How to Duplicate a Shape in Photoshop

As much as you enjoy using Photoshop, you probably don’t like to spend time looking for tools or clicking multiple times to do an action because it can unnecessarily suck away some precious time of your day if you let it. 

For example, a simple action like duplicate shouldn’t require you to go through different menus and do multiple clicks when you can really just use keyboard shortcuts to make it work.

Hello! I’m Cara, and in my work as a photographer, I’ve spent a lot of hours working with images in Photoshop. It can get tedious at times, thus I love learning new shortcuts and using them regularly. Duplicating is one of the most useful shortcuts that I use daily. 

Today we’ll look at how to copy a shape quickly in Photoshop. 

Kindly note that the screenshots below are based on Photoshop CC for Windows. If you are using the Mac version, they’ll look slightly different.

Step 1: Select the Layer

I’ve got a shape here that I created for the tutorial How to Fill a Shape With an Image in Photoshop. The shape has two layers because I have an image clipped to the shape. 

What if I want to duplicate this? I could create another shape, copy another layer with the sailboat image, and clip the copied image to the second shape. 

But that takes several steps and will burn up in a couple of minutes. Instead, let’s directly copy both the shape and the image clipped to it. 

Select both layers in the Layer panel. Select the first layer then hold Shift while clicking the second layer to select them both at the same time. 

Step 2: Duplicate the Layer

With both layers selected, press Ctrl + J or Command + J on the keyboard to copy the layer. On the document, it will look like nothing happened. In the layers panel, you’ll see copies of the shape and image layer. 

Select the Move tool from the top of the toolbar on the left. Or press V on the keyboard. 

Now, click and drag on the shape to move the duplicated shape. Make sure that both copied layers are selected in the layers panel. 

Alternate Step 2: Duplicate with the Alt/Option Key

The next trick shaves a couple of seconds off the technique. It might not seem like much, but when copying multiple shapes, it can be helpful. 

Select both layers with the Shift key as we discussed. Instead of copying the layers and moving them with the move tool, simply hold down the Alt or Option key. Then click and drag the shape. 

You can also duplicate multiple shapes at the same time to further speed up workflow. Make sure all the relevant layers are selected, then click and drag on one of the shapes while holding the Alt or Option key. 

Boom! Duplicating shapes, and even images attached to them, suddenly got super quick! Have fun creating new designs!

Interested to learn how to fill a shape with color instead of an image? Check out our tutorial here!

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.

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