Photoshop – Which layer?

Layers are one of the most useful features in Photoshop. But knowing what is on each layer and selecting the correct layer can become challenging, when there are lots of layers.

Naming your layers can definitely help you identify what is on each layer, but sometimes you simply forget, or perhaps you didn’t initially create the file so the names doesn’t make sense to you. Or even worse, the layers haven’t be named at all!


Lets take a look at the layer structure for the below document:

Okay, not the most complicated document with just a few layers. The layer thumbnail images would perhaps be sufficient to workout what is on each layer. But lets just stick with this document and look at another method for working out what is on each layer.

Select and show

To work out which layer items are on, we need to choose the Move Tool (highlighted in red), at the top of the tool bar.

Next, place the mouse cursor over part of an image, in this case the student and right-click.

A drop down menu will appear as shown above. The top layer/item in the list will be the layer the student is on, and it will also list layers underneath the student too depending upon the position of the mouse cursor.

Selecting the top layer/item in the list will automatically highlight the layer the student is on – handy hey.

Now would be a good time to rename the layer by double-clicking on its name, and typing in a new name.


If you turn on Auto-Select in the Options bar then click on parts of an image it will automatically highlight the layer the image is on too.

So choose which method you prefer to quickly select the correct layer.