How to Unmerge Layers in Photoshop Featured Image

How to Unmerge Layers in Photoshop 2023?

Combining multiple levels into a single layer is a popular procedure in Photoshop. It is known as merging layers. It is a practical method to manage your work and project. Sometimes, you need to unmerge layers in Photoshop from time to time. For instance, you must unmerge the layers to access the individual layers again if you accidentally combined layers that should have stayed separate or want to modify a particular layer.

Graphic designers, photographers, and anyone who deals with digital photos must learn how to unmerge layers in Photoshop. It might be challenging to change your project once you have combined layers in Photoshop since you can no longer access the separate layers. 

You can restore missing layers and make the required adjustments to your project by unmerging layers. We will go through some easy and practical techniques in this article that you may use to unmerge your layers.

3 Ways to Unmerge Layers in Photoshop


It might be difficult to unmerge layers in Photoshop, especially if you are unfamiliar with the procedure. Thankfully, there are a few techniques to unmerge layers in Photoshop, and with enough experience, you can quickly become an expert at it.

Method 1: Undo Command

The easiest and simplest method of unmerging a layer is simply to undo the previous action by pressing “Ctrl+Z” on your keyboard. Alternatively, click Edit from the menu bar and choose Undo Merged Layers. 

If you make some changes after the merge, you may easily “undo” the combined layers by going back and making a few changes. The simplest way to separate Photoshop layers is with this technique.

Method 2: History Panel

While learning to unmerge layers in Photoshop, another technique is to go through the History panel and retrace your steps. The History panel is an excellent tool for keeping track of all the changes you have made to a design file while using Photoshop. Fifty recent history states are automatically recorded by default and shown in the History panel.

You can track back the “Merge Layers” operation within the 50 states on record if the document has not been closed since the layers were combined. All you have to do is browse the history states until you find the “Merge” modification you want to modify. 

You may access the history panel by selecting the image of three stacked boxes with an arrow pointing upward. If the icon on the right is not there, you may access the panel by going to Window and then clicking History.

You must change this in Photoshop > Preferences > History States to increase the number of “History States.” The number can be increased to allow you to go back more than 50 steps, but remember that the software performance can lag. Also, you can lose a lot of time editing the image after the merging. Most importantly, you can only access session history if you close Photoshop and open a saved project.

Method 3: Separate Elements

What if you have already made too many adjustments? You can separate the elements, but they need time and effort.

To separate the pieces, you must make selections around them and duplicate them onto a new layer. Press Ctrl+C to copy the selected part of the element you want to separate. Then press Ctrl+V to paste the selection where you want. As a result, it will create a new layer. You can do this for each of the elements you want. 

Alternative Methods to Merge Layers

What do you do if you find yourself in a situation where you can not undo a merged layer? With Photoshop, you must understand how to handle layers without combining them. Below are some of the ways you can work on this. 

Method 1: Make a Group Instead of Merge 

Getting into the habit of grouping the layers you wish to combine rather than merging them is a useful alternate technique for merging layers in Photoshop. Groups are significantly simpler to identify while editing and may be changed either as a whole or individually.

Choose the layers you wish to combine and hit Ctrl+G or Command+G. The chosen layers will organize themselves into a folder. The changes you make to the folder will impact all the grouped layers. You may quickly ungroup the merged layer. To further divide them, press Ctrl + Shift + G or Command + Shift + G.

Method 2: Preserve the Original Layer

Learning to keep the original layers intact is another method for separating combined layers in Photoshop. After grouping the layers you wish to combine, use the keyboard shortcut Command+J to duplicate the group layer by selecting it in the Layers panel.

After two similar group layers, you may combine the visible duplicated group and then hide the original group layer by selecting the visibility icon (eyeball icon) in the Layers panel. In this manner, you can have the original layers available and hidden in case to return them.

Method 3: Merge the Layer into a New Layer

Let’s attempt a different approach where we keep the original layers that we want to integrate. Click Command+Option+Shift+E after selecting the layers you want to combine. As a result, all visible layers will be duplicated and merged into a new one. The original files can then have their visibility icon turned off so that you can save them for later use.

Tips for Unmerging Layers in Photoshop

Here are a few tips for unmerging layers in photoshop is given below –

Always Save an Original Copy

Before making any changes to the original file, it is essential to save a duplicate. In this manner, you may constantly return to the original form if necessary. Saving it as a separate document is a good idea to ensure you can always retrieve the original file when necessary. 

Use Shortcuts

Using shortcuts is one of the best ways to unmerge layers in Photoshop. To undo the most recent action, for instance, use “Ctrl + Z.” To undo several actions, press “Ctrl + Alt + Z.”

Be Careful When Merging Layers

Ensure you properly verify each layer before merging them in Photoshop to avoid losing any crucial data. Before merging any layers, it is important to make a copy of your original file so you can always revert to it if necessary.

Use Layer Masks

In Photoshop, layer masks are a great substitute for combining layers. Layer masks let you mix layers while having access to each separately. You may hide or show particular areas of each layer using layer masks without impacting the other levels in your project.


Knowing how to unmerge layers in Photoshop is an essential skill that helps you work faster and more efficiently. Unmerging layers enables you to recover lost layers while merging layers can simplify your productivity.

You may confidently unmerge layers in Photoshop and advance your digital projects using the techniques discussed in this article. Always put your workflow first by practicing and trying out various techniques to discover the one that works best. You will quickly learn the skill of unmerging layers with patience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I hide all layers except one in Photoshop?

Press and hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key. Then click the layer’s eye icon to reveal only one layer while hiding the other. Now you will display just that layer. As a result, all the other layers will be hidden. Click on the Eye icon again to bring them all back.

What is layer visibility in Photoshop?

If you click the Layer Visibility (eyeball) icon, you can temporarily hide or show a layer. People need to know that by holding down the Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) key while clicking the Layer Visibility icon, you may shortly turn off all other layers in the Layers panel except that particular layer.

How do I get my layers back in Photoshop?

Select Windows from the menu bar at the top of the screen to bring up the Layers panel. A list of Photoshop panels will appear. You will find that the visible ones have a checkmark next to them. To make the panel visible, click Layers.

Can you unmerge layers in Photoshop after saving?

You can undo the change when you unmerge layers in photoshop. But, if you merge a layer, you can not go back. Since you are permanently changing your layers, this type of editing is called “destructive picture editing.” Stepping back in your history is the only way to separate layers.

What is layer visibility in Photoshop?

Click the Layer Visibility (eyeball) button to reveal or temporarily hide a layer. Many people need to be made aware of this fact. While clicking the Layer Visibility button, hold down the Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) key. You may find that all other layers in the Layers panel are turned off except that particular layer.