I don’t love is doing the same tedious task over and over again. That’s when learning to copy a mask in Photoshop to use the same mask on a different layer is quite handy. 

It’s super easy, let me show you how!

Note: the screenshots below are taken from the Windows version of Adobe Photoshop, if you’re using the Mac version, the navigations may look slightly different.

Step 1: Create a Mask

Let’s say I wanted to brighten up only the bunny in this picture. (That’s my daughter’s pet bunny, Oreo, isn’t she adorable?)

As you can see, I’ve applied a brightness/contrast adjustment layer and made a mask so that the changes only apply to the bunny and not the rest of the image. 

Step 2: Create a New Layer

Now I want to add some more adjustments to the bunny. For this example, I’m going to add a curves layer.

Notice the empty mask? 

Step 3: Drag and Drop

Now, here’s the easy way to copy the mask. If you single-click on the mask, you can drag and drop it on a different layer. But this just moves a single mask around.

To copy it, single-click, then drag and drop while holding the Alt or Option key. 

Boom! Instead of having to painstakingly create a second mask, you can copy and use the same one. 

You can also use this technique to make changes to everything but the mask. With the copied mask selected, hit Control + I or Command + I to invert the mask. Now the changes will be made to everything but the bunny. 

Can You Copy a Layer Mask to Multiple Layers?

You can copy a layer mask to as many individual layers as you like. Unfortunately, you can’t copy to multiple layers at once. However, just dragging and dropping is pretty quick work. 

If it’s that big of a deal, you can group the layers together you want to copy the mask to. Then, copy the mask to the group and it will apply to all the layers. 

Copy Away!

That’s it! Isn’t it nice to learn something simple in Photoshop for once? Especially a tip like this that can be a big time saver. Check out more of our simple tips like how to rotate a selection today!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *