How to unlock a layer in Photoshop?

The answer to this question will depend, in fact, on the type of blocking of the corresponding graphic component of the program. These can be conditionally classified into 2 categories:

  • "automatic" blocking provided by software algorithms of Photoshop;
  • manual locking of layers using certain tools of the graphical editor.

Let's explore how to make the layers active in each case. Let's use Photoshop in version CS6 with an English interface.

How do I make an automatically locked layer active?

In general, automatic layer locking is performed by Photoshop when opening a new graphic file. This scenario assumes that the corresponding element will be the background - Background.

So, if you select the File menu item, then Open and load a picture into the program, then its layer in the Photoshop workspace will immediately be marked as locked.

It will, firstly, be called Background, and secondly, it will be marked with an icon that looks like a door lock. There are several ways to unlock a layer.

Probably the simplest option is to double-click on the layer name and then click OK.

As a result, the Background label will be changed to Layer. Thus, the layer will cease to be in the background, it will be unlocked, and it will be possible to work with it.

Make sure that the corresponding graphic element is active, allows the Move Tool. Having selected it, you can try by holding down the left mouse button and moving the unlocked layer across the canvas.

Another option for changing the status of the element in question is to drag the “door lock” icon with the mouse (again, with the left button held down) to the “trash bin”, which is located in the layer management interface.

The effect will be the same as in the previous case.

The third way to unlock a layer is to go to the main menu of Photoshop. You need to select the item Layer, then - New, after - Layer from Background, and then click OK.

The layer is unlocked.

The fourth way to make a layer active is to right-click on its image or name, then select the Layer from Background item and click OK.

In order to return the original layer to the status of the locked background, select the Layer menu item, then - New, after - Background from Layers. The corresponding graphic item is renamed to Background.

The Photoshop program also includes other layer locking mechanisms. The reverse action will be predetermined by the specifics of the respective instruments.

How to make a manually locked layer active?

Blocking a layer manually in Photoshop can be done:

  • by using various tools that are located in the layers control panel;
  • using the option to change the picture editing mode, which is located in the main menu of Photoshop.
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Let us study these methods of layer blocking and the unblocking tools correlated with them in more detail.

How to unlock a layer depending on the type of lock?

There are 4 lock options in Photoshop, which are located in the layers control panel.


  • Lock Transparent Pixels, or the button to lock the areas of the picture, consisting of transparent pixels;
  • Lock Image Pixels, or an option that activates the prohibition of changing any part of the image;
  • Lock Position, or the button to fix the picture on the screen in a certain position;
  • Lock All, or the option to completely lock the pattern.

The activation of each of the marked tools is easily detected - as the corresponding icons change appearance.

For example, with the Lock Transparent Pixels option enabled, they will look like this:

The same picture appears next to the layer name in the form of a small lock.

Multiple image lock options can be enabled at the same time.

Accordingly, in order to unlock the required graphic item, you need to click on the icon that looks different from the others. As soon as the picture in the form of a lock disappears from the screen, the layer becomes active and you can work with it.

How to unlock the layer in the image when the editing mode is changed?

Photoshop allows you to use one notable option - the image indexing mode. The fact is that with the help of it the picture editing mode can be changed.

If the indexing mode is active, the layer parameters in the corresponding control panel will be displayed as follows:

That is, the layer name will change to Index. In addition, a familiar picture in the form of a lock will be displayed to the right of it, indicating that the corresponding graphic element is locked.

The peculiarity of the image indexing mode is that when it is activated, it will be impossible to unlock the layer by the methods we have considered. Double clicking on the name of the layer and other manipulations with the options on the corresponding panel will not work. How to unlock a layer in Photoshop in this case?

This is not difficult. The point is that it is very easy to turn off indexing mode. You need to select the menu item Image, then - Mode. There is a check mark in the Indexed Color option area.

It is necessary to click on the RGB Color item - the checkmark will move there, and instead of the indexing mode, the normal one will turn on, in which you can fully edit the pictures.