How to Open the Layers Panel in Photoshop

It takes approximately 7 seconds after opening Photoshop for the first time to start feeling overwhelmed. There are so many tools and options for doing many different things. In reality, half the challenge of learning Photoshop is just remembering where to find everything!

Hello, I’m Cara! In my work as a professional photographer, I’ve taken quite a few spins around Photoshop by now. But I still remember how overwhelming it felt when I first started trying to figure out how to use it.

Photoshop groups tools into different panels that you can show or hide. This allows you to keep things organized and not have a bunch of stuff in your way that you don’t need. 

The only problem is, sometimes the panel you need might disappear. Maybe you accidentally hit the keyboard shortcut or your cat jumped on the computer and scrambled everything. Regardless, it’s gone and you don’t know how to get it back.

Today, I’m going to show you how to open the Layers panel in Photoshop if it disappears. Check it out!

Where to Find the Layers Panel in Photoshop

Photoshop has various workspace layouts that are set up to facilitate different Photoshop users. For example, photographers will appreciate the Photography workspace whereas graphic designers will like the Graphic and Web layout.

The Essentials workspace is the default setting and the Layers panel appears in the lower right corner of your screen in this layout. In fact, the Layers panel is so important that you’ll find it here in nearly every layout. 

However, it is possible to hide the Layers panel, just as you can hide the other panels in Photoshop. If you right-click on the top of the Layers panel and select Close, you’ll end up with only the Channels and Paths tabs left, which can be confusing. 

If you hit Close Tab Group, all three disappear and the panel is completely gone!

To get the Layers panel back, simply go to Windows in the menu bar at the top of the screen. This will open a list of Photoshop panels. The visible ones will have a checkmark next to them. 

Click on Layers to make the panel visible. Alternatively, you can press F7 on the keyboard if you prefer. 

Voila! The Layers panel appears back where it should be.

Note: any time you are missing a Photoshop panel, look for it here in the Windows menu. You can access any Photoshop panel from here. 

How to View Layers on the Layers Panel

Once you make the Layers panel visible, what can you do with it? Let’s take a look at what the panel looks like with a few active layers.

I made a basic design using the shape tool to place 4 shapes on my project. Notice that there is a background layer and each shape appears on its own layer to total 5 layers?

You can select layers directly in the Layers panel or you can right-click on the corresponding area in the project.

For example, if you right-click on the ostrich shape, all layers that correspond with the area where you clicked will appear. Then you can choose the one you want from the menu and the program will highlight the corresponding layer in the Layers panel.

As you add more layers to the panel, it can get confusing quickly. Thus, Photoshop allows us to group layers and even merge them together. Learn more about grouping layers here.

There is a lot you can do with the layers panel. Now that you know how to find it, check out more of our tutorials. Find out how to crop a layer, copy and paste layers, or resize layers in these great articles. There’s so much you can do, just dive in and explore!

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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